Daily Connector | Sixty-five and counting | Paul Swartzentruber

Jan and I were married on August 20, 1955, at 7:30 p.m., at the Orrville (Ohio) Mennonite Church on one of the hottest days of the summer. Even now, sixty-five years later, I can still feel my sweat-soaked body in my navy-blue wool suit standing in front of the congregation to listen to the minister’s sermon and to say our memorized vows to each other.

We celebrated the anniversary of that occasion last week by spending two nights at The Lodge at Geneva-On-The-Lake, on the shores of Lake Erie. We could not have asked for finer weather or a nicer location for hiking along the lake shore, basking in the sun by the pool, reading on our small patio, and just generally taking it easy, obeying all mask and social distancing rules as appropriate. We took our own wine and crackers for Happy Hour and then had lovely dinners on the lodge restaurant’s patio. Our room patio faced the west, so we could enjoy one of the most gorgeous sunsets over the lake that I can recall. As birders, we were somewhat disappointed in the almost total lack of song birds in the area, but there was no lack of Ring-billed and Herring Gulls, along with at least one unidentified hawk flying overhead. On one of our hikes we noticed a large white patch of something in the field we were approaching. As we neared, we could identify it as a flock of several hundred gulls, which suddenly decided to take to flight. Unfortunately, I wasn’t quick enough with my phone camera to capture it.

Jan and I met in college. We were still quite young and naive, at least by today’s standards, when we married. We had little concept of what we were getting ourselves into. Sixty-five years later, we are both still learning to know each other. As I was thinking about what I wanted to say in this little article, several words came to my mind to help define this marriage experience. I thought of the words Patience, Respect, Forgiveness, Understanding, and especially Adaptability. (The word Love should be understood without saying.) We have very different personalities, likes and dislikes, senses of humor, and other characteristics, which have required us to use all of the above. In addition, we have each changed in many ways as the years went by, requiring the other person to adapt to our changes. Fortunately, we like and enjoy each other enough to want to make those accommodations. Maybe in another ten years or so we will have it all figured out.