Back in 1959 Fidel Castro’s army took over Cuba causing the then leader Fulgencio Baptista, to flee the country. The Soviet Union launched their first spacecraft Luna 1. Disney’s animated classic Sleeping Beauty debuted in theaters. Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper, three major rock and roll stars were killed in a tragic airplane accident. Barbie made her first appearance in toy stores. President Eisenhower signed a bill creating statehood for Hawaii. And Richard Charles Savage and Vicki Dee Martin were married and sealed for time and all eternity in the Salt Lake City Temple.
In a day and age where half of all marriages end in divorce, Dick and Vicki have managed to keep their love and commitment to one another alive for fifty years. I should know, I’ve been there to see it first hand for nearly all of those years.
I am very fortunate to come from a long line of successful marriages. The year my husband and I were married my parents celebrated their twenty-five year anniversary and my grandparents their fiftieth. As I stood with my new husband at our reception, I could barely see more than a few months or a year into the future before it disappeared into a gray fog of incomprehension. Now, as we prepare to mark our own twenty-five years of married life, I have so much more appreciation for the work, sacrifice and commitment that is necessary to create a marriage with the staying power to last half a century.
In order to make their marriage work, my parents had to learn very early to put each other’s needs first. This can’t have been easy. My father’s strong will and stubborn streak came straight from his Irish immigrant grandparents. Qualities that were essential for success in many areas of his life could have been a recipe for disaster in his marriage. My mother too was a woman of confidence and tenacity. And occasionally they would find themselves on opposing sides of a dispute. Yet it was this same stubborn and tenacious quality that pushed them to solve and resolve marital problems and stay true and faithful to each other regardless of the circumstances.
My parents sacrificed a lot in order to bring children into the world and raise them. According to the USDA, the cost of raising a child to the age of eighteen years is approximately 208,000 which means that my parents spent over a million dollars to feed, clothe and educated two daughters and three sons. And that doesn’t count the emotional and physical drain that comes with five teenage/young adult children. And yet I never heard them complain about any lack of finances in our home or the economic compromises they chose to face.
As children we spent many summers camping. Those were occasions of wonder and exploration. As my father would pull out the tent and sleeping bags to pack in the car, the smell of pine sap and outdoors clinging to the fabric would excite emotions of joy and anticipation in all of my siblings. It wasn’t till years later that I learned why we camped so much. It was the least expensive way of vacationing with a large family.
Over the years I have watched the kindness and compassion my parents have shown one another. My mother spent countless hours keeping our home neat, my father’s clothing cleaned and pressed and supporting him as he worked many long hours at his job and then took college courses after work, ultimately graduating with a bachelor’s degree. Later when my mother’s health deteriorated, I watched my father take over these tasks, caring for her needs, keeping the house clean and staying informed on the latest theories and breakthrough’s related to her illness. I believe it is these countless acts of love that account for the framework that has supported their marriage for so many years.
Four of their children are married with strong families, and number five will be joining our ranks very soon. There have been no divorces among us, not to say that there haven’t been trials and challenges. But we have been taught firsthand how to choose our spouses wisely, work through our differences and never give up. A legacy we hope is being passed down to the next generation.
And so it is, with love and tremendous admiration that we celebrate my parents golden anniversary and the fifty years of joy, pain, selfless love and respect that goes along with it. Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad.