Passing a 50-year marriage milestone

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Column by Jim Clark

Last weekend, I did something I don’t usually get the chance to do … take the entire weekend off. But trust me, I had a good reason.
It was 50 years ago that I stood at the front of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Tenafly, New Jersey, and watched as my bride Pat, looking great as always, walked up the long aisle in her beautiful white dress, beaming as she and her dad approached.
And now here we were, asking, “Where have the years gone?”
I’m sure many of you out there have had the same question as you mark the milestones of life.
It isn’t easy being married to a newspaper worker. Over the years I’ve had to be on the road covering various events, many times sporting events. I’ve worked for companies that had meetings out of town … I’ve been to company meetings in Louisville and Lexington, Kentucky; Atlanta, New York, Minneapolis and some others I can’t even recall.
All this time she was home taking care of four growing children, and working, at first part time, to supplement our income.
There was another activity that she had to put up with … I was a high school football and basketball official. That took me to games all over Florida, long trips that took me away until late at night.
To this day, when she’s closely watching a football game with me, the topic of officials wearing black pants sometimes comes up. When I was out there, it was white pants, and she used to have to wash them, a tedious chore after a game on a wet and muddy field. No artificial turf in high school games.
As I mentioned, there were four children. I was shy as a child (honest, I kid you not) and so was she, but I saw her change over the years because of her work, especially in retail. She retired last year after years at Macy’s selling children’s clothes, which she was very good at doing. Me, I’d never make a good salesman.
I made sure that the three boys at least tried baseball, which I also coached, so they would be in front of a crowd, and they all eventually became band members in high school. My daughter played softball, basketball and ran track, so when she became a teacher she was used to being in front of people. No shyness there.
That’s why this weekend’s gathering was special … as Pat says, it’s all about family. All four of our children and 10 out of a dozen grandchildren were there (one couldn’t come, and the other lives in Indiana, the only out-of-state immediate family member so far).
We had said no gifts, but they didn’t listen and chipped in to get us a nice present. One of them kidded about being grounded for disobeying.
Our weekend also included a rule made by me that my wife would do no cooking. On Saturday, we went out to breakfast and dinner, with the USO show at the Civic Theatre in between. Sunday with the kids was pizza and chicken, which for our family is normal … no formal dining here.
I remember back to 1992 when my parents celebrated their 50th. They rented out the old Knights of Columbus Hall and had fancy decorations and a crowd of friends. To be honest, I liked ours better. As I said before, it’s all about family.
So now we embark on the next part of our marital journey. Who knows where it will lead? Hopefully, we’ll be around for a while. 75 years, maybe? We’ll see.
Did I mention it isn’t easy being married to me?
Jim Clark is the editor of the West Marion Messenger and South Marion Citizen.