Sunday, December 9, 2007

30 Years Together

On December 10, 1977 Denny and I were married in St. Phillip Presbyterian Church in Houston. I have an invitation to the wedding that sits in a silver frame on my desk and although I rarely pick it up, much less study it, today I have done so. It reads....

Mr. and Mrs. Dean Vincent Thompson
request the honour of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter
Catherine Shirley
Mr. Dennis Patrick Maher
on Saturday, the tenth of December
Nineteen hundred and seventy-seven
at four o’clock
Saint Philip Presbyterian Church
Houston, Texas

Reception following
Six Shadowlawn Circle

Denny and I will celebrate today, a day early; we have dinner plans for tonight. Tomorrow, on the actual day, I can expect the roses which mark the day. The number and color combination of these roses is an unrepeated sequence, each unique and a tradition that has held firm for each of these 30 years. I carried red roses at my wedding; a choice which I thought was a beautiful contrast to my wedding dress and the forest green dresses of my two bridesmaids (MMH and MBJ) and the rich earth brown of the men's tuxedos.

Each year, Denny has honored our years together by marking the occasion with a red rose, one for each year together. When we arrived at 25 years a white rose became the symbol for a quarter century. After the prior year's enormous showing of 24 red roses, the single white rose was pause for deep consideration; we had made a long journey together. Since then it has been the white rose and red roses, each red counting for another year. This year I will enjoy a single white rose and 5 red roses; a luscious half dozen. If we are fortunate to make it to 49 years of marriage; there will be a single white rose and another 24 red roses. We haven't decided if 50 years merits a new color rose; I suspect not because red and white are our colors (and roses don't come naturally in brown or forest green). I would love to see two white roses standing tall; certainly by that time we will both have white hair ourselves.

Because I've inherited a bit of the mathematician from Dad, today I counted up all the roses I've received on the 30 anniversaries. As of this year, there have been 321; 315 red and 6 white. I don't have the courage to figure out what the statistics will be at year 50 but if we are privileged to make it that far, I will undoubtedly do the calculation.

But clearly, anniversaries are much more than roses or dinners out. They are more than the two gorgeous rings that came my way on our 13th and 25th anniversaries. They are more than the sweetness of one anniversary (maybe our 19th or 20th) when after dinner we opened a bottle of wine that we had saved since the early 1980's, wondering if it was really going to live up to the promise that good reds mature with age. We weren't disappointed.

Anniversaries to me are mini-celebrations that when strung together, year after year, and honored with a healthy dose of compassion and and forgiveness, form the glue that keeps us moving forward. I was asked by someone earlier this week what the "secret" was to 30 years. It didn't take me long to say "laughter". In order to laugh with one's partner, there must be shared compassion and forgiveness.

To Denny; I love you.


  1. I'm in tears. Much love and congratulations to you both.

  2. I hope your day and dinner together were everything you had hoped for. Congratulations!


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