Happy Anniversary to my parents, Howard and Maxine Morarie.
Today they would have celebrated 61 years of marriage to each other. Dad is in heaven now – we sure do miss him, but this day continues to be special and marks a lifetime of the years they spent together. Their marriage was one that spanned decades and countries and children and grandchildren and great-grand children and so much more!
Mom looked like this when they got married:
She was 18 years old (just turned 18 only 13 days before they got married!) Dad was 23 and both of them were in training with New Tribes Mission to be missionaries in South America. They eloped, got married by the Justice of the Peace in San Francisco, CA. Dad wore a borrowed maroon sports jacket and mom wore a borrowed kelly green suit. With little to their name, they had enough money to buy a can of beans and share it for dinner and bus fare to get to my uncle’s house, where they “honeymooned” and stayed until they had enough money for bus fare back to the “boot camp training center”. Though originally their destination wasn’t Bolivia, that is where they ended up and they spent nearly 40 years there! The adventures were many! Dad and Mom lived in a humble house, built by my Dad, deep in the scrub jungles of Bolivia in a little tribal village called Tobite (pronounced Toe-bee-tay). This is where 5 of us 6 kids lived our early lives. Years later they had moved to the city of Cochabamba where my baby sister, Tricia was born. Here’s a picture taken around 1968 when I was just a baby. What a great looking family! Left to right is Mom, Nancy, Mike – with Mark standing in front of him, Dad holding me, and Howie.
And here’s a picture after all my older siblings were living in the US and it was just Tricia and I at home with Mom and Dad. (FYI this is pretty close to what I looked like when Rob met me for the very first time….gotta love the early 80’s hair!)
There are so many adventures I’d love to tell, but the greatest one of all was their perseverance and love in marriage to each other. Their marriage wasn’t perfect, no marriage is, but they demonstrated so many things to me. Here’s a few of the things I learned from them:
- Never give up – wow. Just think of what it would have been like to be so young and living out in the middle of nowhere – before email, internet, air travel to this location….in a place where you didn’t speak the language of the people, were still learning the culture of the people, raising babies, learning to cook without a real stove or oven but with just a little rigged kerosene burner and a clay oven that took some time to get used to. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!
- Always have fun – I can remember them after many days of hard work and us kids being sent to bed that the smell of popcorn would waft into our rooms because mom and dad were playing scrabble. They were very competitive and it was always a fierce battle to the big win! There were picnics and horseback riding, hikes and more. And Dad was always coming up with some way to tease mom – like the time he just hung his hand through the hole of the school room he had built for mom to teach my older siblings, and he just left it dangling there until she screamed in fright at the hand coming through the wall.
- Speak well of each other, always. Wow. This has resonated with me so much. I seriously can’t remember ever hearing either one of them say harsh words about each other to anyone. They were proud of each other and they always held each other up. I’ve taken many of their examples into my marriage, this being one of my favorite.
- Time together is an adventure – no matter what! I remember nights of sitting watching them listen to record after record on our old record player. The Mocedades. The Christy Minstrels, Merle Haggard, Johnny Horton, and more…oh the memories of all the songs! North to Alaska, Wolverton Mountain, The Back of the Bus, Eres Tu, The Cat Came Back… And there were always the many nights of having visitor after visitor over for dinner. It seemed like whoever happened to be traveling through Cochabamba, if they met my Dad, they were invited over for dinner. My mom always made this work, somehow.
- Celebrate! I loved how we would celebrate Christmas and Thanksgiving with the other missionary families who lived nearby. And again, anyone around without a place to go was included. What a fun way to grow up, with a houseful of not strangers but people who were taken in to our home as friends. I wonder what has happened to the many who shared a meal with us growing up?
- Go ahead and fight. Yep. I did see my parents fight, but they never were out of control with each other – at least not in front of me. 🙂 I learned a good lesson from this, that marriage is not all bliss and happiness and that hard times come. But there was never a question that they would work things out. This taught me to do the same in my marriage.
- Always look your best. My mom has always been snazzy. She always took care to look her best, no matter where she was. And my Dad was the same. Always showered and clean – the memory of him padding back to our apartment in his bumblebee bathrobe my mom made him for Christmas just popped in to my head. Hilarious, but he LOVED it. I learned that it is a way to honor each other, to pay attention to how you look (not to become obsessed with it, for sure) but that it is a nice thing to do for your spouse. In the early days of my marriage with three little ones racing around the house there were days this was hard-but I always managed somehow to get cleaned up and fresh by the time Rob came home even if that meant showering at 4 in the afternoon. 🙂
- Oh man, there’s so much more, but this is probably way more than anyone really cares about. 🙂
So, this blog is dedicated to my folks – they lived a great life together. We follow in their footsteps the best we can, but with a great example laid out before us. They weren’t perfect, but they were two people who loved each other and were motivated to do the best they could with what they had. Mom often says that Dad would always say, “Well, Maxine, no matter what happens, we’ll always have each other.” That pretty much says it all. Mom and Dad, thanks for the way you lived your lives and thanks for choosing each other so many years ago. Much love and respect from me to you. And Dad, your bride is still as beautiful as she was when you married her. Wish you could be here on this earth with us to celebrate!