In this age of sports where baseball’s home run record is now seriously debatable, I’ve come to appreciate the efforts of Yankee Roger Maris’ 61 Home Runs in 1961. It was a then record total for a single season but the commissioner of baseball placed an asterisk next to the record because Maris reached the mark in 162 games while the former record holder Babe Ruth had hit 60 in a 154 game schedule. Today Maris’ record has been surpassed by men who clearly were on performance enhancing drugs leaving all of us to question the integrity of the record which I still maintain belongs to Maris.
Baseball aside, longevity is something we honor as a society, perhaps not often enough or perhaps because it is so rare. Nobody works for 30 years and a gold watch anymore. At WOR a man in the traffic department had worked for the station for I believe 47 years, longer than most employees had even been alive.
So I’m particularly honored to talk about a 61 that has no asterisk today. My parents were married in 1950,61 years ago. They are in their early 80s and have lived a challenging life together. My mom has been sick most of my life, going in and out of hospitals and my dad has been more than a faithful companion for her. He’s been a committed partner for better or for worse, in sickness and health, living those vows for more than 60 years now.
My parents never travelled very far (“Who would want to do all that?” My mother would say!) and they worked hard to get me to college, something they never were able to do (both didn’t graduate high school). As children of the depression (especially my mom) they learned to save money and stretch a dollar, living simply and still finding the random $5 to give to charity now and again. If you were a good cause you always got something.
I was a gift for their 20th anniversary a bit early in February of 1970. They didn’t need to have another child after having a daughter 16 years earlier and miscarrying two children after that. But I came along at the right time for them. A late in life surprise when they had hoped for so long.
So today their son is grateful for these two, who started a family from such humble beginnings and gave so much to so many. From Waterford, Ireland where my father was born and raised to my mother’s hometown of Yonkers where we’ll celebrate today with a simple lunch…
There will be much rejoicing and not a question about their love for one another. Not many people stay married anymore, dispensing with vows when things get hard. Sometimes that’s avoidable and sometimes things need to be dissolved for horrendous abuses of those same vows.
But for my parents, It’s 61 for them…and nobody would think about putting an asterisk next to this marriage.
Congratulations to the happily married couple..still.