May 10, 2012

Posted by in Articles & Essays, Family Life | 0 Comments

It All Started With a Dance…


Love is like an earthquake: unpredictable, a little scary, but when the hard part is over you realize how lucky your are.

Today marks what would have been my parents 54th Wedding Anniversary. Four years ago, my folks renewed their vows at the 4:00pm Saturday  Mass on their actual anniversary, May 10, 2008. For years, my parents were regulars at the 4:00pm Mass; it was wonderful to share their special renewal with the church community of Sacred Heart Church. What my dad did not know was that we arranged to have family and friends meet us at the church.

The officiating priest had asked me to write up something about the history of their lives together; in the end, he made me read it during the Mass. This was so very difficult for me because at the time my dad was terminally ill. As I read my piece, I could see the emotion and love on the faces of my dad and mom. I ended up editing out many of the things I had written because it was just too emotional. In honor of my folks, I am sharing the full text of that essay.

For Patricia and Gene, laughter, love and patience are the glue to a successful marriage.

Throughout the past 50 years, many things have changed. The bar where they met back in April of 1956 went out of business. St. Pancratius, where the couple was married on May, 10, 1958, was torn down and later rebuilt. The Old Prague, where their wedding reception was held, was destroyed in a fire. The Wagon Wheel Resort, where they honeymooned, was closed down years ago. Even though all of these places are no longer around, Patricia and Gene have continued to celebrate good times and bad times, together building a beautiful marriage and family.


It all started with a dance…

In our family, it is well known that Patricia and Gene have a life filled with music and dancing. Whether it is dancing at a formal event or teaching their children how to do the Jitterbug and Waltz in the living room, the couple has been long admired for the way they move together across the dance floor. Records have often been piled on the old record player – Elvis Presley, Bill Haley, Johnny Mathis, Dean Martin and so many others. Gene would grab Patricia and off they would be dancing across the rug. Their dancing is a good metaphor for their marriage – it does take “two to Tango.” Even though all of their steps may not be perfectly executed, where one may falter, the other picks up the misstep, moving them forward in unison.

And along come the children…

Patricia and Gene have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. Thankfully, they were also blessed with a good deal of patience and lots of humor! Through the years, the couple was actively involved in scouting and with Sacred Heart church.

Favorite memories in our family include the many family vacations, weekly Sunday breakfasts or dinners and hosting big family Christmas parties.

Many vacations were spent traveling the country, camping and sightseeing. Gene would get the old Volkswagen Van ready for the trip – adding in that left-foot gas peddle (so he could drive longer amounts of time) and turning that middle two-person seat sideways before loading the camping gear, luggage, six kids, Grandma and the dog into the vehicle. Patricia would make sure all of the food was stashed, along with all of the kid’s clothes. Up on top of the VW went the old blue canoe and off the family would go to so many places – New Mexico, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Canada, Washington D.C., the Virginia’s, Missouri and so many other places.

Every weekend, the family would attend Mass. The big treat was always going out to breakfast together. Patricia and Gene were good sports taking the six kids out to eat! Sunday dinners were eaten at the dining room table, using the china and fine glassware. On certain holidays, like Mother’s Day, Gene would take everyone to the Millionaires Club, near Ford City. The kids loved going there and Patricia would get a break from making Sunday dinner! 

Every year, Patricia and Gene would host a Christmas Day party. The grandparents and many extended family and friends were always invited. Weeks before, Patricia would enlist the aid of the kids to get the house ready. When the house decorations went up, Gene was the one untangling the Italian lights. On Christmas Day, family and friends would arrive with food to share, gifts to exchange and hugs all around. 

The children marry and along come the grandkids…

As their children married and began their own families, Patricia and Gene moved smoothly into the role of grandparents. They are known by the grandkids as “the fun grandparents.” Their home is always open for grandkids who decide to stop by and mooch a grilled cheese sandwich and a hug. Some of the grandkids compare going to their house as “Christmas everyday” because the welcome is always sincere. 

A marriage so blessed…

In a time when divorce is so common, it is encouraging to see a couple like Patricia and Gene celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. Certainly the years have not all been easy, but throughout them, the couple has chosen to continue their “dance,” to pick up where the other falters and keep on going. Congratulations and may God continue to bless them. 

Sadly, my father passed away on September 3, 2008. While he is not of this earth any longer, we all feel his presence through the laughter of one another and our children.


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