Now - December 2013
Then - December 1988
Twenty-five years married? It is hard to imagine that Pat and I have been married that long, never mind the additional years we dated leading up to our nuptials. When I consider how it is that we managed to navigate the ebbs and flows of holy matrimony, I would have to say that in terms of our morals and core values we are one in the same. Like minded in such a way that though there are two of us we are like one. On an advice board displayed at our wedding, Pat’s mom’s message to us on that 3rd day of December 1988 was to "walk like two candles, but burn a single flame." Those wise words have surfaced often through the years and have served us well. True to her message’s meaning, with all the our other life stuff, we are as different as oil and water, thus giving our day to day the spice required to sustain one’s interest. We are individuals that appreciate and celebrate each others differences.
That powerful message has been instrumental not only in our marriage but also in how we are raising our children. We are trying to empower each girl with a positive self esteem in such a way that they, in turn, can appreciate the differences in each person who enters their lives while still staying true to their own self. This begins right at home by sharing with others our own blended family and the unique way we were formed. It seems that with this in mind, the perfect hostesses for our 25th wedding anniversary party, though they are still quite young, were our own two girls, Devi and Treya.
We rented a room in The Mansion to accommodate our 60 something guests and it was a tight squeeze, a true testament of the kind of never ending support we’ve had our whole married life. The foyer was decorated with a Christmas tree covered in clear glass ornaments (favors that were given to the guests) that the girls filled with sand and shells collected during our Thanksgiving Puerto Vallarta trip. Around the top of each was a ribbon inscribed with the words “Together by the sea is our favorite place to be” on them, a nice representation of our love of Mexican and Caribbean travel. On the opposing side of the entry was a manikin displaying my princess wedding gown with the glittery beaded train draping the floor in front. The girls, who are still very much immersed in their make believe land of fairies and princesses most of the time, felt this detail was a must. Treya's help with the floral arrangements keep me on track, ensuring each vase contained the exact same amount of red roses and various other foliage. In the background one could hear the lyrical sounds of a talented quartet I commissioned from the Tacoma Youth Symphony, who occasionally threw in a Christmas carol making the evening that much more festive.
To unite our guests from various time frames in our lives, Treya and Devi passed out questionnaires about little known facts of our married life and urged people to search among themselves for the answers. Questions varied from “Who introduced Pat and Julie?” to “Which guests share the same birthday as Pat?” to “During a romantic evening, why did Pat dunk Julie’s head under water in the jacuzzi tub?” (The answer a true act of heroism.) It was a great ice breaker and was fun to watch the girls help some of the guests cheat by sharing their answers.
The girls had chosen a pasta buffet with a choice of lasagna or Penne and Chicken Alfredo with bread and salads, reasoning that the choice of the turkey dinner buffet would have been too much turkey right after Thanksgiving. It appeared they made a good choice as everyone seemed to enjoy the menu, though I was so busy greeting people, many that I had not seen for a long time, that I somehow managed to miss my meal.
We followed dinner with a short program. I greeted everyone and thanked them for coming, acknowledging the 11 wedding party members present. I also thanked everyone for their continued support, a promise that many of them made publicly during our ceremony when Pastor Shoop married us, as well as those who helped later, miraculously assisting us through the sane navigation of two international adoptions, a feat not possible without many many sets of strong shoulders. The evening would not have been complete without drawing attention to the role models who have helped us reach this point - our parents. I had everyone stand, eliminating people by the number of years they had been married. Over 30 years included my sister and brother and their spouses, but left standing beyond 45 years of marriage, was my dad and Pat’s mother. Both, no doubt, would have continued to stand if circumstances were different, but who sadly fell victim to the reality of their vow “til death us do part."
My sister Joan and SIL Obie,
both part of the over 30 years married group
To further emphasize our gratitude of our faithful group, the lights were dimmed and a short video I compiled began. Included in the video were photos of nearly every person in the room sharing memorable moments with us over the course of 25 years. Vacations spent together, holiday celebrations, silly Kodak moments all formed a stepping stone type of timeline, including the joyous moments when each daughter joined our family. Wow, have we all changed with the passing of time! My favorite portions of the movie were the short video out takes of my interviews with Devi and Treya. When asked, “Who are you going to marry someday?” Treya’s impromptu response was, “Devi...because she is my best friend!” I followed up with, “How about marrying someone like daddy?” She nodded yes and I questioned, “Why?” and she blurted, “Because I love him!” It was so completely tender and heartfelt leaving many, including me, with tear filled eyes.
Devi brought the house down her opinion of, “What do you think about 25 years of marriage?” “It is kinda cool...and kind of creepy.” was her response. When I pondered, “Why is it kinda cool and kind of creepy?” Thoughtfully she paused and then finally retorted, “It’s cool because 25 years is a really really really long time, but creepy because you guys are so....OLD!” Ah, magic moments caught on video can be so incredibly raw, innocent and priceless!
As the final snapshot faded and the applause that followed finally died down, we were surprised when a friend approached us to present his anniversary gift. Out of his pocket came a stack of crinkled edged papers - a written service. He is an officiant, and performed a vow renewal right then and there, witnessed by 60 of our dearest and closest family and friends! It was beautiful, the details of his message to us were spot on - just right. At one point, he invited our girls to join us in a family hug, saying a prayer of thanks that God chose each girls for us, joining our family of four forever. We will be forever thankful to Shawn Schuler for this incredibly cool gift that was not even the least bit creepy!
Cutting the cake then - 1988
Cutting the cake now - 2013 with our parents and children
The true icing on the cake was a gift from my dad. Years ago he had composed poems for my siblings when they reached their 25th year of marriage, so I was hoping he would remember and put pen to paper for us as well, though I would have never asked. Raising to his feet while tapping a glass to get everyone's attention he surprised us with this.
To weld is to join two pieces into one,
A perfect union that will never come undone.
Our honored couple were welded in nineteen eighty eight.
December 3rd was the welding date.
Paster Shoop was the welder, a good one we all feel.
He struck an arc between them and it was hard as steel.
Twenty five years have come and gone since that welding date,
When Patrick announced he wanted Julie, to be his life long mate.
It was after a family dinner and it was getting late,
All the guests were gone when Pat revealed his fate,
Out came a jewelry box and in it was a ring,
I was honored to be asked and Mom's heart began to sing.
PAT WENT TO JULIE'S ROOM AND YELLED "WE'RE ENGAGED".
Wedding plans were quickly made 'cuz time was getting short you see,
As their new life together was to start in a place called Washington D.C.
The adventurers traveled to a place unknown, not even a place to live,
Really all they had were hopes and untold love to give.
After a year of living and working there they found,
Their hearts belonged back near the great Puget Sound.
A home was envisioned and built by the pair,
And they started planing their family there.
Now in all the years there were good times and bad,
For all in our family if was heartbreaking and sad.
When we looked forward with anticipation to see,
The new little one that was not to be.
In time their life changed to a different plan,
And they were blessed with children from a far off land.
Way around the world and far across the sea,
Came our little Treya and her big sister Devi.
In the couple's demeanor, adoration is what I see,
In any solid welding that's the way it should be.
This welding so lovingly struck way, way back,
Has stood the time against any rust attack.
CONGRATULATIONS LOVE, DAD 2013
It was so hard to bring the evening to a close. The room was just full. Full of happiness, full of love, full of laughter and full of family and friends. I was so proud of the girls. They were so well behaved, polite and were the best little hostesses we could have ever asked for. On the drive home in the darkness, Devi sat in her car seat, silent in her hunter green velvety dress, her thumb having found her mouth and her eyelids struggling under the weight of eminent sleep. Out of that darkness came her small voice, “That was the best party ever!” Yep, it sure was. Thank you so much my dear children!
* I know this is an incredibly long blog post, but I couldn't manage to edit a single word :)