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Today would have been the 79th wedding anniversary of my maternal grandparents, Ruth Cole and Vernon Wertz. They were married on April 4, 1931 in Washington, D.C. with only one other couple present (“to stand up for them” as Grammy would say) in a church filled with Easter lilies in preparation for the next day’s Easter service.

Ruth and Vernon Wertz

Grammy told me this story on a few occasions: She and my granddad were both from Nebraska. He actually courted her sister for a brief time before moving to Washington, D.C. to take a position with the government (it was the Depression and jobs were scarce, so he went where there were some). He and Grammy began corresponding by mail. I suppose it was a form of “dating” as she eventually agreed to marry him. She took the train from Nebraska to D.C., traveling for several days before arriving at what would become her home for the rest of her life.

Granddad had found a church for them to be married in and talked a couple he hardly knew into being their witnesses. Grammy would always tell the next part of the story with tears of delight: she was thrilled to find the church beautifully decorated with lilies and other flowers for the coming Easter service, but she secretly felt as if it was decorated just for her wedding.

After the ceremony, they celebrated by going to see a movie with the couple who had just “stood up for them.”

They celebrated 51 years of marriage together before my grandfather died. Grammy lived another nine years, passing away in her sleep on the eve of what would have been their 60th anniversary. (I believe she had a date with Granddad to spend their 60th together.)

So, today, on their 79th anniversary, I celebrate them for all the ways they contributed to who I am: jewelry-maker, gardener, girl scout, bird-watcher, artist, poor cook, traveler, flea market scavenger, collector of far too much stuff, and lover of life.

Thank you, Ruth and Vernon, for being my grandparents. Happy Anniversary.

My grandparents and the clock that lived on their fireplace mantel (still ticking all these years later...)

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