50 Years of Magic… Cheers to a Golden Couple!

Freeman 50 invite
My parents on their wedding day, June 29, 1968.

My mom and dad met in 1961 during their junior year of high school. My mom told me she had her eye on dad from the start and got his attention by first becoming friends with his cousin. (You have to be careful with the quiet ones, you never know what they might be orchestrating) Once they were formally introduced they hit it off and they have been together ever since.

Together As One- It occurred to me that besides mom’s older brother and a few of dad’s grade school friends, the majority of the people at their 50th wedding anniversary party have never known Keith without his Janet or Janet without her Keith. Throughout their 50 years of marriage they have spent only a handful of nights a part from one another. Besides a few nights away for work related conferences and the work trips dad accompanied me on during the early part of my pregnancy, my mom and dad have spent a mere dozen or so days without seeing each other. That’s 18,250 days minus a few but not including the seven years they knew each other before they got married! I guess it’s safe to say they like being together!

My mom and dad celebrating 50 yers of marriage, June 2018.

What Makes a Successful Marriage? Two people can have a successful marriage when they have a strong faith and similar tastes and interests. Mom and dad are active members in their church, they are both educators, they enjoy attending live theatre and they are Beatles fans. In 1965 they went on a date to see the Beatles in concert at Busch Stadium! But a couple can only happily celebrate 50 years of marriage when they compliment each other and that is one area where my mom and dad have excelled. In fact, neither of them would have graduated from college without teamwork, dad completing all of moms art for the elementary teacher projects and mom editing (well, let’s be honest, rewriting) most of dad’s papers for him. Mom is the quiet reserved part of their duo while dad is the outgoing one! They both collaborated in raising me, worked together to care for aging family members and over the years have created some fabulous holiday traditions and celebrations that they enjoy sharing with others.

The Engagement- On a humid evening in the middle of July 1967, my parents went to The Muny in Forest Park to see a production of Funny Girl. They both enjoy musical theatre and were fellow thespians in high school (dad behind the scenes painting the sets and mom supporting the production as a member of the chorus) Before the show began dad proposed to mom in front of the magnificent Muny with the picturesque pond and gazebo as a backdrop. Mom said yes and the show Funny Girl with the popular song People quickly became “their” show. A year later on June 29, 1968, the two were married in front of family and friends and today they are celebrating 50 years of marriage!

A Marriage With a Strong Foundation- What do you give a couple who has everything they could possibly want? Well, my husband and I thought about it and decided to get them a brick to commemorate their 50 years of marriage. A brick is strong, just like their marriage. Life would be easy if it was simply filled with celebration but during mom and dad’s 50 years of marriage the two have been faced with loss and have experienced some struggles. But even through times of uncertainty they have supported each other, loved each other and their marriage remained as strong as this brick. But this isn’t any ordinary brick just as their marriage is anything but ordinary. This brick is a commemorative brick that will be placed at The Muny in Forest Park just a few feet from where my parents got engaged 51 years ago. The Muny is celebrating 100 years this summer while mom and dad are celebrating their 50th so there is a lot to celebrate! And the inscription reads…

50 Years of Magic

1968-2018

Mr & Mrs K. Freeman

A picture taken at The Muny during their 40th wedding anniversary.

Let’s raise a glass to Janet and Keith in celebration of 50 magical years of marriage. Blessings for many more! You are truly golden together.

Portions of this article were part of a speech/toast I read to my parents at their 50th wedding anniversary party.

A Wonderous Voyage 

When my family and I embarked on a seven day cruise to Alaska on the Disney Wonder I was prepared for a truly magical experience. But after a challenging flight where I had to physically restrain my two year old during take off ( in fear that we would get kicked off the plane) I was beginning to have my doubts about the trip. She didn’t improve as we made our way through the ship’s boarding procedure, refusing to have anyone but mommy console her and I ended up carrying her every step of the way. Sadly, our trip was quickly losing its magic.

Once on the ship we encountered crowded elevators and a mass of people making their way up to deck nine for the castaway party. Through all of the chaos a mother and her daughter caught my attention. They were positively glowing and I don’t know if I was attracted to them because of their fashionable nautical wardrobe or the fact that as mother and daughter they looked so happy to simply be together. I admired their special bound and hope my daughter and I have a relationship like theirs when she grows into a young adult.

We made our way up to deck nine with only minutes to spare before showtime. There were people everywhere and even more people looking down on us from deck ten! As we frantically looked for a place to stand, a Disney cast member took down the rope blocking a gazebo and ushered us inside, giving us the perfect spot to see the show! My daughter shimmered with excitement as Mickey Mouse and friends filled the stage with animated enthusiasm. We danced along to the spirited party music and Chip the Chipmunk captured her heart by blowing a kiss her way!

After the characters and dancers left the stage I turned around. To my surprise, there was the mother/daughter pair who had caught my eye outside the elevators on our frenzied dash to the show! I continued to feel drawn to them and wrangled between approaching them and keeping to myself. Although I questioned my decision, something inside of me pushed away any decisiveness and I made my way over to them. I quickly explained that I usually don’t approach random strangers but wanted to complement them on their stylish cruise attire. They in turn complemented my family and I on our matching cruise t-shirts, adding that they enjoyed watching my little princess dance. I told them we were on the cruise to celebrate my parents’ 49th wedding anniversary (visiting our 49th state for 49 years of marriage.) Through teary eyes they told me they were cruising together in memory of their beloved husband/father who passed on a year ago after a tremendous fight with cancer. I am not an overly emotional person but tears welled in my eyes as I immediately embraced them and said, “Your husband/father is here on the cruise with you. I don’t know how to explain it but I just feel his presence.” I assured them I wasn’t claiming to be a medium or a psychic or anything like that. It was just something I felt that I couldn’t completely articulate.

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Tracee and Brooklyn pose for a picture with me and my mini me!
We continued our conversation and I discovered twenty-year old Brooklyn, wise beyond her years, was an only child and a college student interested in pursing the health profession. Tracee (with two Es) was a proud Momma who beamed with pride when she described the dedicated care Brooklyn showed her father during his heart wrenching struggle.

After meeting Tracee and Brooklyn I completely changed my attitude about the trip. I no longer worried about everything going smoothly. Suddenly my daughter’s toddler meltdowns and the fact that we wouldn’t be able to do and see everything seemed insignificant. (our big dog sledding on a glacier experience was cancelled due to weather) Instead, my focus shifted to spending quality time together (with the added bonus of having the majestic views of Alaska as our backdrop). As Carly, our delightful cruise director stated, “Now is the time to disconnect with the outside world and reconnect with your family.” So that is exactly what I did and I will never forget the memory of seeing my brave little girl grin from ear to ear as she danced with Minnie Mouse or the quality time my dad and I spent sipping hot cocoa on our private verandah after the rest of our family went to bed. As we passed seals riding on ice bergs, viewed amazing waterfalls flowing down mountainsides and stood in awe gazing at the Mendenhall Glacier, we were creating magical memories. Delightful memories that I will no longer take for granted. 1572-12152152-Tracy Arm-26947_GPR.jpg

Although I saw Tracee and Brooklyn several times throughout our Alaskan adventure we never exchanged email addresses and I left the ship knowing I would never see them again. However, I will never forget them and will treasure the moment we shared and the lessons they taught me on that wonderous day. They reminded me to focus on the little miracles in life. As I further reflect on my encounter with Tracee and Brooklyn I realize the Holy Spririt was at work in me that day. God used me to speak to Tracee and Brooklyn and I was open to listening to Him. I am reminded that God is always with us and He can speak to us at anytime, even on a crowded cruise ship in the middle of the Pacific Ocean!

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