Parents' anniversary proves marriage hits highs, lows

Community Life Editor Kellie Houx’s parents have traveled all over the country during retirement.

As my parents marked their 55th wedding anniversary, I did research about marriage in general. The 55th wedding anniversary is called the emerald anniversary because emeralds are a rarer gemstone, and I guess a marriage that lasts 55 years is an extremely rare find.

Perhaps that’s a bit corny, but then I was read some more, I found a study about 55 couples in marriages with an average length of 55.5 years said their lasted so long because of mutual devotion and special regard for each other. Another study attributed long marriages to faith in each other, love, ability to make concessions, admiration for each other, reliance on each other, children and strong communication.

That is my parents to the letter. My parents are like any other parents who have weathered the storms of life. There have been great joys in raising children, including taking vacations across the country in a Volare station wagon.

My mom went back to school when my brother and I were in elementary school. She ended up getting her teaching degree when I was in middle school. I thought that was one of the coolest things ever — to do homework literally with your mom.

My dad has been that steadfast force, working as a computer systems analyst until his eyesight started failing him. While he had to take early retirement, my dad didn’t slow down. He volunteered at my old elementary school for more than a decade. We all joke that my dad got to be a fourth-grader for years.

There have been some health scares along the way — mostly with my dad, but again the storm blew by and left sunnier days. They have traveled all over the world and enjoyed their lives together, even taking the family to Hawaii for their 50th wedding anniversary. We went to a luau to mark that day.

Right now, my parents are weathering the latest storm. At the end of April, my mother had a stroke. She spent three weeks in the hospital and now she is in her third week at rehab. It’s hard to watch as my mother regains so much of what the stroke took from her.

However, the sweetest display of love has been during these weeks. My dad has seen my mother almost daily. I believe there’s only been two days where he hasn’t. I have stepped in to fill those. It’s clearly not the same, but my daughter and I played some rousing games of cards with her to pass the time. Of course, I am his driver most evenings as well as on the weekends, after we spend time with my mom.

We had a small anniversary celebration for them at rehab. There were some cards and smiles.It wasn’t the 55th celebration I wanted to give them, but we made the most of it.

My mother’s parents knew each other for more than 58 years and if my grandmother would have lived a few more months, it would have been 57 years together. My dad’s parents hit 60 years before my grandfather passed. My in-laws almost made it to 44 years before my mother-in-law passed from ALS.

In some regards, my husband Aaron and I hitting 24 years at the end of May seems almost paltry. I wear the ring my grandfather put on my grandmother’s hand when they renewed their vows at 50 years and I am also blessed to wear the anniversary band of my mother-in-law.

Then there’s my small wedding band. I wear 123 years of marriage on one hand. It’s a good reminder that marriage is for the long haul, truly for better or worse.

I have two great examples in my parents every day. Happy anniversary, Mom and Dad.

Southeast Editor Kellie Houx can be reached at kellie.houx@mycouriertribune.com or 389-6630.

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