Appropriately, diamonds are the recommended gift to celebrate being married to the same person for 60 years. That kind of enormous milestone deserves a really expensive and durable gemstone. Joe and I, approaching our measly 9th year of marriage are advised to give each other pottery or willow, according to tradition. One a highly breakable houseware and the other a dried stick? Though if we go with the modern recommendation there's leather. Modern, and possibly kinky. I think I'll try and hold out for 60 years.
I have trouble wrapping my brain around that 60 years measurement, honestly. It is so rare. But there are those few charmed, determined couples that make it happen. And I have the pleasure and honor of being a member of a family with just such a charming couple at the helm. Mr. and Mrs. Augustus Underhill, Joe's maternal grandparents, have been married for sixty years. Well, really sixty years plus a few days now, since I'm writing this a week or more after their huge celebratory weekend of parties and jam packed family events. Gus and Janice, Mr. and Mrs. Underhill, are storybook grandparents. Except they are real.
Janice is a funny, sharp lady who raised four wonderful daughters, taught school, keeps twelve grandchildren and six great grandchildren in line, and makes a mean tuna salad sandwich. She is blunt and generous and when looking at this picture:
said in her slightly scolding, slightly Boston accent, "Oh, Kassie does that to Joe in pictures all the time!"Glancing at me with that look, you know the one, bemused with a hint of judgement. Basically a grandmother look.
Gus is quiet. Janice would not be described that way but Gus, having spent decades living in a house full of women, doesn't waste his words. He is reserved. So when he drops a stellar piece of advice on you, maybe about saving money, or marrying well or keeping your car filled with gas, it has big impact. He knows this. He is witty, he is warm, and he has given each of his grandchildren a set of collectible coins every year for the last thirty four Christmases.
So when the Underhills' approached their 60th year of marriage, the four Underhill daughters stepped up and starting nearly a year ago, began planning a weekend packed with get togethers, dinners, parties and brunches.
Relatives came from Boston, Cape Cod, Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin, Chicago and Kansas City to celebrate the beauty and joy of that Underhill marriage. A marriage that created a vast and delightful network of old family friends, aunts, uncles, cousins, great aunts and uncles, second cousins and nieces and nephews to come together, eat, drink and toast those 60 excellent years.
We all had a great time. Joe and I came up from Kansas City on Thursday night so we could be around for a majority of the parties. We like parties. We got to hang out with all of Joe's cousins who range in age from Joe- oldest at 35 down to Kelsey and LaRissa at 16.
We got to hang out with Lily and Liam, two excellent ten year olds, Liam who owns the coolest wallet in the world, he showed it off a lot that weekend, he was very proud, and Miss Lily who kindly brought our dog Mac a rawhide bone, all the way from Cape Cod.
Janice's sister June came in from Boston, the lovely woman who lent us her Florida condo for our vacation, we got to thank her profusely in person and then listen as her Boston accent rubbed off on Janice, so much so that by the time we headed home on Sunday, Janice sounded like she still lived in Boston.
I could go on and on about what a great time we all had. The main event on Saturday night was a huge success. The party was held at the perfect outdoor location, and the same place Joe and I got married almost nine years ago, Mrs. Billingsley's backyard pool and party deck. Mrs. Billingsley is a long time family friend and has a lovely house and yard, made for entertaining.
With beautiful tables, accessories, excellent food all made by the family, including dark salty caramels from yours truly, the Underhill daughters and clan know how to throw a good party.
Right down to a Janice requested, surprise live performance of In the Mood, provided by the three musically gifted grandsons. The weekend and the party were filled with kids and food and catching up, memories and photos, a few alcoholic beverages and a little mass facebooking by the gang of cousins even though we were all sitting face to face, and just a lot of good old fashioned family fun.
I can't think of any couple who deserves all this feting more than Janice and Gus. We all love you both. Thank you for inspiring us with such a strong example of what a long lasting, happy marriage can really look like. We need all the good examples we can get.
Joe, who of course took 99% of the photos, told me to tell the family, "I'll have photos up on Walgreens tonight."