When their 50th anniversary was coming up – in 2000 (easy math!) – my sisters and I were trying to plan a surprise party at my parents’ church in Charlotte, NC. The only trouble was that there was an occasional conflict with the date, which was a Sunday. It turns out that my father was ALSO planning a surprise anniversary party at the church, for my mother. Once we were apprised of that fact, we gave up trying to surprise them both and concentrated on her.
So my sister flew in from San Diego, and my parents-in-law, my wife and I drove down from upstate New York, staying at a local hotel. My father did most of the decorations of the room at the church. my father needed to rest more often than he did just months before, when he was primarily in charge of decorating the church for Carol’s and my wedding in May of 1999.
The family did meet before that Sunday morning; I suspect my mother figured something was up even before that. But we managed to keep her away from the decorated room.
During the service itself, much to my surprise, and definitely to my mother’s, there was a renewal of my parents’ wedding vows. (Whether my father knew, I was never able to ascertain.) I’m positive that when the pastor brought her up and ask her whether she’d marry him all over again, she did think about it for a few seconds before saying, “Yes.” Undoubtedly, what ran through her mind is a quote she attributed to my father, which I heard him say once or twice, but which she repeated regularly: “I may be a headache, but never a bore.”
After the church service, we had a lovely party, and we kids DID manage to surprise both of them with a video of some still photos, put together with music. Interestingly, we never got a family photo taken, as we had in 1995 and in 1990, maybe because the process was too fraught with drama – a tale for another time. In any case, that was my parents’ last anniversary together – until now, if you believe in an afterlife – because my father died on August 10 of that year from prostate cancer.
This is what their joint headstone reads:
Leslie Harold Green
Gertrude Elizabeth Green
Wind Beneath Our Wings