It started when Thomas my eldest son arrived at the Airport after four and a half years in Europe. Walking into the terminal I told myself that I was good, I had been good during his departure, then cancelled trips due to Covid and then Cancer. But I felt it. “Are you okay Dad?”, not really, you? “no same for me too!” Then it was a booth breakfast with Thomas and his Mum and I. Twenty four hours ago working, looking after his family, now jammed in the booth, being grilled and given pocket money! It was a great start.
My next son Tim had a big birthday a couple of days later, then it was Dad’s 90th, a trip to Christchurch and a most special celebration – Mum and Dad’s 70th Wedding Anniversary.
Grandma had declined permission for Dad to marry when he was nineteen. You can’t blame her really. But on turning twenty, it was off to the Christchurch Registry Office a few days later in Manchester Street – midweek – and nuptials. Smiles all around and the happy couple settled in Christchurch where they still live. Mum’s still an Aucklander though “that easterly wind always gets you”, and as a family we had many happy holidays at Stanmore Bay, Whangaparaoa.
About 20 marriages a year make it to 70 years in New Zealand. No wonder you can’t find the pre-printed cards at Whitcoulls!
So what are Mum and Dad secrets: good genes, garden vegetables, sugar-infused bottled fruit, boysenberry ice cream, wholemeal bread, married young and keep a healthy bit of disagreement going on are my observations. When I interviewed Mum in advance of the big day she said having your own interests was really important. Fiercely independent was what it felt like as a child. Dad said Mum’s insights on money were really important, he said she was usually right in hindsight. Pocket money for Dad is what we saw.
We had 55 people join us to celebrate the big day All whanau. It felt rich and full.
Then it was my turn – move into my new house, a big birthday and a Whakawātea for friends, neighbours and those involved in the construction.
Going back to work I felt replete. A real turbo boost of those most special to me.
Think I need another break now!
-I really did interview Mum and Dad. Some family were present. It was the conversation you won’t ever wish you had. I’ve done a few interviews in my time. This was beyond special.
-Statistics available on marriage length indicate that in the US about .001 of marriages make 70 years. About 20,000 marriages take place annually in New Zealand.