My parents are ordinary people, except for this: In two days they’ll have been married 70 years. Wednesday will be their platinum jubilee.
Of course, the milestone speaks to their longevity as well as their relationship. Dad’s life expectancy at birth was 54 years, and Mom’s was 65. Dad is now 97 and Mom 90, and both are still healthy enough to live in their own home.
The percentage of couples who reach their 70th anniversary isn’t easy to find out, but the achievement is so rare that none of the guests at our party found a 70th-anniversary greeting card. The closest they came was a card with a choose-a-number wheel. The US Census Bureau tracks the longevity of marriages only up to the 50th year, an anniversary that about 6 percent of American couples mark.
Barbara and George H. W. Bush reached their platinum jubilee in January 2015, and Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip in November 2017. Closer to home, my Uncle George and Aunt Lois have been married 71 years. No other couples come to mind, but Wikipedia has a list of couples wedded 80-plus years, with an English couple married almost 91 years at the top.
In 2013 a reporter asked a source at the University of Nebraska’s Center for Public Affairs Research how many American couples reach their 70th anniversary. Consulting the American Community Survey Public Use Microdata Sample files, the source calculated that nearly 40,000 US couples, or three in 1,000, were married 70 or more years.
“Congratulating those hitting a 70th anniversary is worthy indeed,” he or she wrote on the center’s website. Five dozen people congratulated Mom and Dad at the party Saturday evening. When asked the secret to a long marriage, their reply was, “Live long enough.”
My two married siblings have a high bar to surpass. Since they were both almost 30 when they married, they, and their spouses, will have to live to almost 100.
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ANOTHER ANNIVERSARY: THE CHICAGO MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART’S
A friend and I went to see the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art’s 50th anniversary exhibition, We Are Here, last week before two-thirds of it closed last weekend. The three-part exhibit was drawn from the museum’s permanent collection, with the theme being the relationship between artist and viewer.
How the theme played out in the choice and the arrangement of the artwork was obscure to me, which is something I say about much of modern art. Sometimes I get it. Sometimes I think I get it but wonder so what? As I said to the museum security guard who asked whether we liked the exhibition, “Some of it.”
I told my friend that even if most of the exhibition didn’t do much for me, I am glad to become more aware of what’s considered art today.
I’m also glad the museum is here. A great city should be on the cutting edge even if all of its citizens (I’m thinking of myself) are not.