From Issue: Volume XXI - Number 2
By Jay Beeler
She slipped the ring on my finger last Saturday, we kissed and I am officially married again.
This time the woman placing the ring was my friend, Jan Krantz of J&L Jewelers, who had just arranged for my 44-year-old wedding ring to get resized so I could wear it.
When Anita and I were married on Dec. 28, 1968 in her hometown of Conshohocken, Penna. the ring was a size nine and fit. Every time I worked on electrical projects around our Long Beach home I was always cautious about its conductivity and would temporarily remove the ring.
Then the inevitable middle-age spread set in from all those delicious meals. Apple meat loaf and tacos were two of many favorites. Belt sizes went up. Jacket sizes went up. But the ring didn’t come with a Sans-a-Belt feature and ended up in her jewelry box about 30 years ago.
When we recently observed our 44th anniversary at the Fish Tale Restaurant I started to think about that matrimonial symbol. Then, a week later, Anita retired from her job at the Long Beach Police Department’s homicide bureau. That got me into serious reflection about our long journey through life together.
Over the years we have seen “for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish…” Overall, I think to myself, “It’s been a wonderful life.”
I realize that not all marriages are great and they fail. A large percentage of folks have had a tougher row to hoe and we see that in our travels. When you have been lucky in life and reap the rewards of hard work, there’s an ongoing desire to help those less fortunate as you age and mature.
I also realize that – despite the best efforts of their parents – some kids get involved with a bad element of society and end up being an embarrassment. We see examples of that every day in the news and sympathize with the parent’s burden.
We were blessed with three great children, Jeff, Janet and Mindy – all in their 30s. Jeff is in charge of the basketball program at Sage Hill High, a private school in Newport Beach, helps out with the Beachcomber and will soon have a master’s degree in coaching and athletic administration. Janet works for a large law firm in Philadelphia, plans on getting her master’s degree soon in fine art and has been involved with our newspaper as well.
Mindy also follows in her father’s footsteps by doing marketing for an architectural firm in Rancho Mirage. She and Bryan have been married for more than two years and have a new home in nearby Indio. Eleven months, one week and three days ago they blessed our family with a beautiful baby girl, Lyla Kate Nickerson.
Happiness is being grandparents.
I’m not sure what the secret is to a long marriage. I’ve tried to follow the advice of others about never going to bed mad at each other. I have tried to be a good father to our children with love and support – equally and unequivocally. Marriage and parenting are not easy tasks; both require hard work. My ongoing attitude has been “one day at a time, doing everything a little better tomorrow.”
In an era when you see many marriages ending in divorce it’s comforting to see my older siblings with the same spouses. Brother Tom and his wife, Nola, hosted us at a family get-together in Edmonds, Wash. the week of July 4th. Unfortunately the husbands of sisters Joyce in Chicopee, Mass. and Margaret in my hometown of Waynesboro, Penna. passed away in recent years.
So this ring situation is something that could not wait for the emblematic 50-year celebration because of my “he who hesitates is lost” and “lead, follow or get out of the way” attitude. I wanted it as a symbol to tell my wife how proud I am to be her husband, what a great job she has done in this partnership, honor her work as a devoted, caring and giving mother to our children, yet serve as a token of my enduring love.
I have not told anyone in our family about the ring’s resurrection and want to see how long it takes for Anita to notice. Her matching wedding band is still on the same finger where it was placed more than four decades ago.
Our marriage has not only been a wonderful life, she has been a wonderful wife. This band of silver and gold says it all.