Friday, December 06, 2013

Can You Say Fifty 50 Ways?

It was a weekend to remember. Not only for us, but for everyone who came to help us celebrate our 50th Wedding Anniversary. November 30, 2013. Our Golden Wedding Anniversary.

It actually started on a cool November 15 just 50 years ago in Columbus GA. Then three perfect kids arrived, Michael, Marcie and Amy. (A lot of thought went into their names and we believe they are perfectly named.)

After that, there were 50 different addresses. We moved a lot. We both had a restless spirit, I guess. It’s okay. Our kids were flexible enough to sit in the back seat for miles at a time and still thrive wherever we landed. The kids soon left home, settled down and refused to move unless it just had to be. At least we knew where to find them. All three are leaders in their communities now. Now they have 10 smart kids plunked down in the back of minivans. A few of those kids drive now. Where did the time go?

But, the Lord is faithfuler than we think. Far more than 50 friends have connected with us in ways only jobs can connect you. We have friends in just about every state in the country. We have Iranian friends, Chinese friends, Mexican friends, Muslim friends, Anglo friends—the list goes on. I know that we can pound on their doors for a meal or a comfortable bed. Unfortunately, a few of our special friends have passed away. Worse, we’ve lost track of a couple of couples that were pretty dear to us long ago.

[ I want to go on record and say that some of our friends are children and infants. We have teenaged friends, too. We have friends who have lived with life-long handicaps. Whenever I need my spirit boosted, I go find one of them. ]

During our marriage and right up till today there were at least 50 jobs—and I’m still looking. Restless spirits, indeed. If it had to do with writing, that was my favorite job. If it had to do with selling, that was Gloria’s favorite job. As a technical writer, which I is, I wrote 50 books. That’s right, 50. At home, I wrote at least 50 short stories and have given serious thought to compiling them all into one book and letting each of our 50 friends buy one. One story I’m really excited about is titled, Why Procrastinate When You Can Wait?

Funny, I think we must have been members of 50 different churches, too. Baptist, Methodist, Wesleyan, Pentecostal, No-Name Independents, Evangelical Free. My favorite denomination, The Four Square Church, was founded by Aimee Semple McPherson, a controversial evangelist, back during the Depression. What does it mean? Four Square? The church preaches/teaches that Jesus is our Savior, our Healer, our Baptizer with the Holy Spirit and our Soon-Coming King. 

Finally, it was Wednesday night. Everything started then. My brother’s bride fixed up a really good enchilada casserole dinner. With my sister there, too, we made funny things happen during the evening. At one point, my sides ached. Oh, who can forget Thanksgiving Day…er, night? Gloria’s two sisters and their husbands and one of her brothers came with his bride, too. It was our Thanksgiving dinner together. Can you guess what we had? We had tacos—40 of them! Gloria made them with turkey meat. We had Mexican beer while we were at it. For dessert we had pumpkin pie with whipped cream slathered all over it. Strong coffee followed. It’s just what B-I-L ordered. Turkey and pumpkin pie, or he wasn’t coming. Friday was work-eat-work-eat-work-run around in KCMO and stay out late. Fun. 

Wait! Did I say 40? Must be a typo.

And then the big party. Listen, we had the most perfect weather possible for this part of the country at this Thanksgiving time of the year. Incredible blue skies in all four directions. Wonderful warmth, daytime and night time. All those who traveled here commented, “Hey, thanks for the nice weather. I thought it would be snowing or something.”

Our church let us use the coffee-fellowship room, and one of Gloria’s best friends decorated it to no end! Beautiful. She used 50 shades of blue. And some gold, of course. Friends and relatives, in-laws and outlaws came from far and near. Some did not come at all (to keep us humble, I’m sure).

I wrote a prayer a night or two before and then read it to begin the affair. I read it because I figured I’d have a hard time to keep from crying a little. I was right. I have Catholic friends who think reading a prayer is perfectly fine.

Then everybody lined up to ransack that food table. Somehow or another, we had so much food left over that we gave away about 50 containers of something or another. Wow! You shoulda been there. Our caterer outdid herself! The food was deliciouser than just about any party I’ve ever attended.

Our son Mike N. was Master of Ceremonies. And a great one he was, too. Music rocked the party. My niece started it all with a short, pleasant repertoire. Then Zoe, our great-niece sang a Beatles song, Do You Want to Know a Secret, A Capella. A Capella! She marched right up to that microphone and started singing! Right on pitch, note after note. She’s awesome—and only 12 years old! Everybody should have a great-niece like Zoe! 

A little later, we watched Mike L., our oldest grandson hit the lowest note on the keyboard. He has an outta-this-world bass voice. Again, right on pitch! I’m telling you, that kid can sing. We all sang along to a few tunes. We enjoyed songs from the hymnbook and songs from Gloria’s youngest brother, who is a semi-professional singer. He entertained us with Neil Diamond, Billy Joel, Ray Charles and some others.

In addition to all the music, there were plenty of jokes (to honor our sense of humor, I’m sure). Gloria’s second brother stood up and roasted us, just like they used to do on TV. That skit included 50 wise cracks. All in fun, I think. He let my own brother join in the fray. Our Master of Ceremonies even threw in a buncha jokes—about his own parents! Whoever heard of such a thing?

Amy, our Texas daughter, showed a DVD with 50 years of family photos she’d dug up. Her background music included Anne Murray’s Could I Have This Dance?, so I got up and asked Gloria could I have that dance. She said, “Yes” again. So we danced. In church. Suddenly, 50 people jumped up and cameras flashed! It was a real honest-to-goodness “flash mob.”

“Cake! Cake! We want cake!” That was all the grandkids getting restless and rude. Well, they were pretty much right. It was time to call one of my best friends to the podium and… “Cut the cake! Cut the cake.” Densel and I don’t see each other all that often, but when we do, we do. Know what I mean? He’s a preacher with one of the beautifulest families you ever can know.

He sang “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” We thanked everyone for coming. He offered a benediction and the kids yelled, “All right! Let’s go get some cake!”

We got hugged a lot that afternoon.

What about our future? “The future is as bright as the promises of God.”
(That’s a quote to honor a friend we’ve known almost 50 years. Bob Hilderman, who watched our celebration from heaven.)


kenju said...

Congratulations, again, on attaining what few of us do these days. We are right behind you - come July 2nd, 2014. I have told our kids not to have a party and spend a bunch of money, but to gather the family only. I like that best. It sounds as if you have a great one!!

cozyrn said...

We thought about you all day. We just couldn't make the trip because of work obligations but we were there in spirit. Best wishes for the next 50!

Monique said...

Congratulations on 50 years! What a memorable day for you. I am so glad you got to celebrate in style!