Wednesday, June 2, 2004, concluded 50 years of marriage for my parents, Don and Emma Tillman.
We decided to celebrate in a big way at a ceremony where we invited friends and relatives and anyone who wanted to come.
So, at the close of our regular prayer meeting service on Wednesday, my husband turned the service over to my brother, who presided over the anniversary celebration. He spoke a bit about the home that we grew up in, read a few words of wisdom and then asked the audience to "bear with us" as we reminisce a bit. Jon had prepared a 7 minute video of pictures of my parents throughout their 50 years of marriage, finding pictures from each of the places where they had lived and made this incredible photo memorial in video format. As each picture came on the screen, he had written who it was and where it was taken and when.
Then, at the conclusion of the video, all 5 of us kids and the spouses who were present (9 total) sang two hymns. The theme of the event was "Faithfulness," so we sang, "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" and "Day By Day." My parents later told my sister that this was the highlight of the whole evening's activities. I have a picture of the singing posted below, but it's slightly out of focus. Of course, I had turned the camera over to a child to photograph the event, and it didn't turn out too well. You only see 8 people in the picture, because you cannot see my sister, Mary, at the piano, but she was singing, as well.
Then, after a few more words, we were dismissed to the back. Below I've shown some pictures of what went on in the back. Probably my highlight of the whole evening came around 9:15 p.m. when I heard my brother-in-law tell my dad, "Hey, see what you miss out on by going to bed at 7 each night? This is what goes on after church every Wednesday night, it's just that you go home and go straight to bed. Think of all the fun you've missed out on all these years." I about lost it. Myron can say stuff like that with a straight face and make you think he's dead serious. (My Dad is notorious for going to bed at 6 or 7 and at least by 8 p.m. each night.)
Here are my parents, cutting the cake.
The cake was delicious. I picked this out back at the beginning of May, so there wasn't a lot of work involved here at the last minute. It was truly a delight...chocolate cake, custard filling and whipped topping frosting. It required extra care, but it was a delight to the taste buds.
We did a wall of family portraits. Mom had them up in her house, but I started sneaking them out of her family room back in April, so we could re-frame them all to match. We didn't get them all done, but we did manage to get 7 re-framed. We ran out of wall space and figured that people really didn't want to look at us when we were growing up anyway. We later learned that I didn't do a very good job of sneaking them out, as she said she saw me walking out with them in the large tote bag that I was using. Guess I'd never make a decent thief!
The food was simple. We had sandwiches (not pictured) of various sorts, along with eclairs, nuts of all kinds, brownies, apple pie and fruit bowls.
We did a tribute to my parents, with a picture of my Mom hanging above it. I found this picture in one of the frames, covered up with an older family photo. My dad grew up on a ranch in Montana and my mom loves Victorian things, so we used the cowboy boots and these themes on the scrapook table.
We used the color green with gold as the decoration theme and borrowed my sister-in-law's wedding dress and a lot of greenery from various places and homes to decorate the room.
One of the main attractions was a huge watermelon fruit bowl. The couple who did this put a teddy bear couple off to the left, with the male teddy bear standing behind a pulpit preaching, to indicate my Dad, who pastored for a number of years, and the girl teddy bear was sitting behind a piano playing it, to represent my mother and her piano playing.
Here's the empty arch decorated with green veiling and lights and greenery. You can see the fresh rose petals that we had for them to walk on as they came in.
A picture of my parents' wedding 50 years ago went perfectly in the middle of this bulletin board.
We had a sign-in table, and guest book, complete with a gold pen.
The food tables were laden with decorations and goodies. If you look carefully to the right of the table in the back, you can see a bush/tree that is serving as our card tree. We had clothes pins that were pinned to the branches, holding cards. Even though you ask for no gifts or cards, people still insist on bringing them, so we had a spot for them, and it turned out nicely!
My parents sitting on the bench, posing for their official 50th anniversary photo.
Singing always has been a part of our family's favorite past-times.
Here are my parents coming through the arch at the end of the service, as we go to stand around and gab and eat.
My mother in law (front), along with the lady who orchestrated the decorations and the event at the church (Sarah Hooks), in the rear, are looking at one of the scrapbooks that my siblings put together.
My twin sister made a scrapbook of letters from friends over the years as well as locals who have known my parents. My sister, Mary, (from Atlanta), made her scrapbook consisting strictly of family history and memories of each of the 5 kids' families. It's amazing how much of parents' lives tend to get entwined in the lives of their children, isn't it? Both scrapbooks took hours and hours and were gorgeous.
We finished up Becky's scrapbook just before the event with pictures of people from various stores/businesses that know Mom and Dad. Printing pictures, running hither and yonder to snap photos..you should have seen us... No, on second thought, I'm glad you weren't here..life was hectic enough.
Thursday we finished up Mary's scrapbook, as she had left 5 pages for photos of the event itself. Since I was designated as the official photographer, I was snapping pictures of everyone doing anything that would slow down long enough to let me snap it. Thursday morning was a bit nutty, as we were all giving advice, talking, chatting and otherwise getting in Mary's way, as she tried to finish up the album. I think I can find a picture of that... I'll stick that in here now...
Mary is working hard on the album, finishing it up as she had to leave to head back to Georgia right after our lunch get-together.
My Mom loves Victorian things, so we had a Victorian Doll hanging from the ceiling swinging in a swing. Isn't she delightful?
Here's the 5 of us kids together sitting behind my parents. From the left are my brother, Jon, Becky, Mary, me and my brother, David.
Here's the two of us together.
My sister, Becky, cutting the cake.
Our family at the event.
My sister, Mary, and her husband, Myron, and their 2 children from Atlanta, GA.
Thursday morning we all met at our house and then after the scrapbook was finished went to Golden Corral for lunch. Even that was eventful as the GC we had scheduled to go to had closed over the weekend with absolutely no warning. So, we ended up piling back in the cars and heading 7 miles down the road to the other one, where we were given a private room. All 18 of enjoyed a delicious dinner that was completely off our diets. Then most everyone came back to our house, where we said our "Good By's" to my sister and her husband their two little children. They had to head back to Georgia.
Suffice it to say that we were all pretty wiped out, except, of course, for the kids, who acted as though nothing had happened. After pulling apart some coupons, I actually got to lie down a bit and rest,... at least for about 20 minutes, til the phone rang.....
Now, I've got tons of 50th wedding anniversary decorations all neatly stored. If you know of someone who needs to use them, let me know and I'll gladly loan them out to them.... It'd be nice to know that we could share these things, as I doubt I'll need them again in my lifetime!
For our gift, as kids, we put together a video of each of our family's involvement either singing, or quoting Scripture, or doing something to indicate our heritage. Then, we also all wrote letters of thanks and memories that went in the scrapbooks.
All in all, it was an exceedingly busy time and we're tired, but it was a great time and one that I think everyone enjoyed.
We tried to incorporate as many of the ideas you sent us as we could, without going crazy...
...and to think that this whole thing started in March, when I sat down with Mary and she said, ... "now, what are we going to do for Mom and Dad's anniversary?" and I was so tired that I simply said, "I'm out of energy, time and ideas" and so she said, "O.k., let's just take them out to Golden Corral for lunch"... and that's how it all began..
Thanks for your input, your encouragement and your ideas. It was a great help.