As I recall, they had wanted to have a celebration of some kind on our 25th, but the MOTH had been forced to wear a tux a couple of times in the recent past, and he just refused to spruce up again so soon. So he confidently promised to allow a party for our 50th, thinking surely we would not still be around … and together.
Any discomfort at the 50th was greatly overshadowed by seeing friends and relatives and showing off his children and grandchildren. So here we go again, for number 60, and this time there are great-grandchildren.
There’s been quite a bit of whispering going on behind my back. I realized when I saw the homemade invitation I should never have answered when I was asked where we went on our first date. And I really should have interfered when I overheard a couple of planned activities. (I don’t hear well, you know, so perhaps I misunderstood.)
Our kids asked to borrow some old photos. We’ll see what they’re doing with those. In looking through some ancient albums, I ran across the photo of my own grandparents at their 50th anniversary event in 1953. They renewed their vows, had a little ceremony with their pastor officiating.
Grandma’s nephew, John Ross Frisbee, (yes, named for the Indian chief) was Papa’s best man. Their daughter-in-law, Rachel ,was Grandma’s matron of honor. A granddaughter sang “Always,” accompanied by another granddaughter.
The couple looked their age. Papa was 26 when they married; his bride was 16. They married in 1903 and, as with many couples at the time, life was not easy. But Papa always had a job, and Grandma was the hardest-working woman I have ever met.
I didn’t really realize at the time she was different from other women in that she did all the work at home. Papa’s white-collar job was his contribution to their home life. Grandma tended to the cow, doing all the work connected with the daily supply of milk. She planted, fertilized, hoed and harvested a huge garden, then canned and pickled and stored it for the winter. She was a cook extraordinaire.
She always had some kind of needlework project going. She was the ultimate homemaker, actually making a home. The couple’s personalities were so different. Papa pushed a pencil, Grandma pushed a plow. He made a living, she made a life. Papa loved, Grandma labored.
I doubt seriously that either of them ever had even a fleeting thought of another way of life. I think I can safely say that neither of them ever heard of Kahlil Gibran, but years later when I read some of his wise sayings, I thought of my grandparents. Gibran had one bit of advice that they surely followed: “Let there be spaces in your togetherness.” It worked for them.
When it came my turn to marry, Grandma loved my “chosen” one. He took her fishing. (Papa did that, too, but he never fished himself. He took her to fishing holes all over North Georgia, and waited patiently as she baited hooks, bringing in the big ones, stringing them up to take home to fry and serve with the greasiest hushpuppies ever.)
But my feller fished right alongside her, and no doubt he learned some tricks from her. And we all learned early on that the two of them were formidable partners when the Canasta cards were on the table. There is one photo that tells yet another story. The MOTH is bent over Grandma’s feet, hard at work on her aging toenails. No wonder she loved him. I haven’t worked up the nerve to suggest that any of our grandchildren — or their spouses — might want to volunteer for such a chore.
Papa humored Grandma in a hundred ways. He found it hard to deny her anything she asked, even when it was unreasonable. They were married for 55 years.
We also honor them today. They set an example that’s hard to match in today’s marital climate. They did it without marriage counselors, inherited fortunes or modern technology. They did it despite the Great Depression, the loss of two babies, the loss of their youngest son at age 22, and another son in active duty with the Merchant Marines. Made in Heaven, their marriage survived.
Please come to our party. It’s on Sunday, May 4, 2 to 4 p.m. at Latimer Hall in Woodstock.
Juanita Hughes is retired head of the Woodstock Library.