FIFTY YEARS OF MARRIAGE AND WE STILL HOLD HANDS
Nedra and I will celebrate our fiftieth anniversary on March 28, 2009. We will actually have a family celebration some time this summer in Ocean Grove, New Jersey so that all five of our children and all twelve of our grandchildren can attend. I met Nedra at Indiana University. She was finishing her senior year as a biology major and I was finishing my PhD in genetics. I was looking for a three-cent stamp to mail a letter and it was 2AM. I learned there was a student working in the embryology laboratory and I knocked on the door. A somewhat frightened undergrad answered. I prepared a cup of tea for her and looked at the preparations she was making under her microscope. She and her parents had reason to worry. I was recently divorced and the father of a two year old child. I learned that Nedra’s family came from pioneers who arrived in Indiana in the 1830s after moving west from Ohio and earlier Pennsylvania. Her ancestors on both sides had fought in the Revolutionary War. I was a Brooklyn boy, my father an immigrant from Sweden and my mother a first generation American whose parents came from central Europe (now part of Ukraine).
We were married in Indiana after a year’s courtship where I was teaching in Kingston, Canada and Nedra was working for a biological supply house in Chicago. For fifty years we have admired each other’s talents. I was impressed when we first began dating that Nedra cooked me a birthday cake. I was impressed that she could make all our children’s clothing. As our family grew so did our activities. Nedra was active in voter registration in Los Angeles when I taught at UCLA. She began making toys and sold them for several years at Gallery North. She shifted to volunteering at the University Hospital and became a cytogenetic technician for ten years. Then she shifted to in vitro fertilization and worked at Mather Hospital helping to put together 3000 babies. She said she made a village. While working and raising a family she also kept up her passion for quilting, organizing and helping to make raffle quilts for the Unitarian Fellowship 1890s Annual Fair and for the Smithtown Stitchers. I have always admired how Nedra can look at fabric and see a gown, vest, pillow, baby quilt, or wall hanging. She is a world-class quilter, having one of her quilts exhibited at Quilt National, in Ohio. Both of us have similar personalities. We rarely get angry. We tolerate disappointment and never let it fester. We share things. Nedra is my confidant. Both of us get great pleasure helping others. We both grew up in the Depression and knew how to live during hard times. Both of us treasure knowledge more than riches and encourage each other in our projects.
Fifty years goes fast in a busy and loving household. Our children grew up in a household that celebrates creativity, learning, and caring. In our old age, we encourage each other through the pains of arthritis and the limits on our capacities to what we once managed with ease. We laugh as we unkink our stubborn limbs and backs that have lost their flexibility. We are both fortunate that our minds are still agile and eager to learn more and convert our knowledge into new activities. And we like to tell each other “I love you.”