For some it was Woodstock. For us it was Lake Okoboji.
The year was 1969. During the summer, some 400,000 young people headed to a dairy farm southwest of Woodstock, N.Y.
There, from Aug. 15 to 18, they’d watch 32 acts perform an outdoor concert on a rainy weekend.
Sherry Hirl and I had other plans. Our wedding rehearsal was Aug. 15. We were married the next afternoon in Davenport. Then, after a reception at the church and another at her parents’ farm that night, we headed toward a cabin at Vacation Village on Lake Okoboji in northwest Iowa for a short honeymoon.
So while thousands of people recently celebrated Woodstock’s 40th anniversary, we quietly celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary.
We married at age 20, young by today’s standards. Sherry had a year of college left, and I had two years to go. For income, we each had a part-time job.
Some folks, including my parents, suggested we wait until we were out of school, and I’m sure Sherry would have been willing to wait had I asked. But I saw no need for that. I had decided she was the one for me. Besides, I figured if we waited she just might run across someone better to marry.
Admittedly, the first few years of our life together were difficult. There was lots of love but very little money. But we were determined to make it.
We had one lucky break. The rent for our apartment in a working class east Davenport neighborhood was only $70 a month, and the landlord said he’d knock $25 a month off of that if I would agree to mow the grass at the complex during the summer and shovel the walks there during the winter. Of course, I did.
As is the case with all relationships, and life in general, there have been lots of good times and a few bad times over our four decades together. We’ve shared laughs together during the good times, and we’ve leaned on each other for support during the bad times.
There have been scores of adventures, too, many of them unplanned.
I think I’ve noted before that Sherry bought a sign at a craft fair a few years ago. It hangs in our kitchen and reads, “We have been through a lot together, and most of it was your fault.”
It’s true. We have been through a lot together. But I’ll argue that I’m not to blame for every negative incident that has taken place. Perhaps many of them were, in fact, my fault. But that guy Murphy, for whom Murphy’s Law was named, had a hand in some of them.
On the plus side, Sherry and I produced four successful, grown children, two daughters-in-law, one son-in-law, six grandchildren and another on the way. We also have tons of great memories.
I’m sure Woodstock was a positive experience for most of those who attended, but so have been the last 40 years for us.
Copyright 2009 by Phil Roberts, Creative Enterprises.