"Endurance is Everything"
65 Years of Marriage
Contemplative nuns and monks, indeed all those in vowed religious life, often speak of and pray for the gift of perseverance. The Redemptorist priests and brothers add a fourth vow to the usual poverty, chastity and obedience - a vow to persevere in the Congregation. These days another type of perseverance in vows has been the subject of my prayer and meditation. Today a group of family and friends came together to celebrate the 65th wedding anniversary of my parents. My father's motto is, "Endurance is everything." Surely they are a model of endurance.
Mom and Dad married on August 3, 1943 in the middle of World War II, a time of great personal and global uncertainty. Not only did they endure through the fears and separations caused by that war, they also persevered in uniting two very different cultures (Prussian and Sicilian), living in a multi-generational family, combining work and night school for professional advancement, raising two children, building a house, creating friendships and fulfilling commitments, and perfecting the art of retirement in mutual caring and support. What better example of perseverance can there be?
My father brought a recording of "Some Enchanted Evening" sung by Ezio Pinza to our celebration because it speaks to him of the night he met my mother totally by happen stance; he accompanying a friend to a going away party for someone called up in the draft and she attending with her father at his request to come along. Someone introduced them and at the end of the evening my father told his friend, "I am going to marry that girl."
They were married at St. Finbar's Church in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn on the hottest day of the year. She wore and heirloom Belgian lace veil and a tailored floor-length dress made of parachute silk. He wore his wool Air Corps dress uniform. A reception followed in the nearby apartment of an aunt where all enjoyed sandwiches and lots of cold beer. Washington, D.C. was the site of their honeymoon. My Dad was shipped to Guam late in 1944 and returned early in 1946 to meet his six-month old daughter for the first time.
It is absolute truth that my parents are as in love today as on the day they married. They know how to be patient with each other's idiosyncrasies, how to support and encourage, how to fight well and eventually get over it. My father, in perfect health at the age of eighty-seven, is very attentive to my mother's medical needs. When he argues with doctors about her treatment he reminds them, "I am her best friend."