He is not the same man she married 50 years ago.
She is not the same woman he married 50 years ago.
Marriage has a funny way of doing that to people. It weakens you. It strengthens you. It makes you a better person than you are alone.
“When one is down, the other is holding them up,” my mother says. “We each have our strengths. I think I’m going to cry, but I cannot imagine the things we have gone through, your dad and I, that I could’ve gone through with anybody else.”
My father adds, “When we got married, there was absolutely no doubt in your mind this is forever. We made a point of that in our marriage. The secret, I think, if there even is a secret, is to not get all bent out of shape on the little things.”
On April 4, 1964, Mary Ann Jacobs married Don Trinko. Some people questioned their rapid romance. This 21-year-old man had just met the 19-year-old daughter of a tailor five months earlier. They went on their first date the day of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, Nov. 22, 1963.
This weekend, our family celebrates their fruitful marriage, one that shows their children and their friends that their Catholic faith, their love and and their commitment to the wedding vows can help you overcome anything.
“Fifty years later, and seven kids later, I think we did something right,” my mother jokes.
They may have married quickly, but it’s been a long courtship for the two of them. They continue to learn about each other and evolve in their marriage. They have old-fashioned values, but they change as the times change.
My father remembers the wisdom of a high school teacher: “When you get married, you’re not really in love. You’re infatuated. Love comes as time goes by.”
It’s hard to fathom 50 years together, although I understand their path. I proposed to my wife just three months after our first date. We were older, though, and we’ll both have to make it to 80 to celebrate our 50th anniversary. For now, we’ll enjoy our seven years together and dream about how we’ll evolve over the next 43.
Times were so different when they married. The man was the boss of the house, and the wife was subservient in those days, they both said. The man’s role was breadwinner, and it’s one my father took seriously. My mother kept up the house, and my father worked to bring home the money for his household.
It’s fascinating to watch as they evolved from stage to stage in life, from newlyweds to new parents, from parents to empty-nesters.
Now, they’re equal partners. My father washes the laundry; my mother folds it. They’ve learned to share the burden and the joy.
They had their tests over time. My oldest sister was born with a cleft palate, a birth defect when the roof of a baby’s mouth doesn’t form properly.It’s a common surgery to fix it now, but it was a riskier proposition in the 1960s. My father feared doing something wrong, my mother says, and instantly became protective and wouldn’t let most people hold or feed the newborn.
There were other obstacles over the years. There were new jobs and cross-country moves. There were lost jobs at the worst possible times. There were the joys of having seven children and the sad days of two miscarriages.
“Marriage is an adventure. You don’t know what you’re getting into until you’re in it,” my mother says. “At times you question why I’m doing this, and you feel like you’re walking through quicksand. Every once in a while, the step lightens.”
They celebrated their anniversary Friday the same way they spent that first day together as man and wife, at Mass. A blessing at Mass on Sunday commemorates what God truly blessed those 50 years ago, something obvious when all the children, grandchildren and now even one great-grandchild gathered in Findlay on Saturday to celebrate it.
“I really don’t have any regrets,” my mother says. “I can’t imagine living life without your father. I don’t want to imagine it.”
My dad adds, “Don’t tell anyone, but I think I’m going to keep her around.”