Despite our ongoing ménage à trois with Doña Quixote, aka my dementia, Peter and Gerda celebrate our 46th wedding anniversary
On Sunday March 26th, the Salt Lake City Saunderses celebrated 2 birthdays and a wedding anniversary. Sunday was the actual day of Marissa’s birthday: my baby girl turned 40! Today, March 28th, is her husband Adam’s 43rd birthday. In between–that is, yesterday, came my and Peter’s anniversary.
Marissa with Gerda’s mother, Ouma Susan, and little Twiggy. Adam in his first pose as “The Thinker.”
It is thanks to the addition of Adam to our family that we finally celebrated our wedding anniversary. Philosophically, we believe that a celebration related to one’s marriage should not be relegated to a single day per year—instead, we strive to remember our fortune of being married to each other every single day. While I do not claim that we actually achieve a daily celebration, we celebrate each other often enough that we have never felt the necessity of pulling out all stops on the actual calendar day. Practically, we hardly ever even remembered our wedding anniversary after Marissa was born and while she was still living in our household—the efforts we had put into her birthday, especially in South Africa where birthdays are occasions for the getting-together of the whole extended family, used to exhaust us so much that the thought of another celebration (with the chore of finding a babysitter included) never even entered our minds.
Some of the people who would show up if we celebrated a Saunders birthday in South Africa. Gerda’s siblings, spouses, and some of their offspring. Christmas, 2004. Gerda’s mother, Susan, is the white-haired woman in the back row. She has since died. Though not invited, the Doña shows up too these days.
Nowadays, though, with our anniversary sandwiched between Marissa’s and Adam’s, it gets quite a bit of reflected shine, given that we now declare all three events as the focus of one big party. Since our whole nuclear (though much expanded) family was here, Peter and I gave everyone a Doña Quixote update by telling them about two of her tricks the day before: 1, When we came out of Costco the day before, the Doña was pushing the laden cart. Upon seeing the cart park right at the start of the parking lot, she dutifully stowed our cart between the railings. Only problem—we hadn’t yet reached our car or unloaded the cart. 2, We went to Seven-Eleven to get gas. Two pumps in a row were open. Peter drove through the first one (in the shade) to the second one( in the sun). He asked if I’d rather be in the shade and I said yes. He started pulling back. No, I said, why don’t you just move right up to the building because those spots have shade. Only problem—there are no pumps right by the building. Everyone laughed at me, but I took it as them laughing at Doña Quixote. I asked them to always keep laughing at her, because in that way they are acknowledging that there was a part of me that was still not altogether the same as her. Or, I said, they could cry. Just please don’t sit serious-faced and pretend nothing happened. That would really be a death blow.
Between the leg-of-lamb dinner and dessert, we played outside and took family photos.
As for me and my family, we believe in evolution… Aliya (6) and Dante(4) on the ropes, Newton(37) is the spotter. From left to right: Adam, Dante, Newton up the tree, Kanye, Cheryl, Aliya. Kanye on the horse swing that Peter and I made out of a non-steel radial tire—a project that nearly cost us our marriage…
Marissa, Dante, and Adam. Cheryl, Aliya, Kanye, and Newton. Cheryl made the red velvet birthday cake!
Yesterday, on the day of our anniversary, Kanye sent us an e-mail with congratulations. Here is Peter’s response:
Thank you for the note. We have been married for 46 years today! We have enjoyed being together for so long and were lucky to have a great son called Newton who married a lovely woman called Cheryl who then had two perfect children named Kanye and Aliya.
One day you will fall in love with a lovely girl and also have a wonderful time with her for many, many years.
And here is mine.
“Thanks for thinking of us and for your lovely note, Kanye. I agree with Oupa that we are very lucky to have had a happy marriage for so long. I think a happy marriage is the result of both luck and hard work: we are lucky because we turned out to have the same priorities at important points in our lives, like we both wanted to have babies and we both wanted to work hard to get them the best education we could; also, we both wanted each other to be happy, so sometimes we had to work out differences we had—sometimes Oupa gave up something he wanted and sometimes I gave up something I wanted, because our biggest priority was to keep on being together.”
Me and you and you and me
No matter how they toss the dice, it had to be
The only one for me is you, and you for me
So happy together
Turtles – Happy Together Lyrics | MetroLyrics
David L Brown
March 28, 2017 @ 8:00 pm
Happy Birthdays and Happy Anniversary to our treasured neighborhood friends who have become more like family. May the renewal of springtime give us joy and laughter with those we love, this is what I see in these lovely photos.
March 29, 2017 @ 4:22 pm
Thanks so much, David. It is so lovely of you to send birthday and anniversary wishes. We, of course, think of you as family too. It just seems that, as we all get busier, the trip across the road to your house has become more distant! Just know that we think of you daily as we see you and Lynda and the kids move about your daily responsibilities–and when one of them knocks on the door with hot pancakes or another treat. I wish you a love spring–and whole year!– of deeply shared activities with those you love most. Warmest greetings from our house to yours.
March 28, 2017 @ 8:45 pm
Ohhh, I’m so glad you had marvelous celebrations although we missed you at ours. 46 years married happily!!!! That is such a rare and precious accomplishment. As is your family. As is your STARRED KIRKUS REVIEW!@#%%$#$Q#$ I’m so happy for your many wonders xoxoxo
March 28, 2017 @ 9:02 pm
Dearest Shen, thanks so much for your lovely wishes. We did have a good time. I’ll blame my failure to set up a lunch date with you this week to these distractions! i called tonight to both your phones, but was unable to leave a message. Please let me know if we can still have lunch or coffee this week, though tomorrow is not possible for me. Thanks for your unflagging support of my book and happiness for my good review. Love you so much and think of you all the time. Maybe we can take Everett to lunch again sometime soon? xoxoxox
Marietta van Rooyen
March 28, 2017 @ 8:54 pm
Dear Gerda and Peter
Happy, happy anniversary! So great to get to know your nuclear family beter.
I will be 70 on Saturday. Having sleepless nights about the party.
We have many good friends here. Riaan will be coming from England and Marieke and family will come from Cape Town.
Always enjoy you blogs.
March 29, 2017 @ 5:08 pm
Thanks for your lovely anniversary wishes. The numbers associated these days with my or my kids’ and Peter’s birthdays astonishe me–Peter is turning 70 next year.
In the meantime I can only say that you don’t look or act 70 from everything I learn about you on facebook. You appear to be a the center of a vibrant family and circle of friends–probably all ready to wish you happy birthday in person at your party! I want to say don’t worry about the party, but I do too when I have a big celebration coming up. I hope you have lots and lots of help, if, indeed, you are in charge of making the party happen. I recently started playing the “dementia card” in our family when it comes to big gatherings–at the moment i can still manage to make one dish, and they bring all the rest. They gladly do it, because seeing me stressed out and confused is not a good alternative! Well, since I believe my situation is very different from your still fully firing rational capacities, I just want to wish you a wonderful celebration with your children coming from north and south! I do hope you’re going to post an illustrated report on facebook–so looking forward to seeing you and your beloved family and friends. xoxox
March 29, 2017 @ 10:15 pm
Another wonderful story as only you can tell us. Loved lunch last week and look forward to another, I am reminded about our “anniversary” trip to Vernal, such great memories with Anne, Reg and our girls. They were so little, 6th grade, and did so well. Happy Anniversary and Happy Birthdays to all who celebrate.