Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - Oct. 5, 2007
"Don't you think we'll make it?"
While I was sitting in the airport in Washington, D.C. this past Sunday en route from a convention in Norfolk, Va. back home, I thought about the last time I was in our nation's capital. In fall 2004 and again in fall 2005, I joined Uncle Stan and Aunt Kay to visit the World War II Memorial and other national monuments. On the 2005 trip, I met Stan's war buddies from the Army Air Corps' 100th Air Squadron and heard their stories. I was honored when Stan gave me his World War II photo album a few years ago and only wish he had saved his letters home from the South Pacific.
"I didn't think anyone would be interested," he told me.
Little did he know!
It was Stan and Kay's efforts that pulled the Freeland clan together on the opposite coast this past summer. Although they had no children, both always showered love and attention on all of us nieces and nephews when we were growing up. Through the years, brother Dave, sister Gaila and I always looked forward eagerly to their summer visits from California. Sometimes Uncle Bob and Aunt Hazel would come at the same time. While Kay, Hazel and Mom spent time helping Grandma with gardening and cooking, Stan, Bob and Dad worked on some outdoor plumbing or farming project with Grandpa. But Stan and Kay always took time off from their adult pursuits to play croquet or softball or dolls or house with us kids.
When Gaila and I were little girls, Kay got down to our level to play with us. One time when I made mud pies, I gave one to Kay and she pretended to eat it.
"Oh, that's so delicious!" she exclaimed.
"Hmm," I thought. "I wonder if it really is." So I took a bite, too. Kay laughed, said she was just pretending and helped me clean the grit out of my mouth.
I always looked forward to their "exotic" Christmas gifts, which included dainty white dresses from Sweden and dolls from Scotland and other countries.
My family and I also made a few trips to California to visit them when we were growing up. Always, Stan and Kay would show us a good time, taking us to Knott's Berry Farm, Marineland, Disneyland, the Hollywood Bowl and Laguna Beach. Kay made lovely meals, almost always with Stan's help in the kitchen. At the reunion this past summer, they were still entertaining us and they were still making meals.
And now Stan and Kay lavish affection on our children, too. They have attended the weddings of most of their great nieces and nephews and will travel to another such wedding this fall. It has even extended to a third generation. Kay wasn't happy at last summer's reunion until she had purchased gifts for great-great niece Sydney and great-great nephew Chase.
Now in their 80s, Stan and Kay still travel and are active in their church. Stan also golfs at the course near their southern California home. And they still remember all of us on our birthdays, sending cards and calling to wish us well.
But this coming week is a chance for us to remember them. They are celebrating their anniversary - and it's not any run-of-the-mill anniversary either. It's number 60! When we were in California last summer, Art and I bought an anniversary cake then so we could all celebrate together. Stan, always quick with a retort, looked at the cake and said, "What's the matter? Don't you think we'll make it to October?"
Recently a friend told me that he and his wife will be celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary soon. He said he hoped when they get to their 50th that their anniversary picture in the paper shows that they're still happy together.
"So many of those people have such dour looks," he said. "It's almost like they're saying, 'I can't believe I'm still married to that person!'"
I laughed. Then I thought of Stan and Kay. They're definitely still happy together - and their love and support for all of us is a legacy that will live on for many, many years.