Today marks the 56th wedding anniversary of Howard & Joan, my wonderful grandparents. They were married in Dumont, New Jersey in 1957.
They first met when they were kids. Joan was 13 and Howard was 16. They lived in the same small city and would cross paths to and from school and they soon got to know each other. Howard played basketball with Joan’s older brother. In the summers, Joan loved to swim and had a membership to the community pool. She was there every day and Howard would ride his bike over to the pool, but since he did not have a pass they would chat through the fence. They dated on and off for about seven years. Howard went to Penn State University to study architecture and a year before he got his degree, he proposed. Joan on the proposal: ‘He picked me up from my parent’s house and we were headed to New York City for a nice dinner. Before we got to the restaurant, he pulled off the road behind an ice cream parlor and proposed to me right there. I guess he was going to propose at dinner but he was so nervous he couldn’t wait.’ Right after his college graduation, they were married. Then they immediately moved to Los Angeles to start the next chapter of their lives together.
This next chapter involved a move to Virginia for six months while Howard served in the Army, their son David was born and they returned to the Golden State. Shortly after, Kristen (my mom) was born. Then in 1967, their youngest Vicki was born and that was also the year that Howard started his own architectural firm. At this firm, Joan eventually oversaw the accounting department and became the Office Manager. They worked in the same office for 30+ years and Joan says ‘it was the best thing we could’ve done. I enjoyed working for him. He’s a very easy going person, very respectful. I know living and working together wouldn’t work for most couples but it worked out very well for us.’
But like any couple, they’ve had their disagreements. ‘Marriage is a give and take,’ Howard says, ‘you can’t be one sided or too rigid. If you love each other enough, you’ll get through anything.’ Joan jokes that their successful relationship stems from Howard. ‘He’s crazy about me. I would have left me a long time ago.’ It sounds like a happy wife really does make for a happy life!
After raising three amazing children, who then gave them a total of seven awesome grandchildren- me being one of them – they shared this advice on parenting: ‘We just tried to instill in them strong moral values. We feel very lucky that our kids always chose the right path to go down. We never had a problem.’ My mom Kristen describes her parents as always having a mutual respect for each other and that they led by example on how to make a marriage strong and successful. She adds that they also ‘always made each individual kid and grandkid feel equally loved.’
The life that Howard and Joan have built together over the years is a magnificent example of what I personally believe everyone yearns to have: Soulmate found, check. Healthy family, check. Accomplished career, check. Happiness in marriage, check check. I could write a novel on my grandparents because I admire them in numerous ways and they have had a huge impact on my life. But I’ll end this post here, and simply say may we all be as lucky as them in love and in life. Happy Anniversary Grandma & Grandpa! Love you!