The 50 Year Journey

Wow, I am still recovering from the weekend celebrations!  We kicked it off with a feast of great Mexican food made from scratch by my Aunt on Friday night (she cooked all day and not a single thing came from a can), to the anniversary party on Saturday night followed by the family reunion held on Sunday it was quite a weekend of catching up, remembering days and times gone by, and reminiscing about the journeys we were all on presently.

For the party, family and friends came in from all over the state as well as some special guests from the other side of the country – what a treat to have my Aunt and Uncle in for my parent’s celebration of 50 years of marriage, and along with them came all the familiar faces (reminding myself of the tune “I’ll be seeing you in all the old familiar places”) and it was quite the blast from the past in terms of memories.

Previous neighbors, school chums, friends from long ago, golfing buddies, traveling pals, some professional colleagues/friends, and a host of relatives from far and wide.

It all made me think about the host of journeys that are out there happening and the journeys happening at that very moment.  The several thousand mile journey made by my Aunt and Uncle to be present for the festivities, the journey that my daughter and her vocal jazz quartet and band made to be the entertainment and music for the evening, and the 50 year journey that my parents have been on in their marriage.

As I said in my own prepared comments for them that evening, it is hard for me to imagine being almost 50 years old, but being the oldest child in the family it goes hand in hand that I have been around for most of those years so I cannot really deny my age at this point.  I also talked about the lessons that I have learned over those years from my parents – lessons that are frequently mentioned in this blog.  From my mother I learned about punctuality, proper spelling, neatness, the importance of good grades (they were both school teachers), as well as the ability to be creative when I found it necessary to invent something to do.  From my father I learned a lot about working with my hands, measuring twice and cutting once (a recent blog post of mine), that anything worth doing is worth doing well, patience with children, and probably the strongest work ethic of anyone I have ever known.

The final point I made in my comments for them that night was their gift of time to me and my sister.  The time we spent on many a journey across the country exploring different things, the time spent at events, games, concerts and other things they chose to do with us.  With each event there was always a different story about the journey that was taken.  You never really know what will happen on many of the journeys of life – sometimes there is an unexpected surprise.

At the party, my daughter performed a number of jazz classics with some more current tunes blended in.  At one point, they were doing an old standard entitled Route 66 and opened it up for some band solos and vocal scat improvisation.  Being an old jazz trumpet player myself (fitting for today that it is Louis Armstrong’s birthday) I decided I would grab a microphone and do a little trumpet scatting (without the trumpet and just using my lips) and had some fun with the 8 bar blues pattern.  What a blast!  As I write this I think of the journey that I made roughly 30 years ago that my daughter is now on and I can only imagine the experiences in store for her.

This coming weekend I will travel to see a long-time friend at a retirement gathering in his honor.  Scores of us will travel to spend some time, have dinner and talk about the shared experiences that we had and remember about him.  We will honor his 40 year journey that was his career working for the university we attended and worked at.  I look forward to this journey as well – for I will see some of my own school chums and friends from days gone by, and together we will wish our friend all the best in the next journey he takes in his retirement.

The journeys are all around us.  Some are 50+ years, while others are just days.  The bottom line is that you can never be too sure what your journey will be.  We all try to have a destination in mind, but as they say – it is not the destination, but the journey that makes it worthwhile.

The quote I told my parents this past weekend was from Antoine de Saint-Exupery: Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking together in the same direction.  To me, this means that it must help to look in the same direction if you want to make a 50 year journey together – something they have succeeded at.  Enjoy the journey everyone!

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