Good as Gold

A black and white shot of a senior couple holding hands

I’d like to give a shout out to my in-laws who celebrated their golden anniversary last week.

Fifty freakin’ years!

That’s no small feat in this world and I’m thinking it’s going to become even more a rarity. More and more people are shackin’ up and bailin’ out, which might eventually diminish Oriental Trading Company’s anniversary line, so those who are committed for the long haul might want to stock up now.

To celebrate this extraordinary occasion, we kids put our noggins together to come up with a boffo bash to honor a promise that’s endured five decades. My in-laws said they just wanted a simple family celebration day. Scratch the plan to rent Winnabegos and road trip to all fifty states to represent fifty years in the state of matrimony.

Another time, I guess.

We kicked off the sunny celebratory Saturday with plans for a family portrait. My mother-in-law arrived at the picturesque Logan temple grounds on the arm of her beloved beaming with joy and looking radiant in a powder blue dress suit, which was suddenly sullied when she caught her foot on a curb and face-planted in the parking lot. We panicked as we imagined this special day of celebration spiraling into a tragic day of hospitalization.

We rented a reception center, hired a caterer, put up decorations, forgot tablecloths, set up a sound system and prepared a classic Carpenters ballad serenade which might all be for naught.

Our matriarch assured us she was bumped and bruised, but fine as we helped her up and brushed her off. The rest of the day she put on a good face, but I knew she was in more pain than she let on. At first, I thought how unfortunate and unfair that untimely tumble was to taint such an occasion. But as I watched her try to hide a hobble, dismiss assistance with a suspect smile and lean on her sweetheart for stability, I thought how the mishap was representative of how this devoted couple has survived fifty years together.

They’ve enjoyed a wonderful life, but had their share of challenges. First off, they spent the first few months of their married life living in a tent in the woods. (Yeah, that might have been a deal breaker for me.) Then, they had to move in with parents for a while. (They probably preferred sharing their living space with bears.) Of course they endured much more and far worse over fifty years of building a life and raising a family together, but they’re committed to each other and didn’t let hard times trip them up.

We had a perfect day planned for them, just like a couple has a perfect life planned for themselves when they look into each other’s clueless eyes and pledge their love for life and longer. How unfortunate and unfair that untimely tumbles will taint such an occasion. We say “for better or worse,” but nobody really considers worse though worse does come and couples who make it to the precious metal anniversaries are those who hobble if they must, smile if they can and lean on each other.

After all, gold is made beautiful through a refining process.

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