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What’s Your Advice?

            “This is our 50th anniversary picture,” I told Tour Guide who held Husband’s camera.

“Really?” the young man said.  “50 years? Move to the left a little and I have a question after pictures.”

            At the beginning of 2019, I declared the year an anniversary celebration, but this day, August 3, was our wedding date. Husband and I stood on a mountain road in Montenegro overlooking the Adriatic Sea, thousands of miles from the church in Tennessee where we married. 

            Tour Guide handed Husband the camera and said, “I got several pictures. I can’t believe you’ve been married 50 years.  I want to ask my girlfriend to marry me.  What’s your advice?” 

            Husband and I responded simultaneously.  He said, “Compromise.”  I said, “Commitment.”  Husband added, “Pick your battles,” and I said, “Commit forever.”  A friend travelling with us chimed in, “You’ll both make mistakes. Just don’t make a big deal out of them.” 

            “Yes. Overlook. That’s my second word of advice,” I said.  Tour Guide walked with me, talked about his girlfriend, and said he wanted an old-fashioned, traditional family life.  He asked that I repeat our advice. Compromise. Commitment. Overlook.  Husband’s and my responses were spontaneous, and since that day I’ve thought of those words.   

Compromise.  Our home thermostat is set at 71 degrees.  Husband wears long pants and a lightweight fleece.  I wear shorts and a short sleeve t-shirt.  When Husband isn’t home for a few days, the thermostat is 68 on winter days, 70 on hot days, and down to 65 on cold nights. Husband moves the setting up when I’m out of town and sheds his fleece.  Some compromises are daily; some are once a lifetime.

            Commitment. I said, “I, Susan, take you, Allen, to be my husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death.  This is my solemn vow.”  I pledged to be with Husband no matter what happens. A minister told a bride and groom at the end of their wedding ceremony, “You made promises to each other while God and your family and friends listened.  Now, keep them!”  Our trials haven’t been major, but we’ve endured stressful days, weeks, years and knowing that Husband and I value our vows has eased those times.  A promise is a promise. 

Overlook.  Thankfully, Husband overlooks mistakes.  Like the time our car insurance bill was sky high.  Both our children were teen-agers and, assuming the extremely high charge was for Son, I fumed and ranted.  Husband calmly pointed out that the children’s billings were the same and my insurance had increased.  He let me conclude that three recent speeding tickets had made me an insurance risk.  Mistakes happen – sometimes based on poor judgment.

            Husband and I agree that compromise, commitment, and overlooking have stood us well in our marriage.  But relationships are based on one word.  At the end of the tour, I said to Tour Guide, “You know a marriage is about love and love shows itself in many ways. Just love her.” ####

A Clear Blue Sky October Day

search-1When I drove past the Putnam County Courthouse yesterday, I paused to remember an event that took place there on October 28, 1938. The day my parents married. I don’t have a single picture of them on their wedding day. Just pictures in my mind.

Mom was young, only 19. Dad was 26. Seems quite a gap in ages. But I’m sure Mom was mature for her age; she was the oldest of three sisters and had been forced to take the responsibility of her family’s daily home life when her mother became ill. Dad had completed three years of college and taught in the Pickett County schools and worked with his grandfather on the family farm.

One summer Sunday afternoon after Mom graduated from high school, she and Dad were among the many young people who gathered for a weekly pick-up baseball game in a farm field. After the game, Dad offered Mom a ride home and that was the first time they were in a car together. Mom’s sister told me that after that Sunday afternoon, Dad was always around their house.

With both their parents’ blessings, Dad and Mom travelled alone from their homes in Byrdstown to Cookeville on that October day in 1938. Mom worn a plum colored, knee-length satin dress that she’d made. When they arrived at the courthouse, they had all the paperwork in order and a judge agreed to marry them. All they needed was a witness.

It was suggested that someone from a store could be a witness. While Mom waited in the judge’s office, Dad walked across the street to Terry Brother’s Department Store (now the Lighthouse.) As soon as he walked in the store a sales clerk asked if he needed someone to ‘stand up with him and his bride.’ So their only witness was a woman who had apparently witnessed many other weddings.

Mom and Dad took a weekend honeymoon trip to the Smokey Mountain National Park. As they drove through Lenoir City late that Friday afternoon, they heard music, a high school band playing. Dad took advantage of the situation and told his new bride, “Listen, the band is playing just for us.” That’s the only event of the honeymoon that Mom shared with her younger sisters.

I wish I’d known my parents on their wedding day and during their early years of marriage. By the time I came along, they’d been married for almost nine years and they had my brother, five years older than me. Dad had served time in the army during World War II. While he was away, Mom divided her time living with her parents and her mother-in-law.

The best glimpse I have of my parents as a young couple is a letter Dad wrote to Mom on March 20, 1946, from Karlsruhe, Germany, where he was stationed as a solider. The first lines are, “This is the letter I’ve dreamed of writing. I’m on my way home.” And the last lines read, “Darling, I do love you. Right now I’m just so darned happy.”

I can imagine that on a clear blue sky fall day in 1938 inside the Putnam County Courthouse, a beautiful bride and a handsome groom were both just so darned happy.


Aunt Anne’s Recipes

imagesAunt Anne would be proud – at least, I think she would.  Husband and I are celebrating our anniversary this week and I’ve tried to follow her advice.  When we married, Aunt Anne gave me a card file box filled with 3 x 5 cards.  On the first card, she wrote “Recipes – Family Favorites and Other Things.”  There wasn’t one single recipe for food.  “Someone who likes to cook will have to fill out all those blank cards,” she told me.  Aunt Anne, really my great aunt, shared other things.

How to live on a budget – Have it printed on the rug.

How to avoid in-law trouble – Stay away from them.  But remember that your mother-in-law and father-in-law spent a whole lot of time and money to produce that man and they are handing over the finished product to you —- for free!  Be kind to them.  In twenty-some short years you might be a mother-in-law.  (It was 27 years.)

Aunt Anne used two cards, front and back, to write about Money and Marriage.  Let’s face it girls, it’s still a man’s world!  (This year was 1969.)  Oh, we get jobs and sometimes make more than the men.  We vote.  We stick our little pinkies in the world affairs, but we still rock the cradle.  In the biological process of filling that cradle, we’re just as old fashioned as Grandma.  For a time, we are dependent.  So it might be a good idea to know how Grandma managed money long before the female executive with the fat salary came along.

Grandma raised chickens, sold cream, taught music, sewed, and resorted to trickery.  She padded the household accounts, filled his wine cup, then raided his pockets, and she had the vapors.  Now there was a malady worth money!

Grandma swooned, looked fragile and clung to Grandpa’s big strong hand.  All the while sending out messages with her fluttering eyelids that penetrated the depth of his protective instinct.  Grandma just wasn’t able to make that kettle of soap nor do the week’s wash so Grandpa hired it done.

This was not the devious trick that it sounds.  Grandpa felt ten feet tall, with a large chest expansion and everybody was happy.  Some variation of this theme has been used thru the ages.  Applied with discretion, it will rate a washer and dryer to this day.

Aunt Anne might not have liked to spend time in the kitchen, but she knew the importance of putting food on the table.  Tis’ said, she wrote, that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.  There are times it seems like the long way around.

And she gave me a recipe entitled How to Hold Your Man.  Tie Him!  Tie him with a mixture of kindness, consideration, honesty, truthfulness.  Leaven with common sense.  Spice with a pinch of temper and a good argument now and then.  Frost with lots of hugs and kisses.

So here I am, 44 years later, still happily married to Husband and relishing Aunt Anne’s recipes.  There’s one bit of advice that’s as difficult to master as it was as a newlywed.  She stated it simple and straightforward.  How to avoid a fuss with your husband – Shut your mouth.