Regular readers know I celebrate special days. A week ago today, June 5, 2019, the special day was for my mom, Carola’s, 88th birthday. Today features both my parents as they celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary.
One week after Carola’s 23rd birthday, she and my dad, Leonard, a not-yet-ordained minister, married in Rhode Island, a long way from a farm in Shawano County, WI. After a honeymoon in Washington, D.C., they traveled to Wisconsin and spent the summer at The Farm with my grandma, an aunt and uncle, and their three children. The city girl was visiting the country for the second time; in her absence Grandma Buelow had hired a contractor to install indoor plumbing – for Mom, a most welcome addition. They came from different backgrounds, but shared similar values: faith and family. Dad was one of ten children born and raised on that wonderful old place I used to call home. Mom was an only child from Rhode Island, a city girl. Their love and commitment have sustained them all these years.
After their Wisconsin summer, they set sail for Germany, and grad school for my dad. Now expecting me, they packed everything they needed to set up housekeeping in a foreign country for one year with a baby on the way. I cannot even imagine the magnitude of the plan. They went by ship with all their belongings in two steamer trunks, one of which is a treasured possession of mine. In a day without Internet, cell phones, or digital devices, they set off, leaving home and family behind. News of my birth was telegraphed to family in WI and Rhode Island. They laid a foundation that has held firm for 65 years, through the trials and tribulations common to human beings everywhere.
When their year in Germany came to a close, they flew to Paris for a few days. Mom says, precocious baby that I was, the time in Paris might have been when I developed my love of all things French. An interesting side note: I was the first baby to fly Lufthansa after it reverted to commercial flights following World War II; it even made the papers! And in those days all three of us traveled on one passport – my dad’s. They settled in Shawano, WI, where my dad was ordained and installed as a pastor at St. James Lutheran Church.
They had three more children, all boys, then Dad accepted an invitation (known as a Call) to serve in another church, and our family moved to Green Bay in 1965, where Mom and Dad remain to this day. Once the nest was empty, they built a custom home with a music room for Mom and a study for Dad. Faith and church are still central in their lives. They work together, Mom serving alongside Dad in the church they planted in 2013. They have a piece of woods on their property and an added four-seasons room, where they share their meals, morning devotions, host family gatherings, and enjoy great views of wildlife and changing seasons outside their windows.
They’re a team – when Mom teaches late, Dad prepares dinner, sets the table for two, and they eat together when she’s through. When Dad has a meeting, Mom prepares; together they clean up. It’s actually amusing to spend time there; after meals, I have learned to just get out of the way and not interrupt their routine and rhythm. Breakfast is a treat – Dad makes my egg, slices my grapefruit into sections, and I’m privileged to share their post-breakfast devotions and prayers. That’s how they begin every day. Several years ago, faced with extensive repairs on Mom’s vehicle, they spent a few days at a favorite getaway, and on their return, purchased a new Buick, having decided to become a one-car couple, and it’s working well. They are truly a team.
They travel frequently, taking a major road trip at least once a year, along with frequent trips to visit family in Kentucky, as well as whatever other opportunities present themselves. Mom schedules and books the trips, on which, Dad drives and Mom navigates. Several weeks ago, they drove to Fort Wayne, Indiana, for the 65th reunion of my dad’s seminary class. The day after my mom’s birthday, they went down to Milwaukee for a Brewers’ (baseball) game, something they do annually. They play together, sharing an enjoyment of miniature golf, board games, theater, and fine dining.
They shop together on their travels, often coming home with new suits for Dad, complete with great shirts and ties, ensembles for Mom, along with gifts for family that they discover along the way. My dad has a penchant for choosing absolutely beautiful cards, which Mom treasures; she says the cards, themselves, are gifts. They’re patient with one another and at 88 and nearly 94, they have spent considerably more than half their lives together. And on this date in 2019, they celebrate 65 years of married life. They, and we, are very blessed!!
Enjoy the photos – their wedding, 60th anniversary, and most recent, at Dad’s seminary reunion. Grace and peace, y’all!