By E. Adam Porter
Editor in Chief, News of Sun City Center
“April showers bring May flowers…” the old rhyme goes. Fortunately, for us here in Florida, April also brings great weather that lasts much longer than the season. Sunny skies, breezy days and a welcome respite to the humid oven we know is coming in August.
In my home, April also brings celebrations and reminders. One April Saturday, a good many years ago, my bride and I said “I do” for the first time, a commitment we have renewed every day since. Sometimes, those re-commitments have been easy. Other times, they’ve been made through gritted teeth and clenched fists. Sure, you get mad when you’re married … and if you’re smart, you try not to say or do anything really stupid until you get over it. Good communication helps… though there are times when, in the moment, no communication is wiser.
Anniversaries help us mark the passage of time. The songwriter once said, “if time heals all wounds, time also deals them…” There’s truth in that, but I wonder if we would be better off focusing less on the wounds and more on the happier memories. Seems to have worked for us so far.
Recently, The News published a story about anniversary couples in this community, all of whom had been married at least 60 years, many of them more than 70. There’s something special in a marriage that lasts longer than many folks get to live. When I talk to some of those folks about the secret to their success, they don’t talk about regrets … sure, they share memories, but mostly, they talk about “today.” They look back at where they’ve been through the lens of celebrating where they are.
That inspired me to take stock of where my family is with our anniversary coming up. What are our reasons to celebrate? We’re living in a place we love and doing what we want to do. That alone makes my bride and I luckier than a lot of folks, and I don’t ever want to take that for granted.
Our “big guy” will celebrate “24” this year, and that’s a little hard to believe. That cherubic little boy who loved playing at the beach – and may have been known to eat a little sand – is overseas, helping defend our country in the USAF. He’s in one hotspot until October, when he ships out to another, where he’ll finish his first hitch. We talked to him the other day, and the big topic of conversation was “what next?” Will he stay in, get out … what are his options? I love having those conversations with him, because I’ve been trying to instill that way of thinking since he was little. Every action we take and every decision we make has consequences, they limit our options by default. And that can be a good thing. These days, every time I talk to him it seems like he’s “getting” that idea more and more.
Our two little guys aren’t so little anymore. We were surprised and delighted, some years back, when we learned we would be having more kids. Sure, plans changed and goals shifted, but we’re loving it. Raising kids now is much different than it was in our 20s, in some good ways and others … well, let’s just say I’d love to have the energy I did back then. Our younger children are at that age where it seems like they make quantum leaps month-to-month. Not that long ago, they were chewing on books, now they’re reading them. There’s been years in between, but it sure doesn’t seem like it. The boys are strong, happy and healthy … and that’s an unfathomable blessing. Earlier this week I spoke with a friend whose nephew is undergoing cancer treatment. That sort of conversation puts a lot of things in perspective, makes you appreciate even the days when you wake up to sibling squabbles or something broken.
And, of course, April makes me think about my bride, who she was the day I first took her hand, and who we are together all these years later. Honestly, she doesn’t look much different, every bit as beautiful, and she’s even more committed to what we’re building together as she was when neither of us really had any idea what that would entail. Weddings are all about promises we mean but don’t remotely understand. Anniversaries are reminders of what we learned … and they challenge us to recommit to each other now that we know more.
Looking back over the years, we know what it’s like, now, to love through sickness or in anger, as well as in health and happiness. We have learned what it truly means to support each other through weakness and struggles and to celebrate each other’s successes. We’ve learned that all-important kindergarten lesson: how to share. Our hearts, our minds, our money, our time … even our french fries. And, as I mark another year, all of this reminds me of so many more reasons to celebrate.