Today was my parents' fiftieth wedding anniversary. Amazing? Yes. Heroic? Maybe. They have been through good times and the worst times and have driven my sister and me crazy for a big part of that fifty years. Some people might think to celebrate a "50 Year Survival Competition" is nuts; but then, insanity really does run in our family so celebrate it, we did.
Originally, Mandy and I had planned a big shindig to honor our mom and dad, but sadly, they (meaning my mom) nixed that idea. Of course, it all began with Mom fervently stating that she wanted, not just a party, but a renewal of their vows complete with her wearing a wedding gown which she was denied in 1961 when the two of them eloped on a hot and steamy night to Dallas, GA. (I told her I didn't want to hear the details of that fateful evening, but she loves making me uncomfortable. However, I won't repeat it here... thank me later.) We were happy to plan a wedding ceremony and were halfway into it when she called saying, "I have changed my mind. If you girls do anything, I will never forgive you!" She then goes into detail what exactly she will do to us and herself. Needless to say, we stopped all wedding plans.
Weeks go by and it is now June and we KNOW we must make plans for a party at the least. To do nothing would mean a fate worst than death. Mother's erratic behavior, fueled by knee pain and the subsequent pain killers, culminated this summer with her leaving a funeral to bring the mourners ice cream sundaes. She was literally about to bring them into the church when I narrowly stopped her. My sister and I suggested they would be more enjoyable out on the front porch and luckily, she agreed. While rocking in a chair and eating a strawberry sundae, my aunt languidly asked, "What are you going to do about your mother?" I just smiled and continued eating my sundae. (It was a hot day and the sundae was pretty darn good!) Driving home, Mandy and I decided a small family get-together would probably be best.
Cut to the week of the anniversary and we still have no plans. Mother and Dad refused to discuss their anniversary because Mom "may need heart surgery." All week, they were on pins and needles lamenting that her death was imminent. (The doctor had scheduled knee replacement surgery, but she needed to have her heart checked before the big day. One test came back irregular and she knew she was dying.) Five days and two heart tests later, thankfully, all was well. Her heart was great so on with the show! When hearing this good news, I said, as calmly and lovingly as possible, "Mom, please tell us what you want to do for your anniversary. I will make reservations for all of us, if you want; or I will be your chauffeur for the night and take just the two of you wherever you like. Or we can have a big cook out at mine or Mandy's house. Whatever you want...Just tell us." She replied, "Can I think about it and call you tomorrow?"
Tomorrow! Tomorrow was their anniversary! Sure! What the hay! We can pull anything together in a few hours time!
So she called the next morning and said she wanted a small family affair at their home, around the pool. She wanted it catered by their favorite restaurant, Nicola's (Lebanese) Restaurant, near Emory University. Fine. So be it.
We ran around for the rest of the day (Thank you, Red Bull!) Mandy finding golden plates, napkins, wedding cake, a "50" cake topper, balloons, etc. I got roses, wine and ordered the food. Hannah and Spencer went to their grandparents' home (the anniversary couple) and worked a miracle around the pool. (Did I mention my mom is a hoarder? No? Well...) By four-thirty, we, two daughters, were on our way to Atlanta to pick up the food. [By the way, Nicola greeted us himself as cheerful as always and even sent a special gift box of Mediterranean desserts for the special couple. I really love Nicola's!]
When we arrived at our parents home, all was ready for the big event. Mom and Dad had both prepared for the party with an extra glass of wine. Thanks! We served the appetizers at 6:30, the main course at 7, took pictures of the bride and groom cutting their wedding cake at 7:30 and by 8:30, all was cleaned up and we were on our way home. Does it sound like we may have rushed the entire affair? You don't know our parents! Mother almost fell into the pool twice in the first half hour (remember she has bad knees) and Dad tripped over a chair while heading back to his television at 7:15 (No bad knees, he's just naturally clumsy.) We made them stay long enough to capture the happy event on film so we could prove we had indeed thrown them a party. (We definitely do not want to do this again!)
Craziness and all, I love my parents. Believe it or not, they are happy and look forward to the next 50 years together. If Mark Twain was correct when he said, "Sanity and happiness are an impossible combination," then maybe their craziness has brought them a happiness few people know. Insanity may be the secret to a long and happy marriage. Lucky for Greg and me, insanity runs in the family.