Twenty-five years is a long time to do anything, especially when that thing involves being married. Just look around. Statistically, not many of us are making it to that silver wedding anniversary.
Eric and Cristina did it. My brother and sister-in-law not only celebrated their first 25 years together this month, but they have made it look so easy.
Eric laughed about my "make it look so easy" comment.
"Take today, for example," he told those of us in attendance at their anniversary dinner. "When Cristina saw what I was wearing, a button-up shirt and jeans, she asked if I were going to change into slacks before our open house. I told her I was going to wear what I had on. She just looked at me, and I said, 'Oh, wait! That wasn't a question. Yes, I will be wearing slacks.' See? That's why it looks so easy."
Eric missed his calling as a stand-up comedian, and seems energized whenever he gets a chance to speak to a crowd. All eyes were on him, and we listened to every word as he talked to us after the dinner for the family.
"Cristina and her family planned every little detail for this party, and I showed up, just like our wedding 25 years ago. It's very easy that way."
"I have a surprise for Cristina, and she doesn't know anything about this. Come up here, mi amor." Cristina's eyes went wide, and a smile spread across her face, as Eric unwrapped a white shadowbox.
Inside the box, he explained were mementos to commemorate things he couldn't have done without Cristina: nine years in the National Guard and his degree from the University of Utah. There were pictures of their children, a large souvenir button from Disneyland, and pictures from beach vacations. And the bottom was filled with debris; broken tiles from a demolition site. He had some explaining to do.
Cristina had found the pile of terracotta shards months before their anniversary and told Eric he needed to throw them out. "No, I'm saving that for something I'm making," he told her.
Tonight she would understand why he had saved a bunch of broken tiles.
For their first date two and a half decades ago, Eric had invited Cristina out to dinner at Pizza Hut. Twenty-three years later, when he found out the Pizza Hut was going to be torn down, he stopped at the job site, and gathered up some of the broken bits of tile from the demolition site. A plan was forming in his mind, and he wanted to incorporate the historic debris from Pizza Hut into a gift for his wife.
To the back of the shadow box, he pinned photographs of their wedding day and their children, his Guard pin, a Ute emblem, and Disneyland mementos. And scattered in the bottom of the frame were fragments of the building where they first met. He came up with a slogan, and he said if it goes viral, he would appreciate the credit and any royalties for his original quote that he had etched into the glass: "ETERNITY: A first date that lasts forever."
There were not many dry eyes as he told Cristina he looked forward to the next twenty-five years. If anyone can do it, it is these two. They do everything with a good sense of humor, plenty of patience, and a whole lot of love. Anyone who is married knows it takes a lot of work and commitment to make things work, but these two really do make it look easy.