50 years of hot chocolate and French fries

A recent photo of my parents during my Grandmother's birthday party.


Today my parents celebrate their 50th anniversary.

That’s such a simple statement and yet in no way can it sum up a half century of commitment and love.

Last week, I talked to my Mom (Marianne) about this momentous occasion and her first comment was, “I don’t want to make a big deal about it and don’t be posting things on Facebook.”

This morning, via Facebook, Mom sent me a 50-year-old photo attached with the message, “I know you will probably put something sappy on FB so here’s a pic..lol.”

Russell Huffman
Russell Huffman

A mother can move in mysterious ways, so it’s easy to oblige her.

It’s a simple black and white photo (they were married before color was invented) taken in Holland, where my Dad (my father’s name is Jim) was serving in the US Army and met a hot Dutch chick with wooden shoes and all.

In the photo, Dad’s styling and profiling with his suit and bow tie. Mom – obviously, the most beautiful mother in the world – stands beside him as they hold hands. Mom is wearing gloves in the photo, but she had removed one – I guess to better hold onto to Dad’s hand.

And so the story began of holding onto each other.

And it was one tight grip, filled with commitment, as it wouldn’t be long before they would travel together to the USA when Dad decided to leave the Army and start partnering in a family ranch.

For Mom, it was absolute culture shock. With a child in tow (me), she went from flushing toilets and trips to the tulip market to being introduced to a two-seater wooden outhouse. At first, we stayed with my Aunt Ruby and Uncle Bob and they were about as rural as country folks could be in the 1960’s. Aunt Ruby cooked on a four-burner wood-burning stove and snapped off the heads of chickens with a flick of the wrist.

Later, my Dad went to work for an oil company and we moved to a place country folks would call “the sticks.” Mail was general delivery – meaning you went to the post office to get it. When my parents realized the local school system and the rural lifestyle wasn’t going to sustain and educate their boys (my brother Mack had arrived by then), Dad rejoined the Army.

Culture shock all over again as we went from our nearest neighbor being two miles away to a city of 50,000-plus.

It would take millions of words to describe the adventures of my parents, because according to my Mom “50 years is a long time.” Dad on the other hand likes to tease, “It’s not that long.”

I think both of them are right because 50 years is a long time, but we all know when we travel back into our own memories we have all exclaimed, “That was how long ago? It seems just like yesterday.”

So what’s the secret? Is it Rock-solid commitment? Is it love? Is it mutual respect? Is it prayer?

Marianne and Jim Huffman my parents were married in Holland in 1963 while Dad was serving in the US Army.
Marianne and Jim Huffman my parents were married in Holland in 1963 while Dad was serving in the US Army.

I think it’s all the above and probably some thoughtfulness, affection and mutual respect thrown in for good measure. It’s a good time to mention there have been some occasions when these two are mule-headed and fight like cats and dogs, but still have gone back to the aforementioned things like commitment and love.

As they have grown older both my parents have drifted into their various hobbies both old and new like gardening and fishing. Mom has become a fishing fanatic, and while Dad does join her sometimes, he often prefers a good book, the warmth of sunshine and her company creekside.

I witnessed such a scene just recently, my Mom with her fishing equipment all around her and the thermometer under 32 degrees (a fanatic for trout). Up pulls my Dad in his pickup and he had no intention of fishing. He had driven 10 miles with hot chocolate and French fries in hand because he knew his Lady Love would be cold.

So there you have it, the recipe for a 50-year marriage. The main ingredients are thoughtfulness, love commitment, mutual respect, loyalty, prayer and affection in no certain order. Then top it off with some almost-warm hot chocolate and soggy French fries.

Love you MOM and DAD!


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