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Marriage and a three-car garage

Jul 20, 2017 By Betty Starks Case

We survived the rare 75th wedding anniversary last weekend.

What must be explained for readers who may not have shared the experience, is the setting.

Daughter-in-law, otherwise known as Daughter, reasoned that such a celebration might be easier on this "olderly" couple if it were held in our own home.

Our house, while most comfortable, isn't that big. The garage? It's a three-car creation. But we've never owned three cars at the same time in our lives.

It happened like this: When we sold Pheasant Crest Farm out by Midvale, our California purchaser needed possession. We moved into a 30-foot trailer for the three months of new home construction in Riverton. But where could we store our furniture? Ned had an idea: Build the garage first. There'd be room for everything we owned in a three-car unit.

Nothing was said about the potential there for a man's retirement toys like a boat, snowmobiles, four-wheelers, etc.

I had a hunch, but the furniture storage was so practical at the moment, I let my suspicions fade. (All became much clearer when he taught me the adventure inherent in snowmobiles and RVs).

Fast-forward to anniversary day. Now Daughter's vision began to take form. She checked it all out, ordered about a dozen bedsheets, and convinced Son and Nephew they could string the sheets on wire all the way around the inside of that big garage, completely hiding all Ned's tools, storage cabinets, and lawn care equipment.

Voila! Here was a huge, clean room ready for a celebration that could accommodate about 40 relatives, friends and kindly neighbors. Our faithful Malibu sat out near the street like an orphan child, while the white pickup truck with foxy blue stripes on the side raced to Lander to rent tables and chairs to fit the scene.

Daughter, who loves to cook and is quite adept in that field, created wonderful foods. Son and Nephew surprised even themselves with all the talents they found. Other family members pitched in to help.

Sure enough, guests arrived with hugs and fun-filled hearts to help us celebrate. And celebrate we did. Flowers and loving cards arrived to decorate our home. And The Ranger editorial and feature story on our 75 years - what a fun surprise - drew wide attention.

There was one thing we intended to mention to our garage party guests, but forgot. Inside, high atop the motor of one of the big garage door openers sits a vintage robin nest. It was built a couple of years ago by a bird that had second thoughts and moved on. We left the nest there. After 75 years together, we can't part with anything reminiscent of an arbor, bower, hut or gazebo.

We decided if the nest, by some unseen chance, dropped a twig, feather, or ripe egg on a table below, we'd explain it as "just part of the ambiance."

You would have understood, wouldn't you?

Now, in the event you are about to ask how in the world we remained married so long, still relatively healthy and smiling in the Ranger photograph, I'll venture into that mysterious realm.

You see, when I was age16 and Ned 17, he gave me a beautiful gold locket. The next week I received a letter saying, "I'm not coming to see you anymore. In plain words, you sort of get in my blood."

Plain words? I'd never heard the expression. Whatever I'd done to his life fluid, he wasn't coming back. I thought my heart was broken forever, until my dad explained that I should date other boys while the young man matured and determined if his blood problem could be cured by my permanent presence in his life. Or not.

In a few years, we knew we couldn't live apart. We're both proud of our choice in a life mate. We like living together.

You might say, "The rest is history." But that's a world away from reality.

While this marriage is far from that simple in our view, it has always been a positive thing to both of us. We never let negatives rule.

You can keep a "thankfulness journal" as the wise television star Oprah Winfrey suggests. Or just decide in the beginning that positives will guide your marriage. Take the time to remind yourselves in whatever life problems may come your way. We did.

It is a well-known truth that positives lift and strengthen. Negatives take you down.

I'm blessed to have learned that from my wonderful mother. She didn't say it. She lived it.

Finally, we are grateful to Son for gifting us with a complete series of great photos of our 75th anniversary celebration. Ned and I say "Thank you, with love, to all our relatives and friends who in any way helped us celebrate a rare occasion."

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