A MARRIAGE WORTH 50 YEARS
June 21, 1958 to 2008 by Don Kleczynski
The year is 2008, the year of Joan and my 50th Wedding Anniversary. People quiz us about what it takes, how it happens that we stayed married for 50 years. How does one answer that? We never figured this to be a big deal. Years go by and suddenly we are there!
Simple as that.
But is life really that simple? Certainly it was easier in our day for people to remain committed to a life time marriage, than it is in this present era. Times have changed, the culture of the American people and of the world has changed, a revolution in technology has come about during these 50 years, during these 70 some years!
Yes, life was simpler in the 1940’s and 50’s, especially in Oregon, and especially in the Gervais / St. Louis area where small farms yet the norm, and families pulled together for survival. We never heard of drugs, rape, thievery, shootings, murders. Guess we must have been pretty isolated. Love songs were that, and they were so beautiful that they are still worth listening to. Every movie was fit for all age groups. TV’s owned by few. The time yet of innocence, loyalty, dedication, responsibility. Commitment!
Being born into a culture such as this, we were still of the generation of morality. Blessed are those parents that instill goodness and honesty in their children!!
How wonderful that Joan and I were of the generation of commitment, without the faintest thought of any alternative. Like probably all marriages, we have had our rough times and wondered how we got into such a situation. Those thoughts quickly passed as we were so busy surviving day to day with my career job that the tomorrow sure to be better. Looking back, I think we actually did go through hell in my job but we surfaced together in retirement, into a gracious, wonderful world of togetherness in retirement.
Our “Hobby” jobs / work have been the crowning glory of our lives in retirement. Hobbies that are enjoyable, worthy, and a financial help! We had no conception that our marriage would, or could fail. We accepted each challenge together, difficult or not. Joan was my goalpost on which to lean. She and our kids were my strength, the reason to persevere, to work against all odds, to accept the hardships of the job and of life. She basically reared our children and molded their character … held our world together. She did an amazing job.
So I think this celebration event isn’t for the two of us, but for Joan. She is the crowning glory of this marriage. She has been the light for me and the light for our family through this generation and for ages to come, just as my Mom was in her time and continues to be yet. Through Joan’s character, and friendship to all, she has become a beacon of hope in this world to everyone she meets!! Several of her sewing customers seem to buy things that need altering, just so their day can be uplifted by Joan’s inspiring nature!!
How did I become so fortunate to have such a wife??? I have no idea. Her folks brought her all the way from lower California when they moved to Oregon, and subtly arranged our meeting without realizing it!!! Looking back over these 50 years there has been a lot of coincidental, wonderful happenings for us.
Back in those days we had no idea of vacations or where to go for a honeymoon. I had heard about motels but had never been in one. No plans were made. We just retrieved our hidden car from a good friend’s at 4:30 pm. after the wedding ceremony at 9:30 in the morning, and the traditional wedding celebration with relatives and friends of the surrounding area, and started driving without any destination in mind. Luck would have us heading towards Mt. Hood and locating a cabin-type motel in Brightwood, Oregon on Highway 26.
We stopped there because we noticed a small, log, Catholic Church along the Hwy so we could go to Mass there as husband and wife for the first time the following day. How wonderful and fitting!! The priest was Father Fritz, our parish priest at St. Louis during the early 1950‘s and this before Joan and her folk‘s moved to Oregon. I recognized him, he recognized me. He was a terrific person, a terrific priest. He Blessed us and our marriage before he had to hurry back for his next Mass of the day in Sandy, Oregon. A marriage Blessed in two succeeding days has got to be a survivor!!
Another wondrous happening was last June 21, 2007 when we had only time for a day trip to the Coast to celebrate our 49th Anniversary. We found our beach at Lincoln City and walked and walked south from near Shiloh Inn until time to return and get back on the road home. A group of elderly ladies ahead. One came forward as we approached and asked if I would take their group picture. This was their annual reunion of their high school class of 1961. Sure.
Brief visit and Joan mentions today is our 49th Anniversary. This group of about 20 ladies sang us Happy Anniversary to the Happy Birthday song right there on the beach. How wonderful and thrilling for us, and I’m sure, a memory for each of them still!!!
This is the background of our lives without attempting an answer to …. How did you do it?? The answer could be simply stated ….”We were fortunate”!!! Fortunate to have great parents trained in the basic goodness of life that instilled ethics, honesty, and mortality, and the Love and Trust of our God in our lives. We were fortunate to have been born into a time and place of innocence, trust, and a high regard of character. We were fortunate that each of our childhoods were of a similar nature of dependency on each other for the family to survive and prosper. Our kids and grandkids have inherited these qualities into their lives also, of which makes for really proud parents/grandparents. A complete fulfillment in life!
Our Love hasn’t dwindled in these fifty years but has grown stronger as we begin to fully appreciate, in these latter years, what our partner has given of themselves in this union of Holy Matrimony! It’s been more so for Joan since she was cast into the role of “Mother” for this family. A Mother in every and all senses of the Word!!! What a great job she has done!
How Blessed I have been! How Blessed we have been!!!