Memorable Advice from a 70 Year Marriage.
That’s right, a 70 Year Marriage. This beautiful couple is Ed and Pat Ward of Redondo Beach, CA. He’s 93 and she’s 91 and they are sharp as can be and often on the go, as Ed continues to drive.
They own a condominium and live completely on their own, with no professional assistance. I am proud to say these lovely people are my neighbors.
They met in 1933 in the Bronx, N.Y. when Babe Ruth was still hitting homeruns, Franklin Delano Roosevelt had just become President and 25 cents bought a nice dinner.
At the time Ed lived with his family in a five story walk-up tenement building and across the street, Pat lived with her family in a similar building.
One day, Ed looked out the window and saw Pat. “I said, ‘My God, that girl is for me,’ raising his voice all these years later as if he had just seen her again for the first time.
“She wore a green gingham dress and she had bright red hair. She was absolutely beautiful.” He then added with a smile, “She got even more beautiful as she grew older.”
Ed was shy and nothing happened until one day he went to the roof of his building and motioned to Pat to come to the sidewalk below.
Pat did and as she stood on the sidewalk and gazed up, she saw Ed slowly lower something to her. She said, “On a note attached to a clothespin on a string, he said he wanted to meet me and go out on a date.” That’s how they met. That night, they went to a Chinese restaurant for dinner.
Two years later on August 24, 1935, they got married. “The wedding was held in my parents’ apartment,” Pat said. “20- 25 people attended and it was a no frills wedding. Nobody even took a picture.”
It was during the Great Depression and the newlyweds had little money. There was just enough for a one night honeymoon in Manhattan and then a visit to Radio City Music Hall. The next night, they moved into Ed’s parents’ apartment for three months.
“Then we lived in a boarding house,” Pat said. “We rented one room with a kitchen and SHARED a bathroom with FIVE other tenants.” Cringing at the memory, she added, “Every time we had to go to the bathroom, we had to scrub it.
“We stayed in that dump for a few months and then we moved to an apartment. We had our very own bathroom. That was wonderful.” This is how married life began for the Wards in 1935.
In 1940, hoping to find a better life, they drove across the U.S. to Los Angeles in a broken down Chevy. The car had a worn out cloth top and when it rained, Pat opened an umbrella inside.
By trade Ed was a watchmaker and for a time, owned a jewelry store. In 1942, they had their only child, Sheila.
Pat was a stay at home mom until Sheila reached her teens and then for 25 years, she worked in a drug store.
But family is their foundation and when Sheila’s first husband suddenly abandoned her and their infant Michelle in 1969, the Wards actively helped Sheila raise her.
“We lived from paycheck to paycheck,” Pat said. Although money was tight, they assured Sheila, “What we have, we’ll share. If we don’t have anything, we’ll share that too.”
With Sheila and the Wards working full-time, when Sheila worked overtime, the Wards would get Michelle from the baby sitter and sometimes keep her overnight. Weekends, holidays, birthdays and other special occasions were family times.
One day when Michelle was just 3 or 4 years old, in her soft little voice she said, “Grandma, do you think you could afford to buy me a bike this Christmas?” Deeply touched by her pint-sized grand-daughter’s request, Pat responded, “Michelle, you’re going to have a bike for Christmas.”
And when Michelle got her bike, “She was the happiest kid on earth,” Pat said. “Just to look at her face, we felt wonderful. We’d have done it no matter what.”
Today, Michelle is happily married and has two little girls of her own. The Wards lovingly display family pictures and share stories.
What advice do the Wards have to help you find greater happiness in your marriage? Please take careful note of Ed’s comments about Pat, which he spoke from the depths of his heart. “When we got married I told her nobody else could love her as much as I do.
“I told her that I would always love her as much as I did when we first met. I promised to always be with her for as long as I live and I’ve done that.”
Ed and Pat aren’t opposed to divorce if a couple is deeply unhappy together. But they encourage you to make a commitment to that special person in your life, for that’s how they view marriage, a mutual life-time commitment.
Most people wouldn’t think of parting with their children yet in many cases, their marital partner is readily expendable.
But a commitment to marriage offers a sense of permanence to the relationship. This means that as problems arise you’ll sincerely try to work them out.
“We all have problems and shortcomings,” Pat said. “But if you build a bond of trust together, you can address your differences with love, respect and compassion.”
Success Tip of the Week: The Wards happily do many things together, yet even after 70 years of marriage, they bicker a little. Then they smile, forgive and lovingly go about their way, enjoying all that life has to offer. With their blessings, may you have such good fortune in your life.
In the next KazanToday: A most unlikely war hero, a man who refused to harm others yet won the U.S. military’s highest award, the Medal of Honor.