My family was doubly blessed in 2021 with two golden wedding anniversary celebrations.
My parents, Bunching and Edna Llana, celebrated theirs on March 6. Being the eldest child, I witnessed how their relationship and our family grew.
My parents, when they married, were both entry-level employees with barely any savings set aside. They could hardly afford to raise a child when they had me two years into the marriage. As far back as I can remember, money was always tight. Even at a young age I was acutely aware of how Mom carefully allocated our meager budget.
I remember being 7 years old, and wanting to buy a pack of candies frequently advertised on TV. Every time Mom and I went grocery shopping, I would run to the candy aisle, look for that precious pack of candy, carefully caress it and then begrudgingly put it back on the shelf because I knew we could not afford it.
Even then, my parents made sure there was always food on the table—not necessarily expensive food, but always good food. They also both made sure I got a good education. I was enrolled in a Catholic school even when tuition money was not assured and difficult to source.
Mom was a university ath teacher, selling all sorts of food items on the side, and Dad was constantly working, even driving a 10-wheeler at one point.
Despite all the financial challenges they faced, I remember them still being very tender and loving toward one another. They took care of each other. They joked and teased and laughed with and at each other a lot.
Of course, there were huge fights, which I remember vividly as well, but these were always resolved.
Eventually, because of sheer tenacity, hard work, a little bit of luck and a whole lot of prayers, things slowly started turning for us. By this time our family had grown to five and by God’s grace, all debts were paid off. We could afford to eat out once in a while, and fill our grocery cart with unnecessary snacks without having to do mental math to figure out if the cash in Mom’s bag was enough.
My parents soldiered on and pulled through. Dad and Mom knew they had three kids to raise, and giving up was never an option.
I often ask myself how they lasted this long together. Something that always stuck with me was how, every time one of them would come home alone, the first question asked was, “Where is the other one?” They always needed to be with each other.
Listen and be present
On Dec. 18, another golden anniversary was celebrated by our family. This time it was my parents-in-law, Jun and Lita Salvador.
Papa was a young lawyer, and Mama a nurse when they tied the knot. My husband Ricky was a honeymoon baby.
Like most couples, they started with very little, as well. I may not have witnessed their marriage early on, but since I have known my husband for close to three decades, I have been with them enough to learn how they are with each other.
They make their marriage work because God is always at the center of it. Mama and Papa value family most of all. They are both extremely thoughtful and caring to each other as well as to other people.
What I admire most about them is their ability to be patient and to forgive. They are not the type to hold grudges. They take time to listen, are always present and make an effort to be involved in the lives of their children and grandchildren.
This is to celebrate and honor my two sets of parents whom I admire greatly and love dearly.
We live in a world where things can change at the touch of a button. When everything seems to be fleeting—relationships, ideologies, perspectives—I am grateful that my children get to witness such a lasting love between their two sets of grandparents. There are values that can only be learned by observation and experience. For my kids to grow up nurtured and surrounded by such love and stability is a huge blessing.
No walk in the park
How does one stay in love with the same person for half a century? For someone who has been married 20 years, I know it isn’t always a walk in the park. It’s something you need to constantly and consciously work on.
You look beyond flaws and annoying little habits. Even during the most difficult of times, you choose love, forgiveness and patience every time, for the rest of your life. If I may borrow from Pope Francis, the three key words for a successful marriage indeed are: please, thanks and sorry.
The year 2021 was not much easier on any of us than the year before it. Even now, in 2022, the pandemic is still raging and continues to be a concern. Life continues to be a challenge, but there is so much to celebrate and be thankful for. —CONTRIBUTED