As a tribute to Dr. Bill and Martha’s 50th wedding anniversary, the Sears kids share what they admire most about their parents’ marriage and relationship.
My parents are celebrating their fiftieth anniversary, and I’ve been around for forty-nine years of this great adventure called “The Sears Family.” As I’ve been reflecting on what to write here, my head is flooded with a multitude of memories, both good and not as good. What is impressing on me most are not individual moments from the past, but how those moments and memories have melded into the many ways that I’m grateful for my parents and the life choices they have made.
Experiences are more valuable than things. As a young kid, our family had one car, dad would walk to work and I wore hand-me-down clothes despite being the first-born. Yet, I always felt like one of the luckiest kids in the world. We took sailing trips instead of getting a bunch of Christmas presents or Camping trips instead of fancy cars… And even later in their lives, when you might expect to see something shiny, new and German in the driveway…you don’t. And almost every trip they take includes some or all of the family.
They enjoy each other. Many times a week, they have always made sure to have some quality time together. When I was a kid, it was usually a couple’s fondue dinner on the coffee table while sitting on the shag carpet in the living room. That tradition is still going strong… except dinner is now usually wild Alaskan Salmon and home-grown kale.
Did what it takes. Over fifty years, there were understandably more than a few hardships and crossroads that could have caused most couples to drift apart. I’m so proud that our parents made the changes, sacrifices and personal growth that were needed to overcome some pretty significant hurdles.
Something that I remember is that Dad always took the time to mention something good about Mom amidst the busy day-to-day life of a large family. For example, during hectic dinner times, he would often take the time to say things like, “Hey kids, doesn’t your Mom look lovely today?” Or, if they were dressed up to go out to on “date night” he would
always say, “You Kids have the most beautiful Mom in the world.” My Mom has a pet name for Dad that she would often call him — “El Guapo” which means “The Handsome” in Spanish. Little things like that is what they always seemed to have time for.
This picture, Taken just a couple days ago, to me is a beautiful representation of what true, committed, lifelong love can look like. They have been celebrating their 50th anniversary all year long and everywhere they go, my dad brags about how long he has been with his Love.
Hey if Disney can do it, why not?!? Being married to my mom for 50 years I believe is what my dad is most proud of in life. And watching my mom be so well loved and loving him in return, in her own way, is an inspiration to our family, friends, and community.
One thing (out of many) that I will always treasure from my childhood is the love for music they helped me develop. I remember Mom singing silly songs to me like “The Patience Song” or “The
Seatbelt Song.” They provided a safe, non-judgmental atmosphere for me to explore my sensitive side. I remember soaking up the music at our church’s music nights and the prayer meetings we would have at our home. Although I rebelled after a few years of piano lessons, they always saw the gift inside me and Mom even made me join choir in 7th grade. That push was what I needed to
get over my fear and give in to my love of music; I mean, how could we kids not love music after many nights of family karaoke with Dad rockin’ “76 Trombones” and “Thank Heaven For Little Girls,” and Mom ever so sweetly singing, “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair.” Their devotion to each other and to us kids is unconditional and a true gift.
The beautiful truth about Mom and Dad’s 50-year marriage is that it is built on very real love—not fairy tale, Hollywood-style love where everything is floating hearts and bunnies, but real, honest love. The kind of love that holds people together through and is strengthened by hard times and crises. It is a wonderful example for me to both aspire to and be encouraged by—going
through life’s trials together with my own spouse, relying on each other while staying focused on our faith in God, we too will forge a rock-solid marriage able to withstand anything life throws at us. Mom and Dad, thank you for showing me what it means to truly love.
A fond memory that some of us older Sears kids share, or should I called it a “fondu” memory, is mom and dad’s fondu dinners for two. These occurred almost once a week and there was only one rule . . . No Kids. Can you imagine Bill and Martha Sears routinely being involved in anything that had a “no kids” rule? That’s like saying “no breastfeeding here” or “no slings allowed.” No kids? Well, since the rest of the 6 and 3/4 days a week were nothin but kids, I think they deserved it. And they probably needed it too. I mean, us Sears children are all totally awesome now. But when we were kids . . . Wow. We were a handful. My mom needed an occasional rest, and my dad was smart enough to know it.
But do you think we actually left them alone for two long hours? Of course not. We could smell (not to mention hear) the sizzling meat in the fondu pot. And the curry mayonnaise sauce they dipped it in? Mmmmmm. Just thinking about it takes me back. So we’d crawl on our hands and knees around the couches and try to sneak up as close as we could before they saw us. Then we’d ask for just one bite.
No matter how busy life got with eight children, Mom and Dad Sears always found time to make each other a priority as well. That’s Attachment Parenting as it was meant to be.
My dad often tells me, “Lauren, you pick boys wisely.” There’s no doubt dating as a millennial has proven to be more complicated than the traditional generations before me. Today relationships are less committal and more self-serving. And although the “hook-up” culture has dominated the scene, my father’s adoration and devotion to my mother for 50 years has anchored my values and set my standards high. I will always be grateful to my dad for showing me, from a young age, how a woman should be loved and treated.
Growing up my parents always traveled together. It was a rarity for one of them to stay home; however, when I was sixteen my mom went on a trip for two weeks while my dad stayed home with me. The first morning he took me to school, unaware of what I would get myself into, I sluggishly slid myself into the front seat of his car. As he pulled out of the garage, I heard the very familiar voice of Irish folk singer Christy Moore play through the speakers, also known as the only music I heard for two weeks straight while we road tripped through Ireland three years prior. With Christy Moore on loop, my parents would sing to each other and deemed the song “Voyage” their song. I thought I had reached my quota of Christy Moore songs after that trip to Ireland, but as we drove off to school, I realized that wasn’t the case. Their song “Voyage” was the only song I ever heard during those morning drives to school, but as my dad would sing the catchy chorus, “Life is an ocean and love is a boat, in troubled water that keeps us afloat, when we started the voyage, there was just me and you, now gathered round us, we have our own crew”, I became less annoyed at the redundancy and more enamored by his sweet effort to fill the (temporary) absence of my mother even after all these years. This continues to be one of my favorite stories.