In the very near future my parents will celebrate a milestone reserved for very few - their 74th wedding anniversary.
We plan a small reception for them; the real celebration is being reserved for next year and their 75th anniversary. No gifts are appropriate for their 74th anniversary, but I note that gold and diamonds are traditional gifts for the 75th. Maybe you don't want an invitation to next year's shindig as gifts may be appropriate.
Folks normally give me way too much credit for caring for my parents in my home. (Truth be told my wife deserves much more credit than me.) Normally people say I am a great son and a great caregiver. The truth is my parents are still taking care of me after all these years. Dad (at 98 years of age) keeps the pantry organized, loads and unloads the dishwasher, cares for the dog, goes for the mail, keeps the birdfeeders full, and a myriad of other tasks. Mom still creates some tasty dinners and remains legendary for her pies, cakes and other desserts.
We are blessed to have them here with us, and they are blessed with good health, mental acuity and blessed with each other. Last year, Mom took a few days to fly back East leaving Dad alone for maybe the first time since the 1940s and World War II. To say they are inseparable would be an understatement. My Dad is a quiet man. Mom is outgoing and has been referred to as his "mouthpiece." When out for a bit of shopping, Mom makes friends in the check-out line, Dad is just along for the walk.
Mom still has her own teeth, close to 20-20 vision and a great sense of humor; she just recently discovered the iPad and Facebook. Dad has a healthy and enviable head of hair, an innate ability to play chess, and reads vociferously. Mom has embroidery projects scheduled for several years out. As she spends her time working diligently on a blanket, pillowcase or table cloth for a grandchild, friend or great-grandchild, Dad sits close by reading the latest National Geographic, Smithsonian or the Bible. The little Chihuahua "Loki" is normally at his side or in his lap. Do not dare to approach too closely, Loki is very protective of his old man and is likely to bare his tiny teeth and do his best to intimidate you. He wants you to keep your distance.
Dad has a signed picture of Charles Schulz of "Peanuts" fame with whom he served in the Army. Why Schulz signed that photo we shall never know. Dad doesn't have many war stories to share; he was normally a few days behind the fighting. There are pictures of collapsed buildings, destroyed towns, there are German Mark notes of incredibly high denomination, and there are a few other minor mementos of that time in Europe.
Upon entering the military Dad went to El Paso, Palo Alto and Colorado Springs. Mom was able to follow. Then the time for shipment to Germany came. While Dad was overseas, Mom did her part for the war effort on this side of the ocean. She was no "Rosie the Riveter," she was more like "Mae the TNT Gal." She worked at a TNT plant in the aptly named town of Nitro.
Oh, I have failed to mention the day on which they were married. Being one who has a terrible time remembering names, birthdays and such, I always appreciated the fact that my parents wed on April Fool's Day. That was at least a day easily remembered and through the years there was precious few times they were not greeted and greeted promptly on this day. That anniversary is now shared by my sister and my eldest daughter.
They have no profound insights into longevity. Maybe the secret is just to be an April Fool's Bride and Groom.
Jim Hoffman is a local Realtor and investor who, when not working, loves skiing, camping and fishing (in season). He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.