Dad and Mom Zowie: Happy Golden Anniversary!
Sent off to the Beeville Bee-Picayune…
By Richard Zowie
If you’ve ever spent any time around the Zowie family during gatherings, you’re bound to hear this amusing story:
A U.S. Army serviceman, born in Colorado but raised in Torrance, Calif. (a suburb of Los Angeles) is stationed at Fort Sill, Okla., in the late 1950s. He’s just finished a hamburger at a diner and is about to start on his second one when Conrad, his Army buddy from southwestern Oklahoma, tells him:
“Richard, this is Joy.”
Joy was Conrad’s friend and the young lady Richard had been writing to over the past several months.
Richard (or Dad, as I call him) apparently didn’t finish his second hamburger. But a few months later on May 16, 1959, he and Joy (whom I call Mom) were married.
And on May 16, 2009, Dad and Mom celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. A few days before, Mom told me it would be just an ordinary day of staying busy and getting things done.
That’s what she thought, as Dad surprised her with a night out and a gathering of my sisters and their families. (Unfortunately, being in Michigan, I wasn’t able to attend).
Mom told me they also received an item from President Barack Obama commemorating their 50th anniversary. I wasn’t surprised, since when my wife’s grandparents reached their 50th anniversary back in 2002, the U.S. House of Representatives issued a proclamation recognizing it.
Commendations from the U.S. House and from the President himself are fitting for such an occasion. Fifty years is a long time, especially when you consider that many marriages today won’t even last half that long. We live in a culture where marriages come and go. Hardly a day goes by without reading of a celebrity couple divorcing, some after only a few months of marriage. Some seem to exchange marriage partners the way normal folks change dirty clothes for clean ones. Even Mel Gibson and his wife, Robyn, are divorcing after more than 25 years. Someone once quipped that a 10-year marriage in Hollywood was equivalent to a 50-year marriage in the “real” world.
Let’s put 50 years into perspective:
Dad and Mom were married four years when my oldest sister, Sabrina (who’s, um, um, let’s just say “past 40”, was born. Sabrina was also born a few days before President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
Six years when my sister, Kimberly (who passed away in infancy), was born.
Seven years when my sister, Misti, was born.
Ten years when America landed on the moon.
Twelve years when Bobby Fischer became the first American world chess champion.
Thirteen years when yours truly was born.
Seventeen years during the 1976 bicentennial.
Twenty years when the Shah fled Iran during that country’s Islamic revolution.
Twenty-five years during the 1984 Summer Olympic games in Los Angeles (coincidentally, near where Dad grew up).
Forty years in 1999 during the Y2K frenzy.
From what I’ve observed in my parents along with interviewing another couple that had been married for 50 years, the secret towards golden bliss is there’s really no secret. Successful marriages do take hard work, but they require the fundamentals.
Communication. Spending time together. Being thoughtful. Being friends.
The times I’ve observed my parents over the years, they also seem like close friends who like to tease each other. It’s also about purposing to yourself that this is the person you want to spend your life with and that you’ll do everything you can to be happy and to make them happy. Marriage is also about budgeting, paying bills and addressing issues when they come up.
Under these circumstances I often think if people choose to view marriage as a business deal and want their partner to sign a pre-nuptial agreement, then they’re not ready for marriage. If you’re one to employ a “just in case this marriage doesn’t work” approach, then you really should ask if you’re marrying the person who’s right for you.
The next time a celebrity magazine does a story about the latest ugly divorce in Hollywood and who’s accusing whom of what, maybe they should instead devote an issue to profiling couples who’ve been married 50 years. Instead of finding out why marriages fail, readers could benefit more from hearing about successful marriages and why they succeed.