My dear, sweet, loving and devoted parents Frank and Helen Maguire, will celebrate their 61st wedding anniversary this month. I’m continually amazed by all that they overcame! Somehow, not only do they still LOVE one another, but they LIKE one another as well! How is this possible?
My parents met in the year 1956 during the period in time where the United States was in the midst of a religious revival which created a very wholesome environment to grow up in. Both of my parents were raised to be devout Catholics and were taught to place God above all else. They had high hopes when they married in 1957, and although they knew it wasn’t going to be “easy,” they never expected these innocent times to be so short-lived, ending only a few years after they were wed. To make matters worse, they were living in California – – smack dab in the middle of a cultural revolution. Scary times were on their way!
My parents had their first child in 1958, another in 1960 and then in 1961 when my mother was seven months pregnant with me, my father was in a horrific accident while returning home from work one night. The car my father was a passenger in was struck by a drunk driver and he was ejected from the car head first through the windshield. Despite having his skull fractured and his face and head severely lacerated, my father remained conscious. When the police arrived on scene, my father’s first and ONLY concern was for my mother (and for me, their unborn third child). Dad endured an eight-hour surgery, along with multiple blood transfusions; and was unable to work for many months. Mom, being seven months pregnant could not work and the bills from the accident piled up. Needless to say, this completely devastated their world. They lost virtually everything! At the young age of 23, my parents were facing an uphill battle.
This would usually be enough stress to break up this little family, but it did not. Although there were sporadic moments of joy, sadly, things continued to be terribly difficult for them. They moved from California to Massachusetts, hoping to get away from the cultural horror show that was in full swing in California, but this move caused them to become deeper in debt. They moved several more times, and the debt continued to pile up.
By now there were six children in the household. In order to make ends meet, my father made the difficult decision to use his God-given talents and became a nightclub piano player. This put a strain on both of my parents. Not only was dad surrounded night after night with people who did not share his Christian values, mom was now forced to be alone each and every night with six kids! How did this marriage survive? I remember as a teenager wondering WHY they stayed together. It seemed to me like they rarely saw one another, and when they did, I felt as though neither of them were very “happy.”
I know now that they sacrificed their “happy” in order to provide a stable home for us, but sadly back then we kids simply did not recognize or appreciate the constant struggles mom and dad faced on a daily basis to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table. And do you know what? I have never heard my parents be disloyal when speaking about the other. They were united – – ALWAYS!
Despite my parents’ warnings, we kids went on to make some not so good choices, but they continued to love us unconditionally. They never gave up on us and their prayers for us were unending. Our failed marriages produced MANY grandchildren, and as if my parents hadn’t done enough for us, they now were “forced” to take on the additional financial and emotional burden of helping us to raise OUR children. But not once did my parents complain. Quite the contrary, actually, they devoted their lives to ensure that our children felt safe, liked, and loved. Because of their constant love and guidance, as well as their ability to lead by example, our children and our children’s children hold them in the highest esteem.
Mom ultimately taught herself how to become a computer programmer and eventually became Vice President of a major corporation. She was highly sought after by many companies throughout the country. Dad graduated from Grand Canyon College (University) with honors in 1982. Because of their hard work and commitment to save money, they were able to retire at a fairly young age. They continue to live frugally because when they lost everything after my father’s accident, they realized that material things were simply not important in the grand scheme of things. Family was ALL that mattered.
You would think that life would be easier for my folks now that they are retired, but sadly, it is not. Medical issues have now become their nemesis. Dad survived a myocardial infarction (the widow-making heart-attack) resulting in quadruple bypass surgery and congestive heart failure. Mom survived a stroke and presently suffers from Type II diabetes. For the past few years Dad has been plagued by what seems to be an unending list of various other ailments, including skin cancer and gout. During each of these serious and life threatening conditions, Mom and Dad’s devotion to one another and to God never wavered.
After 62 years of life together, they are STILL best friends and they enjoy doing the same things that they enjoyed when they first met. They spend their days listening to music, watching classic movies, taking long drives to nowhere, and now copy-editing the NWC. Dad rubs mom’s feet when her diabetic neuropathy is bothering her, and Mom cheerfully applies the bandages and chemo ointment to dad’s skin cancer. THIS IS LOVE!
When I asked Mom and Dad how they survived 62 years of some very difficult and unhappy years, Mom replied with tears in her eyes that she and dad made a vow to God and to one another the day they were married, and breaking that vow was NEVER an option. Dad followed by saying that when they spoke the words:“I take thee . . . to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, til death us do part” they actually meant them. Based on the story of their 62 year years together, there can be no doubt that unlike many people, they honored each and every word!
I could not be more proud to call Frank and Helen Maguire my parents! I finally understand how and why my parents CHOSE to stay together through all of the trials and tribulations that they endured. I am comforted in knowing that when my parents do pass from this world to the next and are in the Kingdom of Heaven, they will be rewarded for their dedication to one another and to God with eternal happiness in the presence of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.