Monday, December 27, 2010

The 50th Anniversary Party

The 50th Anniversary Celebration is in the books, and it was a smashing success. More than 100 friends and family members gathered on Dec. 18 to share this incredible occasion. I even managed to get through my speech without dissolving into sobs! I had to stop listening to my brother when he was speaking – his quoting of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116 just about did me in!

Here’s an excerpt from what I said about my parents:  Their life has always been together. They were born the same year, graduated from high school the same year, both became teachers, and since meeting at Ga. Southern, have never been apart. For most of the last half of their working lives, they even worked together. Even after they retired, they continued working together in their consulting and antique businesses.

My brother and I have always felt like we grew up in Mayberry. We moved around some before settling in Chattahoochee, which was a wonderful place to grow up. We were part of the last generation who could ride our bikes all over town without worrying. And if we were doing anything we shouldn’t have, news of our escapades usually made it home before we did.

Michael and I loved football, but neither of them cared much for it, but they bought season tickets to FSU games for years. Mom became a huge fan – just ask her about her favorite players, Rohn Stark and Dennis McKinnon!  They were always doing stuff we wanted to do,  and supported whatever it was we did.

They were strict when they needed to be, merciful when we didn’t deserve it, and always made us laugh. One thing that we have always had plenty of is laughter. And when the tough times came, we managed to laugh and love our way through those too.

I’ll never forget my senior year in high school. The family business was suffering and on the verge of failure. Of course, Michael and I had no idea. Mom and Dad had always been frugal, and I didn’t miss out on anything that I remember. But I had big dreams of going off to college and making my way in the world – I even dreamed about going to New York. We had been talking about moving to Tallahassee, as Dad had gotten a new job. Mom and Dad sat me down and told me that they wouldn’t be able to afford to send me to college. I was stunned, but they told me that if I would live at home and go to TCC for the first two years, they would do everything they could to send me wherever I wanted to go my last two years.

God’s hand was all over that situation. Their business losses were so large that my first two years of school were basically paid for. At TCC I got to be the editor in chief of the student newspaper, and got to go to the College Press Association conference in New York! Plus, living at home, I kept a 3.5 GPA! And true to their word, they sent me to Auburn for my last two years of school. It was truly the best decision I could have made.

Also during that senior year, they knew I would need a car, but couldn’t afford to buy me anything new. We’ve always been a Volkswagen family, so they told me I could have a VW Bug. We started looking, and I fell in love with this orange convertible I saw. But, it was out of our price range, so I was content with this yellow one with a sunroof and cloth seats. But when Dad came driving up with my car, it was the orange convertible. Somehow, they pinched pennies, with a little help from my Grandmother, and I had my dream car.

But when I did leave home, like a lot of kids, I wandered away from God. Mom and Dad knew it, but never let that detract from their love for me. I would come home from Auburn with photos of the long-haired, heavy metal rockers I was hanging out with, and they would grit their teeth and smile. And Mom would write me letters, reminding me that I needed to put God first in my life. At the time, I was kind of irritated, but I love that she never gave up on me, or condemned me. She and Daddy loved me through it all.

And I have given them a lot of those gray hairs on their heads. But no matter what scrape I get into, what crisis befalls me, or whenever I need a loan from the First National Bank of Dad, they have always been there for me. I’m so happy to have them here in Jacksonville. I love having my whole family in one place.

Not having a family of my own, I cling to my Mama and Daddy a lot. I’ve always said the reason I’ve never married is that I want what they have, and that doesn’t happen anymore. But I thank God every day for giving me to the best parents in the world.

Here are a few photos from the day. Enjoy!

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