40 Years and They’re Still Dancing

Today is a VERY, very special day. And what better place to celebrate it than on my blog and with some meaningful words (hopefully ;-)).

On June 10, 1973, at Chicago’s historic Drake Hotel, two young, native Southside-Chicagoans said “I Do” in front of all of their family and friends and then triumphantly walked down the aisle and out of the ceremony to the ever-classic love song, “We’ve Only Just Begun.” Oh, how fitting those words were! 40 years, 2 kids and 1 move to Omaha later, they’re still dancing!

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Happy Anniversary to my mother and father, two of the kindest, smartest and most impressive people that I know! I have always felt lucky to have such a great example of a loving, lasting and frankly, entertaining relationship my entire life.

Before you go off thinking I’m the sweetest child in the world, I have a confession to make: I’ve forgotten their anniversary MANY MANY times over the years. But this year, for the big 40, I thought for weeks and weeks about the perfect present to celebrate this amazing couple.

And then of course, I read Julie’s blog and got the idea just a week before their anniversary…

Their Story

Before I get to the epic gift, I want to share a few words about their “love story” as I know it. Once upon a time, in a land called Illinois, two college roommates (one at University of Illinois and one at University of Northern Illinois) decided to set up their respective roommates on a date. The two lovebirds attended Romeo and Juliet on that fateful first date, and as the woman tells it, they drove by the Drake Hotel on the way home, and she just knew she would marry that man at this hotel one day.

This is where the magic would happen...

This is where the magic would happen…

The love story grew from there, and the man asked the beautiful woman to be his New Year’s date. She said yes. For years, before the times of cell phones and emails, they navigated the sometimes rough waters of a long-distance relationship, usually seeing each other on the weekends. But they kept at it, because they knew they had something special. He was smarter and kinder than anyone she had ever met, and she was tenacious, feisty and extremely caring.

A love built to last!

A love built to last!

One bit of their love story always sticks out to me (dad, sorry about this!). My mother loves to tell the story about the time right before graduation when my father went through one of those “what am I going to do with my life?” phases. Apparently, this took a toll on their relationship, and he said he needed some time to, “figure it out.” As my mother narrates it, she said to herself, “Screw it – if he’s so confused, who needs him?!” And she got on that train and never looked back. She just knew he would come crawling back. (I think she tells me this story to show me the whole “you are an empowered woman” thing).

A few months later, when he got his astonishingly high GRE scores back (my father is a smart guy, my friends), he sheepishly called my mother wanting to share the exciting news with the one he loved the most. Awkwardly, he kept on talking, eventually giving up the fact that he clearly missed her and couldn’t live without her.

And, he wouldn’t have to. A couple years later, he made good on his promise and asked my mother to marry him.

Walking my brother down the aisle years later!

Walking my brother down the aisle years later!

Ever since, they’ve weathered quite a few ups and downs together, like every couple. The joy of children, the sadness of losing parents and friends too soon. But, what has always been clear to me is that they are 100% committed to their relationship and will stop at no cost to make it work. I love the above story, because it reminds me of the fact that there are usually a few bumps in the road on the way to happily ever after, but in the end, if you want it to work, it will! (It also reminds me that my mother is ALWAYS right…that woman has the best intuition)

Anyway, it’s impossible to buy anything that represents the truly phenomenal parents these two have been to me and my brother and their unique, remarkably strong love for each other. So, that’s why I’m using my words. At some point in your life, you reach a stage where you see your parents as “people” not just parents. I’ve reached the stage, and all of a sudden, I see these two amazingly strong people, and I can’t believe I’m lucky enough to call them my parents.

They've been there for EVERYTHING!

They’ve been there for EVERYTHING!

The Gift

When I saw on Julie’s blog that she gave her father a “60 Reasons Why You’re Loved” gift for his 60th b-day, I knew this was the perfect gift for my parents.

So I reached out to all of their friends and our family (and apologized profusely for the last-minute nature of the request) and asked them to provide me with some reasons they love my parents. The response alone was enough to make me cry – it was truly touching to see how eager their friends were to talk about how much they love them.

At my mother's surprise 60th! They've got great friends.

At my mother’s surprise 60th! They’ve got great friends.

I also spiced things up by asking them each to provide me with the 5 things they loved about each other. It was SO sweet to see how excited and nervous they were to share this information. My mother, of course, could not stick to just 5 and provided me with 9 (we are very alike!).

The result was 40 notecards, each with a special note about the overwhelming love for my parents. I placed each notecard in an envelope numbered up to 40, along with pictures that their friends were kind enough to provide.

I’m not the craftiest person around (though I am great with computers), so the project was quite challenging at times. Big thanks to the BF for pinch hitting on the crafty parts.

My messy workspace.

My messy workspace.

However, as it all started to come together, we could see that it was going to be something special.

All coming together...

All coming together…

Some of the pictures and words that people provided were just so moving.

P1010155

P1010153But by far, the highlight of the gift was the beautiful words that my parents said to each other.

P1010156 P1010158After all words and pictures had been printed and placed into their proper envelope, we wrapped it all up with pretty bows and ran over to FedEx (last minute, like I said!)

All wrapped up and ready to go to Omaha!

All wrapped up and ready to go to Omaha!

I can’t wait for my parents to read all of the beautiful words about each other!

Bag decoration courtesy of this not-so-crafty Sometimes Healthy Girl!

Bag decoration courtesy of this not-so-crafty Sometimes Healthy Girl!

Happy Anniversary to two of the best parents, and people, that I know!

ericjamiejulieruss

YOUR TURN!

Share in the spirit – tell me about a recent anniversary or anniversary of your loved one! Did you get he or she a special gift? Did your significant other do something special for you?

12 Thoughts on “40 Years and They’re Still Dancing

  1. Annie Nogg Jason on 10 June, 2013 at 12:40 pm said:

    Jamie,
    What a nice gift!!!! So thoughtful and crafty!
    -Annie

  2. Julie on 10 June, 2013 at 1:51 pm said:

    Such a thoughtful gift that I can’t wait to see, and that I know your parents will cherish always! Also, I love this post! What a fabulous and special tribute to their love and marriage! Xo

  3. Aww what a sweet story- beautiful post!

  4. Wow that is such an amazing gift! Congrats on their 40th!

  5. what a lovely story! and such a thoughtful gift :) thank you for sharing!

  6. Pingback: WIAW: The Return of the Egg Muffin | The Sometimes Healthy Living Blog

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