Thursday, June 18, 2015

REPRISE........MARRIAGE ADVICE.

As we are entering Wedding Season I thought I would reprise an old column that I submitted in this space five years ago. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been submitting these columns for five years and it’s even harder to believe that five years have gone by since our daughter Meghan’s wedding. I wrote the following article during the lead-up to that grand event. I think the advice is still applicable. See if you’ll agree.   
           
With a success rate of somewhere between 45-55%, (the experts are all pretty vague), it’s good to know that there is still some faith in the institution of marriage. My wife and I have been invited to a number of weddings this summer and our eldest daughter is also getting married this year so marriage has been a running theme around our house for a while now.
So I thought that it would be apropos for me, a veteran of the institution of marriage for close to…what is it now?…hmm…twenty-nine years as of the 5th of September, to offer up some advice to the couples taking the plunge this year. Of course, it will be the males that will be best served with this advice but you ladies might also learn a thing or two from this veteran’s experiences.
My first piece of advice…always remember the number of years that you have been married. Do not hesitate like I just did. They will remember. For a long time. Oh, and by the way, kudos for picking a year that ends in a zero. Good thinking. The addition is so much easier. We were married in 1981; try doing the math with that one!
Second piece of advice…now listen close now…this is very important. Listen. That’s the advice. Listen to them. I know, I know, sometimes they might sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher, “Wha, wha, wha” and all, but they’ll ask for a playback and you had better be prepared. And most of the time you can get away with 20-30% accuracy but you have to have some knowledge of the subject. A lot of the time you don’t even have to answer, just nod and stuff but above all…LISTEN!
Here’s another very important piece of advice. Just when they are at their most UN-huggable…give them a hug. Yes, I know, but it’s just like going back to school after the summer break; you’re not going to WANT to do it…but you HAVE to! I’m serious! You should even be doing it now. Just for the practice. I am sure you’ve probably had a few tense moments during the wedding planning and everything; when she’s all crying and incoherent about dresses and flowers and food and such. Go ahead. You can do it. You HAVE to do it.
Now, here’s the big, big one and it’s for both of you and it’s the toughest one to do. It’s even harder than hugging the unhuggable. You have to know when you are wrong, and trust me, you will be wrong, both of you, sometime. And you’ll have to be able to say “I’m SORRY” with meaning. Not the old school yard “I’m sorry” when, really, you’re not, and it’ll probably be the hardest thing for you to do, but it’s the game-saver. You may even have a little experience with this one already, but if you are going to be committed, (to each other not into an institution), you will have to be very good at this one to make the marriage last long enough for you to have difficulty doing the math when asked how long the two of you have been married.
“The ritual of marriage is not simply a social event; it is a crossing of threads in the fabric of fate. Many strands bring the couple and their families together and spin their lives into a fabric that is woven on their children.-“Portuguese-Jewish Wedding Ceremony.


JUNE 21ST...BIG DAY!

           This Sunday is the 21st of June. It’s a big day. First off, it’s Father’s Day, so hooray for that, and, consequently, it is also the first day of summer, so, double hooray, I guess.
            I have probably told you this before, but I’m going to tell you again, that the first day of summer was always my Dad and Mom’s favourite day of the year. Also, in another huge coincidence or divine intervention, depending on your particular views on that type of thing, both Dad and Mom passed on to the afterlife on the 21st of June. Yep, the exact same day of the year. Their favourite day of the year. Dad passed away in 1990 and Mom in 2013.  You know, those two were always in sync.
            Now, if you don’t believe in divinity or anything then the 21st of June is also the day for you for it just happens to be Atheist Solidarity Day! There you go. There’s a day for everyone, I guess.
            It’s also, Baby Boomer Recognition Day, Family Awareness Day, Go Skateboarding Day (?), Husband Caregiver Day (??), National Peaches and Cream Day, World Handshake Day and World Music Day. So if you’re not a Father, or your Dad is gone, there are enough other “Days” you can take part in, if you want to.
            I remember when it used to just be Father’s Day. Wasn’t that enough? Sure, it’d coincide with the summer solstice the odd time but the 3rd Sunday in June was always Father’s Day. When did we have to start crowding these important days with stuff like Go Skateboarding Day and Family Awareness Day? Shouldn’t you be aware of your family everyday…good, bad, absent or otherwise? Hmmm? Just saying.
            Anyway, I recall a good quote about fathers from Mark Twain. He said, “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” Ha! I love that quote. Ain’t it the truth? As I recall Dad and I butted heads more than a time or two. I stubbornly held on to the belief that the old man was pretty stubborn when it came to having an open mind and seeing things my way. Oddly enough, I experienced the same thing in reverse with my own son. The good old right of passage, eh?
            Recently, I was reacquainted with a 1970 song by Cat Stevens, then, he’s Yusuf Islam now, called “Father and Son”. In the song the son is telling his father that it’s time for him to move on to bigger and better things in his life while his father is telling his son to take his time… “think a lot, why, think of everything you’ve got, for you will still be here tomorrow, but you dreams may not.” The song examines the relationship from both sides of the argument. In fact, when recently discussing the lyrics to this forty-five year old song Cat/Yusuf said that he realized that he was speaking of his father’s, father’s, father’s, father’s, father’s, father speaking. I know what he means.
                To me, Fatherhood is a gift. Not everyone gets the chance. Some fathers are with you for a long time while others are gone in a moment. I was lucky enough to have thirty-four years with my Dad. I don’t recall all of them and I wouldn’t have minded having him around for a few more.
Life is fleeting and one piece of advice that he told me over and over back in his “ignorant years” was exactly that, “Life is short, son, make the most of it. You’ll have a hard time believing me now, but in a few years you will know exactly what I mean.” And, boy, do I ever.

“A father is a man who expects his son to be as good a man as he was meant to be.”-Frank A. Clark.

KIPLING AND KRECSYS

            I’ve got a couple of milestone anniversaries coming up in 2015. On July 1st of this year it will have been 45 years since Mom and Dad and their three youngest children, Gordon, Perry and our little sister Michelle, (Shelly), moved to Kipling from Marquis, SK, where we had been residing since 1965. That move to Kipling was in 1970 and, as it turns out, it would have a large impact on my life.
            July 2015 also marks the 30th year since my own little family moved back to Kipling after an eight year absence. I had kicked around Kipling for a few years after high school living with Mom and Dad and working in construction before heading to do the Alberta experience, or experiment, if you prefer, for a year or so. By 1979 I had returned to Saskatchewan, or more specifically, to Regina, sharing accommodations and a workplace with my good friend, Ron Balogh.
My wife Debbie is from Windthorst and in 1985 we decided we’d like to move “home” so we packed up our stuff, our first-born daughter, Meghan, and we took up residence in Kipling as I went to work for Larry Walker at his Quality Millwork and Building Supplies retail outlet.
            It would appear that having lived in six other communities over twenty-some years took the wandering out of me. Once we moved back to Kipling in 1985 we stayed. Between my birth and my thirty-seventh birthday I had lived at twenty-two, that’s 22, different residences during that time period. I was both really good at, as well as, sick and tired of packing and moving.      
            The move from Marquis to Kipling was a bit of an adjustment for us. Marquis had a population of less than 100 and Kipling was over 1000. Being awkward teenagers and having just recently settled into a different school in Moose Jaw, Gord, Shelly and I weren’t all that happy about the move. Moving to a bigger town was kind of exciting for us but going to another new school and finding new friends was getting a little old, too.
            During one of our early bike tours to get familiar with the town we noticed a sign in the back lane leaning up against the Co-op Grocery Store at 601 Main Street and it looked to us like the sign said “KRESGE’S”, a huge store chain, WOW, this place must be pretty big because it has a “KRESGE’S”, we said. We were close, but the sign actually said “KRECSY’S”. The Co-op had recently purchased the land and building from Gerry Krecsy whose family had run a general store business since 1909 and had built the “new” store building in 1949. Gerry recently had quite a milestone of his own, you see, on June 3rd he celebrated his 90th birthday. 90 years! WOW again.
            The Krecsy family, like the town of Kipling, would also impact large in my life over time. It turned out it wasn’t hard to make friends in Kipling after all. Max, Gerry’s son, and I became friends in 1970 and were business partners at one time and we remain best friends to this day. His older brother Ward and my brother Gord were best friends through high school and while their lives have taken each of them in different directions whenever they do get together the years fall back easily to their old high school days. I served on town council with Gerry in the late ‘90s and early 2000’s. When Gerry and his wife Maxine’s oldest son, Mark, married my sister Margo in 1976 it really cemented the family connection.
            Gerry and Maxine and my Mom and Dad, Lowell and Rose Hubbard, had a great relationship and they were great friends who had a lot of good times together. Gerry, as life would have it, is the only one of the four still celebrating birthdays.
            Gerry’s family put on a community tea for him this past weekend and they followed it up with a little shindig at Gerry’s house. He celebrated in style. A lot of stories were circulated about Gerry’s life and the Krecsy family history and their legacy in Kipling and area. Stories were told about the Krecsy family’s compassion for families suffering through hard times, their commitment to King and Country and about how Gerry’s father Louis had been a hard-working community builder and how he passed that down to his sons and grandsons with Louis, Gerry and Max all having served terms on town council. And, I must say, Kipling is all the better for it.
90 years and counting! Thanks for everything Gerry. Happy Birthday!