"Live a good life, and in the end, it’s not the years in the life, it’s the life in the years."

True companions: What the newlyweds didn’t know the golden celebrants understand

By on February 26, 2019 in Uncategorized with 3 Comments
Linda and Ken Reid: Married on Friday the 13th.

By Linda Reid

Sometimes life has an interesting way of bringing us to a point in time where we take a deep breath and push “pause.” 

If we have been blessed to live long enough, it can remind us that we have a much shorter time ahead of us than we see behind us when we look at our lives through the rear-view mirror. This “pause” experience happened to me near the end of 2018 when my husband Ken and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary. 

On Friday, Dec. 13, 1968 (Yes! We actually got married on Friday the 13th. Who does that?) I woke up to the realization that I was a bride whose short walk down the aisle that very evening would change my life permanently. 

We were only 19 and 21 and too young to understand what was really required of us to make that kind of life-long commitment. Obviously, it worked out for us, but we always advised our daughter and son, especially when they got to their late teen years, not to follow in our footsteps regarding early marrying. 

On Dec. 13, 2018 we woke up on a cruise ship just arriving in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. What a contrast to that stormy, Friday the 13th night when I had to put galoshes on over my white satin wedding shoes and run across the street from the church’s bridal dressing room, in the pouring down rain with someone running beside me with a giant umbrella. 

In between those two days of celebration we had experienced a 50-year journey together that sculpted us into the “true companions” we had naively imagined and hoped we would become. 

We were blessed to have had parents and grandparents who modeled longevity for us in their marriages. We were able to celebrate Ken’s parents’ 50th anniversary just a few months before his Dad lost his five-year fight with lymphoma. 

My parents reached their 50th but we chose not to have a big event since my Dad was five years into his Alzheimer’s diagnosis and having lots of people around was confusing for him. 

I even remember my paternal grandparents’ celebration of their golden anniversary when I was not more than five years old. I remember thinking they were “really old” as our family gathered in my Aunt Mary’s yard to honor their half a century of years together. Physically they were a striking couple. My Grandfather, Clyde, was 6 feet, 6 inches tall and my Grandma, Jessie, was just under 5 feet.

 In addition to these amazing family role models we have a list of couples we know who have also somehow managed to hold onto each other for 50 years (or even more). 

If we were to ask each of these couples how they were able to reach that benchmark in their marriages, they would all have unique answers. Some would say forgiveness was the key. Another might say they were always open in their communication with each other. 

Few would be likely to say “physical attraction” was the lasting secret for them. 

I am fairly certain most couples our age in the “Golden Anniversary club” repeated the traditional vows to each other at their weddings. Couples in more recent years often write their own vows, which seems much more personal, but there was something about those old-fashioned promises that ignited a kind of determination in Ken and in me that stayed flickering (admittedly not always burning bright!) through five decades: “for better or for worse,” “in sickness and in health,” “for richer or for poorer,” and “until death do us part.”

In the earlier years of our marriage we used to say, “marriage is a 50/50 partnership.” But the more years that have gone by the more we have come to understand it is often much less in balance than that implies. 

Sometimes it is 70/30 and sometimes it is even 90/10. 

When our kids were six and three, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and spent almost three weeks in the hospital. Ken was the one who had to do the heavy lifting in the marriage. 

When he went through several bouts of depression, it was me on the care-giving side. When I was fighting breast cancer, it was back on him again. When our son-in-law took his own life, it was both of us giving everything we had to our daughter and grandkids. Then it was our friends who were there for us to nurture and support us when neither of us could give the other one what we needed. 

Life takes us all on a kind of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. 

That ride for us has been full of joys: children, grandchildren, friends, fulfilling work, travel, spending time enjoying the beauty of nature as well as the comfort of our home. 

But it has also had its share of challenges: serious illnesses, times of intense grief, financial issues, and a multitude of life struggles that present themselves to all of us in one form or another throughout our life journeys. 

Somehow, we were able to keep making the decision every day to keep loving each other while at the same time never letting go of who we each were individually. 

Reflecting on these years we have had together, we know our marriage was not a do-it-yourself project. It was also about the support we had from family and friends. 

Family and friends were there for us when we were young and in love, repeating our vows on that rainy Friday the 13th December night. Relationships with friends (new and old) and family (many of them not with us any more) have strengthened our marriage and enriched our lives. We are truly grateful to them all. 

The truth is that our 50th anniversary was not just about us! 

Linda Reid is a retired teacher and currently subbing in the Eastmont School District. She and Ken lived all their married life in Seattle until their retirement in 2016 when they moved from the dark side and bought a home in East Wenatchee.

Together today, after 50 years.

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There Are 3 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Thomas says:

    What a great story .. a look back at ones life .. the joys and the sorrows .. Mrs. Reid writes with truth, depth and love .. thank you Linda and Ken Reid for your lives and your passions!!

  2. Terica A Ginther says:

    What an inspiration! Truer words have never been spoken!

  3. Carol McLaughlin says:

    Linda thanks for sharing your 50 years with us. The moments and milestones of life. Like you we feel an attachment to the ‘old’ vows. In a few months we will celebrate 55 years and we look forward to that day.
    Best regards Carol & Bob

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