Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Once Upon a Time...25 Years Ago

25 years.

25 years of laughter, 25 years of challenges, 25 years of heartache...

25 years of love.

Yesterday was our 25th wedding anniversary.  It wasn't marked by a large celebration thrown by our grown children, nor an amazing second honeymoon trip to Hawaii or an Alaskan cruise.  Instead it was spent in typical daily pursuits, Dominick worked, I cleaned and picked up.  We drove to Grand Junction to spend time with friends passing through, celebrating their good news with them.  Then the kids, sans Joshie, asked if we could stop by Dairy Queen so they could treat us to an ice cream.  Standing there at the counter as they all 4 huddled off to the side pooling their wadded one dollar bills, I chuckled to myself as I realized we certainly didn't need an Alaskan cruise to top this moment.

When we arrived home, we were informed that this was only the beginning!  While we will manage to squeeze in an overnight stay somewhere nearby on Friday night, we are being treated to dinner made for us on Saturday with ingredients purchased by them, and a movie that they will get for us which is a grown up movie of our choice, because they said "we always watch kid movies and you never get to watch anything just for you."  I think dinner will be Sloppy Joes :-)  Can it get any better than that?  Only if they actually clean the kitchen afterward...hahaha!

A real life is made up not of the Big Moments, but of the simple things.

It was a simple gesture really, leading up to that night of our first date.

Disneyland Graduation Night 1982 - First Date
Dominick was graduating, and we had been casual friends for 2 years, having met when I was 13 and he was 15.  Using the 80's version of the internet...the CB radio...we did what many of our peers were doing then, we stayed up until all hours of the night, often hunkered down in our parents' cars or at base stations in our bedrooms and talked about inconsequential things.  We went on "T-Hunts" which was essentially hide and go seek with cars and CB radio signals as our guide.

He was a 15 year old mouthy teenager, puffed up with his own self-importance and driving a low rider Chevy Impala whose battery was so close to death he used to yell out to his friends "Quick, shut the car door, the dome light will kill the battery!"  I was a 13 year old kid, needing someplace to fit in where I could find friends who were interested in a bit more than the usual 13 year old angst.  Through the group of friends I met, which included Dominick, I found that place...most of them were really nice young people in their late teens or early twenties, and age somehow receded as our enjoyment of one another as unique individuals grew.  His handle was "Charlie Brown" and I was the "California Sunshine"...cheesy now, but important then.

2 years later, after occasional lunches together at high school, and an earlier request to be his girlfriend, Dominick was graduating.  The tradition at Southern California high schools was to spend graduation night at Disneyland, and the park was closed to all but graduating Seniors and their dates until sunrise the next morning.  Bus loads of kids packed the park, and Dominick was going to miss out on the fun because he didn't have a date.  Knowing this, I offered to go with him just as a friend, so that he could enjoy this last "hurrah" of his high school years.  Yes, our first date was really a "pity" date :-)

I never would have guessed that the next morning upon my return, I would turn to my mom and say "This is the guy I am going to marry someday."

From that night forward, we were never apart.  We just knew.  Corny story, but true.  Two kids, deeply in love with one another.

Two years later, at my own Grad Night, we were newly engaged.  We never suffered through the drama that most couples our ages did.  We were one of the lucky few who actually grew together over time rather than growing away from each other.  There was never a single doubt for either of us that we had found our life partner.

There still isn't.

Cindy's Grad Night - 1984
We had a wonderful wedding complete with fancy cake, long dress, tuxes and toasts.  Fresh faced, young and filled with enthusiasm for whatever life would throw at us.  Little did we know just how much life really would throw at us.  Death at a young age of a sibling and fathers, employment ups and downs, long distance moves, entrepreneurship and years of 15 hour work days...and that was merely the first 15 years.

June 28, 1986

The second 10 years were joyfully challenging, heartbreakingly wonderful.  A blizzard of paperwork, a whirlwind of travel, and arms gradually filled to overflowing with desperately desired children who are the very heart of our home and the manifestation of our love for one another, despite their lack of biological connection.  They are ours, and we are theirs.  Fully.  Completely.  Unreservedly.

We are family.

25 years of building a life together.  It hasn't always been pretty, in fact at times this love thing can be a very messy affair.  But it has always been solid, rock solid.  We are not a glamorous couple, we are not part of the "beautiful people" crowd.  We are a car wash guy and a homeschooling mom with a passel of kids.  We have an odd sense of humor that often is not understood, we can be tacky and graceless.  We are not perfect in any way.

Due to our own fault through the years, God has been distant at times and closer at others, but always present.  Somehow though, God has managed to use this union to touch the lives of others.

Dominick, you are the single love of my life.  You are the best husband a woman could ever ask for.  Your strength, your character, your warmth, your humor...twisted though it may be...still hold us together after all these years.  25 years later I look back and realize I never had a doubt that we would be here 25 years down the road, still holding hands, still laughing and goofing around, still crazy after all these years :-)

What will the next 25 years bring? What adventures will we share?  What sorrow will fill our hearts?  Come what may, it will be together, and that is all that matters.  Thank you for the life you have allowed us all to have through your back breaking labor.  Thank you for the stability you have provided for us, and most especially for children whose lives were anything but stable prior to joining us on life's journey.  Thank you for the way you have cared for my own family when at times that was very, very difficult.

I have a feeling that we will still be grinning and goofing on our 50th anniversary.  We don't know any other way to be!

And maybe, just maybe, if we play our cards right, we can get the kids to pop for another Dairy Queen Blizzard on our 50th :-)



Lenore said...

I LOVE all of your blog entries, but this one is at the top of the list!!!! WOW!! What a special and sweet story you've shared with us all!!! Thank you!! The pictures you've posted with this entry are fabulous and tell the story of many love-filled years! The LaJoy family is magical, and will continue to be with you and Dominick at the helm!!! Happy Anniversary you two!!!

anne k said...

I feel the positive vibes from this post all the way across the Atlantic.
Happy anniversary to you both !

Kimberly said...

Congratulations Cindy! I spent my grad night at Disneyland too :) what fun!

Karen said...

A day late and a Dairy Queen short...but even so, today I lift my voice in praise to the God who brought you together for a lifetime (and beyond). You two inspire me and give me hope. Congratulations on this milestone and a thousand thank yous for the blessing it is to see what real, true, committed love looks like!

Much love to you both!

Dee said...

I love this post, Cindy! My favorite one so far! Your children sure are sweetie pies, too. I look forward to seeing the 35th anniversary blog - you'll have kids in college then!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this post! A very sweet glimpse into your life. You are a very blessed woman. I hope my 25 yr anniversary is half as sweet someday!

Anonymous said...

Wishing you both many, many, many more years
together with love, laughter, and much joy together.

Peggy in Virginia

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, you two! Sounds like the perfect anniversary outing to me. Maybe because it sounds quite typical. In August, we will celebrate 30yrs of wedded bliss ourselves. OK, some days have been less than blissful, but those are the ones that prove our committment. When we started talking marriage, we both talked of wanting to adopt. Who knew that one day God would allow us to do that five times over? Or be parents of eight? Not me. We're humbled and blessed...though these last four have been teaching us much we never had to know with the first four! We never had to help with so much homework as we do now, among other things.

For the past 29years, we've nearly always "celebrated" our anniversay in a tent with kids. It was just the best time in the summer to take vacation from the farm. Now with school sports camps starting that week, our vacations are more like long weekends when we can fit them in. Oh well. We can't imagine ourselves doing anything else but raising kids, livestock, and crops. It's been "a great run". We're on the homestretch, as these last four will be leaving home in rapid succession...if all goes as planned in the academic department. We'll see, as the last two will still not have lieved with us as long as they were in Guatemala. Not in a hurry to send any of them off....though it is interesting to consider what that life might look like. Hubby just wants a nicer pick up, to fit his table saw in...we'll travel around to visit the kids and grandkids (only one so far)...and fix and build things for them!

And I can't choose a favorite post, as I always enjoy your reflections.

Nancy in the Midwest

Anonymous said...

Oh, and this year's anniversary looks to be spent helping our one married daughter and family move into their new house. Grandpa and the younger set can do the lifting...I'll watch my grandson, thank you. He's five months old and expressing more and more of his personality every day.

Nancy anticipating another anniversary with the kids

Anonymous said...

I'll bet the kids will spring for another blizzard in 25 years. If not, I will.

Congratulations, you two may have known from early on that you were meant to be together and stay together, but you have also worked and played your way at loving, caring, mutual goals, grieving, growing together.

You are a model for others. We may do it differently and attain other variations on love and marriage, but you hold out one ideal, and many of us can take bits and pieces that we love and adapt them to our lives.

Blessings on you, not just for today but for a lifetime, not just for you Dominic and Cindy but for you, Matthew, Angela, Olesya, Kenny, and Joshie.


Juniper said...

so lovely. thank you.