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This past month my parents celebrated 50 years of marriage.

To celebrate, my parents, 5 siblings and I gathered in West Virginia to see my youngest bother Mark, who lives there with his adorable family.

We stayed in this charming rental house. Man, is it lovely there.

We spent hours and hours visiting and laughing…

Reminiscing about our shared childhood…

…and talking over current struggles.

We swapped parenting stories…

…and sang the blues regarding our aging bodies and the need to consistently pack…

1. Eye drops for our ever dry eyes and…

2. Sturdy medical insurance for all the typical ailments that arise in people we aren’t in their 20s any more. Or their 30s and almost 40s!

Most of all, we gathered to honor these two. Our parents.

It got me thinking about what it takes to make 50 years of a marriage work.

How a love like theirs can spread to 6 children and their spouses…

…to 25 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren.

I wonder if, on this day as they promised to love each other for forever…they understood what that meant. I’m not sure they did, as I’d imagine most of us aren’t able to when we are young and have stars in our eyes for each other.

There’s hasn’t been a path free from struggle or grief.

There’s isn’t a love story of always seeing things eye to eye, or of raising perfect children or being free from all kinds of worry.

Regardless of circumstance, what I have seen them practice over these 50 years…

…is love.

Unconditional.

For each other and for all of us.

They ask for and give forgiveness quickly and sincerely.

They give the benefit of the doubt.

They trudge on through struggle, facing challenges with humor, gratitude and grit.

They show up on days meant for celebrating (“red letter days” as Mom likes to call them). They are available when the world seems to be falling apart, to comfort to encourage. They are there for all of the ordinary days in between.

Relationships are at the top of their list.

They look for the good in us, and try to draw it out any way that they can. They give cards for birthday’s that are full from the top to bottom with the good qualities they see in us.

They have a large capacity to accept what is. They see around flaws and magnify the good. I heard someone say once, “Those who save marriages pull out the weeds and water the flowers.

It’s what they have done.

They hold on tight to each other, even and especially when the road gets rough and scary.

I suppose that’s what Eternal Love is, the very mirror image of how God loves us.

He holds onto us when the road gets rough and scary.

…on days meant for celebration…and on all the days in-between.

Well done, Mom and Dad. Your efforts and example have shaped our lives more than we could ever express enough gratitude for.

About Jamie

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16 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing a special moment in your life. Enjoyed seeing the pics. Beautiful area. God bless Jamie and family.

    1. Iā€™m a puddle, Jamie? What a beautiful, accurate tribute to your parents. Love the Willahan clan more than words can say.

    2. Iā€™m a puddle, Jamie? What a beautiful, accurate tribute to your parents. Love the Willahan clan more than words can say.

  2. Loved reading about your parents journey…bringing back of my parents50th and a party for them!!! Now my husband and I will celebrate 63 this year..like your parents it begins with the Lord first in your life! Then its lots of love, patience, forgiving etc. and always remembering that we can work through life’s journey together and one day at time!! God Bless all and be grateful we live in USA!!

  3. Great post with beautiful pictures. Yesterday, May 1st, my parents celebrated 70 years! Both still live in the home I grew up in. Both in fairly good health.

  4. What a beautifully written post! I love every single part of this and thank you for sharing such a treasure of your family.

  5. Your mother’s picture in her youth looks exactly like you do! What a beautiful family you have. Congratulations!

    1. Hello Jamie,
      I was on pinterest looking up and planning a mother daughter activity and saw one that you had planned and then I clicked on you and got to see this lovely post about your parents who I just love and adore. Your parents and family were the sweetest people to my husband and I 26 years ago when my husband joined the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. We are forever grateful for their kindness and love and I am so happy to see this wonderful post about y’all celebrating them! Cheers to love forever and ever and a wonderful legacy of love. Please pass along my congratulations and my appreciation for them.

  6. Dearest Jamie. I was looking up recipes again on your blog and see this wonderful tribute to your beautiful parents. Every word is so true. They are such an exemplary couple. What a blessing to know them. It looks like you had a great time together as a family in such a pretty setting. We were so happy they were able to spend some time with us in New York on their way to West Virginia. So fun! I told your mother their visit was “the icing on the cake” from our time spent at the historic sites. I loved seeing all the pictures….so good of you all. What a great family. I’m (we’re) so grateful for our friendship with Bill and Pam Hunter Willahan for the past (many) years. We love them dearly!

  7. Wow! Jamie, this is so beautiful. They have been true examples of what love should be. Very strong, loyal, honest, loving and kind. Thank you for your tribute to them.