Friday, November 26, 2010

All Because Two People Fell in Love

My relationship with my aunt and uncle has always been a most unique and special one.  Since two brothers married two sisters, the "O'Brien Gang" has always been a tightly knit bunch, never short on love, laughter... or delicious food.  Sharing in every holiday and special event in my life from birth, Auntie (Annette) and Unc Unc (Neill) are more like a second pair of parents than a typical aunt and uncle. 

As they celebrate 40 glorious years of marriage, I'd like to take a moment to honor the special relationship they share as husband and wife.  To get the lowdown on their lasting love, I went straight to the source, or should I say, sources.  Here's what the lovebirds had to say about their beautiful past, present and future together. 

Annette clearly remembers Neill picking her up for their first date during junior year of high school.  Neill was wearing yellow slacks with a matching blue and yellow paisley tie.  Although I doubt Neill's fashion statement is what sealed their future together, Annette notes that the outfit "really stood out."  In fact, my mom and Annette say they'll never forget it! 

High school picture from Sadie Hawkins Dance

Some of Neill's favorite date nights with Annette were spent at his father's drugstore on Park Avenue.  Neill had his own key to the store, so he'd often take Annette there after hours.  He'd fix up a sundae or milkshake of Annette's choosing and they'd have the whole store to themselves.

Annette recalls Neill bringing her a flower, usually a rose, on almost every date.  Neill would admittedly "borrow" the roses from the garden of a nearby retirement community on his way to pick her up.  Annette thinks it would be rather fitting and even ironic if she and Neill end up living there together, in the very distant future of course.  That way, they'd have all the roses they could ever want or need!

Preparing to depart for the honeymoon on their wedding night

Of all the special dates and wonderful experiences they've shared, Annette and Neill's most cherished memories are of the births of their daughter and son, Saralyn and Brandon.  God richly blessed their lives again with two precious grandchildren, Sam and Sadie, who live just minutes away. So, Annette and Neill are living a grandparent's paradise!

Summer vacation in NC

The quality that Annette admires most in Neill is his generosity.  In fact, she says it's undoubtedly his best quality.  Neill puts family and friends above all else, and he always goes out of his way to make her feel special.  Not to mention, he is a very good cook! (Yum!  I second that one Auntie.)

When asked to describe Annette's best quality, Neill simply replied that Annette is a good person.  She always has a cheerful smile to share and never utters a negative or hurtful word about anyone.  Annette has a rare and special gift for always finding the good in people.

When asked to share the secret to a long lasting marriage of love, Annette quoted a favorite phrase, "live laugh love."  She believes  living translates to sharing the ups and the downs of life together and sharing laughter and love for each other, for God and for life.  All of these things, she says, bring you closer together.

Neill had a different take on "making it work" for so many years.  Neill said that once you marry the right person, each spouse must be willing to give more than 50%.  That way, 100% is no problem. Annette is always very supportive, Neill said.  Together, we make up a winning team in whatever we do.

The happy couple on their wedding day 40 years ago

American journalist and author, Mignon McLaughlin, writes that "a successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person."  After 40 years of marriage, I'd say these high school sweethearts have more than mastered that feat.  Through their relationship, Annette and Neill have brought unimaginable love and joy to my life and the lives of so many more.  So, Auntie and Unc Unc, here's to you!  May God continue to bless you with many, many more years of falling in love all over again with your best friend, your companion, your "sweetie baby."