When do you start counting? My husband and I celebrate our 33rd Wedding Anniversary today. We were married September 12, 1981, but is that when you start counting your years, or should we include the time from when we met on May 9, 1980? I suppose you officially count from the wedding, but we still have the memories from the beginning.
In 33 years we have certainly experienced a lot — lots of fun, lots of ups, and of course some downs. Life is rather like a roller coaster, chugging along in those climbs to the top, then the thrilling ride as you top the hill, a fast speed race to the bottom, and then you whip around a curve and the next hill approaches.
When I met Ron he was only a couple weeks into his divorce, which was a nasty one. His ex-wife disappeared with their daughter (an infant) and we spent months locating her and then years trying to get visitation, including a full-blown custody trial. Over the years we have had periodic ventures in court with a son that seemed to find trouble and/or get into trouble on a regular basis and is currently serving time in prison for home invasion. Our daughter’s husband committed first degree child abuse against our son’s daughter, Kiley, when she was only 7 months old. Nate, our son-in-law at the time, went to prison and my daughter divorced him, but CPS became involved with both families and the rest is a horrendous story that is the subject of a book I am writing.
We have enjoyed many fun vacations over the years. My first trip to Niagara Falls was in the winter when it was under ice, and that was where we also honeymooned. Niagara Falls, Canada is one of my favorite cities and we used to travel there frequently for weekend trips. The summer before our marriage Ron and I did a road trip to Hershey, Pennsylvania and down the Blue Ridge Parkway, where Ron was climbing on rocks to take pictures and sprained his left ankle. His car was a stick, so I then did the majority of the driving, except when I couldn’t see coming down the mountain in the fog and he took over. He was driving faster than I could see, which made me nervous. That night I had repeated nightmares that we plunged off a mountain cliff, and each time the car started to fall I woke up, got up to use the bathroom and rammed my head into the wall mounted TV that stuck out just before the bathroom door. Ron was exhausted and slept like a log and the next morning he commented that I had never arisen to use the bathroom all night!
Over the years we took many family vacations, including a few trips to Florida where we once spent eight days at Disney and almost missed our flight home due to a thunderstorm on the final day that delayed out ability to exit the Magic Kingdom as quickly as we wanted. Nothing like having the stewardess come running down the hall at you to assist with your carry-on luggage and then the doors slamming at your back as soon as you step onto the plane. We also did trips to Universal Studios, Daytona, and a 2-night cruise to the Bahamas where we swam with dolphins.
With two kids who love amusement park rides we took numerous trips to Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio over the years. I’ll never forget Patrick’s first ride on the Blue Streak. He was just of qualifying height to ride and as we topped the first run of hills and were rounding the curve at the top in preparation for the next run I realized he had slid way down in seat. I quickly said “sit up” and as soon as Patrick pulled him self back up fully into the seat I stuck my hand down on the seat between his legs to act as a brace and we made the next run.
We attended the International Collectible Show near Chicago, Illinois for several years and did road trips that included stops at Indianapolis Speedway, St. Louis Arch, Hannibal, Missouri (home of Mark Twain), and visits to the Precious Moments Chapel in Carthage Missouri. We flew to Houston, Texas for a week long vacation one year enjoying many sights there. Another road trip took us to Hershey, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, New York, and Niagara Falls where we enjoyed a helicopter ride over the falls. Most vacations included a few “regular” things including an amusement park, playing putt-putt, visiting an historical home, and when available visiting a cave. We have done America’s only cave where they drive you all the way through by tram in Springfield Missouri, the only cave where they take you through by boat in Pennsylvania, and the Mark Twain Cave in Hannibal that was featured in the books Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. Mark Twain actually played in that cave as a child and the tour guide explained to us the procedure for making sure all the children were back out of the cave each night.
Ron and I also took a few trips without the kids over the years. We spent a week in Hawaii around 1990, we spent a week in San Francisco in 2005, and one year Ron drove to Florida to see his daughter, Patricia, from his first marriage graduate high school while I drove to New York to see our niece graduate from West Point. We have taken road trips up the east coast and west coast of Michigan to photograph light houses, and this summer spent a week in the upper peninsula of Michigan with the main focus being to photograph waterfalls.
I almost forgot to mention the “toys” of which we have had a few over the years, beginning with a Laser sail boat when we were first married. This is a small sail boat in which you literally hang off the side and your butt most likely gets wet dangling in the water. Ron’s thing, definitely not mine! When Caroline was about 2 years old we purchased a 19-foot Baja boat, a bow rider which I loved. I drove the boat and pulled Ron on skis. We spent a lot of time on that boat for several years, and then as the kids got older we took it out less and less and eventually sold it. We purchased a dirt bike for the kids to ride when Patrick was about 4 years old, Caroline 7. We then got a moped, and when that one got totaled we purchased another. We bought a set of jet skis and spent quite a bit of time using those. The kids were older then, and they would frequently drop a car off to me and pick up my truck so they could tow the jet skis to the dock and take them out. Then Ron and I got motorcycles, he got his in 2004, I got mine in 2005. I was the motorcycle lover, frequently riding 35 miles one-way to work, 50 miles one-way to college, and loved taking rides to relax in the evenings. On the weekends we would ride to activities/events we were attending, and also participated in poker runs. We spent a lot of time out riding until one day on the way home from an event a car ran the stop signs and broadsided me, bringing our days of riding to an end. I still miss the feel of the wind in my face and how relaxing it is to ride. Ron spent over a year taking care of the house and me as I went through recovery, and then we purchased our latest “toy,” a 35-foot motor home.
I have only lightly touched on the ups and downs we have encountered over the years. We have deaIt with our granddaughter being severely and permanently brain damaged while under the care of who was, at the time, our son-in-law. We have experienced the loss of a grandson born premature who died shortly after his birth. We have no contact with one of our granddaughters whose mother has not always been cooperative about allowing our son parenting time, and the loss of two granddaughters at the hands of CPS/DHS workers who withheld contact, lied to the court, a guardian ad litem who lied to the court, and a judge who rather than seek the truth and require them to substantiate their claims ruled against us. The youngest granddaughter, Kae-Lee, has already been adopted by her foster care parents even though we wanted to adopt and raise the two sisters together. The judge has refused to allow us the visits that the director of the Michigan Children’s Institute said he needed to finalize his decision on adoption of the older granddaughter, Kiley, who had suffered severe brain trauma, leaving her status in limbo.
So now here we are after 33 years of marriage. We have encountered numerous bumps, mountains and valleys and will likely continue to do so as time passes on. We are now empty nesters, both photographers, and enjoy travel when time permits. So whether we count it as 33 years from marriage or 34 years from meeting, it has been a lot of fun and good times. Here’s looking forward to another 33.