Through Thick & Thin
Celebrating 50 years of marriage
by Amy Kenneley
It was 1957. It was raining that morning. My wedding dress will be ruined, I thought. The rain stopped long enough for the ceremony, though.
He was so nervous his Adam's apple kept bobbing above his tuxedo tie. We said words, and we meant them, but we hadn't a clue as to what would be asked of us. What it boiled down to was we were pledging ourselves to one another through thick and thin.
The honeymoon was barely over when we had our first argument. What was it about? Neither of us can remember, only that we both discovered we had tempers, stubborn streaks, and nasty tongues. We held grudges. We gave cold shoulders. There were silent meals.
Lack of money was another thin. We thought we could live on love, but landlords and electric companies and grocery stores needed something more than that. We had no money sense, no budget, and no hope for a fairy godmother to rescue us. We were babes in the woods.
Losing loved ones is another thin. Tragic accidents, slow, lingering illnesses-they drained our emotions and tested our abilities to cope. Even while missing the loved one, the grief, anger or guilt we experienced put strains on our own married lives.
We never thought we would get sick, either, but we did. Looking at one another through the lens of mortality is a sobering view.
But there was lots of Thick!
We both gave one another room to grow. We tried things and did things. We allowed one another to learn and to make mistakes. Not everything we tried worked, but we thought, "Let's go for it!" We wouldn't have been half as successful alone as we were as a team of two.
Surely the greatest thick has been our children. They are our jewels. They are independent, kind, loving, giving, involved. Through all their bumpy years of growing up, they managed to survive our sometimes bumpy parenting. They made us proud. They have such diverse lives and yet each one is fulfilling a personal dream. Perhaps the wisest thing we did for them was to let them go to find it.
Where would we be without friends? They love us in spite of ourselves. Our secrets, our frustrations, our disappointments are part of theirs, woven into that shared fabric of people who care for one another.
The biggest thick would be laughter. Life can be funny. If it isn't, you had better find it. Humor can defuse some uncomfortable moments. We laugh at the same things, too, and we have our private little jokes and teases. Life is serious, but we try not to take ourselves seriously.
There are always surprises. Even though we have shared so much there are still un-named and un-mined places in our souls we have yet to discover. We never get tired of finding new reasons to love one another.
We still walk hand in hand. We know the lines and curves of one another, the feel of each other's face. We finish one another's thoughts. We are half a person without the other to complete us. We care about the other's happiness. We remember well the youths that we were, but we embrace the bodies and minds we have grown into.
Someone once said that to have a successful marriage the couple should forget two words: always and never. Through the years we have tried to banish them.
We still argue, but now they are about little things, easily forgiven and quickly mended. Oh, we still can irritate one another -we know how to push one another's buttons quite well! But we have also learned that the "mute" button is the wiser choice.
We have learned to forgive one another. We were never, nor will ever be perfect persons, but together maybe we can become one better person.
We are comfortable but not rich. We try to be generous. It is people, not things, that count, we remind ourselves. We try to recognize the difference between want and need.
We take better care of our health now, knowing that health is an iffy thing. We are grateful for a faith that promises an eternal family reunion.
Amy and Michael Kenneley at the 2007 Mayo Ball
Of course we had to have a party to celebrate this journey we had taken together. Our scrapbooks lined the party room-from wedding day to the present-big, thick albums of our lives, our children, our friends and family.
There were the rabbit ears-behind-siblings-photos, the Dad-working-on-something-photos, the Mom-trying-to-make-Thanksgiving-dinner photos. There were Christmas trees morphing from tacky to over-laden through the years, and kids with puffed cheeks blowing candles out, aging with each album.
We had photos of pets and their antics, and faces of people we loved, now gone. With each photo, a memory was sparked by the person turning pages. "Oh, I remember that" someone would say. Or, "You have the wrong date-don't you remember it was--"
Through Thick and Thin
We knew there would be corrections, but that was okay. Documenting fifty years strains the memory. Sometimes behind a thick page of photos was a sad memory-- a faint shadow of the thin. Sometimes only we could see it, and it brought a little sigh as we remembered.
"Time for a family photo!" someone announced. Yes, we needed to get this shot before everyone scattered to their own lives. We needed this one, brief moment of physical togetherness to add to our memory books.
We stood, moved around, tall to the back, short to the front. "Can everyone see the camera? Turn your head this way. Put down those fingers! Here, stand in front of Grandma, and you move in more. All ready? Okay, everyone smile...say cheese!"
Done. We drift away, giving hugs and thanks. This was truly the thick.
We were so blessed to have this moment, this day, and these years to share with one another. Through thick and thin.
ClevelandSeniors.Com would like to congratulate Amy and Mike Kennely on their 50th wedding anniversary. You can tell from Amy's writings that their lives are never dull, and from the picture of the two of them that their eyes are filled with love. Here's to another 50 years - and lots more writing. Slainte!
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