What does it take to make a marriage work? I really have no clue. I’ve been in a few long-term relationships, but have never been married. Honestly, I’ve never been one to really think about marriage. Even as a child — unlike a lot of little girls — I never daydreamed about Prince Charming, flowing wedding gowns, and ceremonies.
That might be kind of strange with the family I come from. My parents, Karen and Norris, are celebrating 49 years of marriage on Jan. 25. And they’d say it’s been 49 years of relatively happy marriage. My mom and dad rarely argue, they still hold hands, and I think they actually enjoy each other’s company . . . most of the time.
They were both born and raised in Los Banos. They didn’t meet until my dad returned home from the Vietnam War and my mom was working in a little diner in town. She was 18 and engaged to her high school sweetheart at the time. My dad, 23 and newly discharged from the military, visited the diner often — not just for the burgers, but to see the waitress with the beautiful smile.
One day he noticed she wasn’t wearing her ring and he jumped on the opportunity to ask her on a date. Only a few months after that fateful day at the diner, they drove to Reno and were married in 1969. My brother came along two years later, and I followed a few years after that. Now, 49 years later, they’re retired and as happy as ever.
How have they put up with each other for so long? Maybe it’s because they laugh at each other’s jokes when others just stare blanky. Perhaps it’s because they treat each other with respect. I like to think of them as soulmates, but it probably has more to do with the fact that they’ve never seen their relationship as 50-50. It’s always been 100 percent from both sides.
Have there been difficult times? Absolutely. As a kid I didn’t realize it, but as an adult I now know they struggled financially when raising me and my brother. I imagine having a family takes a toll on the bank account, and they were no exception — they both worked to support the family.
And there have been medical issues through the years, including cancer battles and emergency surgeries. They’ve held each other up following the deaths of their parents, and the unexpected death of their only grandson.
But the ups and downs only seem to strengthen their bond. It’s a bond that, admittedly, I’d love to find. Though I’ve never had grand visions of what my wedding would look like or thought about where it would be held (I hear Reno has a good record), I still wonder if there’s a decent man out there for me somewhere.
Regardless, I’ll continue to celebrate my parents’ love for each other, and admire their ability to withstand the storms of life with just a few bumps and bruises.
Andrea “Andi” Joseph worked in newspapers for 18 years before transitioning to her current career as a content writer. She lives south of Gilroy with her two dogs, Bailey and Cricket.
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