Married for life - Pat and Bob's secrets for a successful marriage
Whether fresh from the oven or out of a bag, chocolate chip cookies rank near the top of favorite comfort foods. There’s nothing exciting about these lumpy brown clumps we take for granted. Yet when I bite into a great chocolate chip cookie, I know it. I savor its sweet richness and the feeling of warm contentment that starts on my tongue and glows into my soul.
Sitting at Bob and Pat Eady’s dining room table, I wonder how many chocolate chip cookies have graced its surface in their 64 years of marriage. Their five children, 10 grandkids and six great-grandchildren probably wouldn’t remember amid all the wonderful food and warm memories. Chocolate chip cookies get lost in decades of Christmas Eve parties, birthday celebrations or “just because it’s a nice day” get-togethers.
In the 1940s, when Bob and Pat Eady attended high school together, their chocolate chip cookies came from homes, oven-warm and served with love. Sharing them with siblings and cousins who lived nearby sweetened the cookies’ taste and flavored childhood memories. When these high school sweethearts married in 1948, they settled near their families and began making their life together the only way they knew how.
“When we were growing up, it was part of the culture of Catholics. When you got married, you married for life,” Bob says.
“We came from close-knit families. Our parents stayed together forever,” Pat explains. “Our brothers and sisters, our cousins and friends from high school all stayed together until death parted them.”
“There’ve been times when we haven’t been very happy,” says Bob, “but it never crossed my mind that I’d want to be with anybody else.” Pat nods in agreement. “I don’t think anybody else would put up with me,” Bob smiles.
“Oh, I don’t know about that,” Pat says, tilting her head and smiling at her husband. “We’ve been pretty happy. And we’ve been blessed with very few hardships.”
“We had some hard times. Starting out in the insurance business, you don’t make a lot. As the children kept coming, things got a little tight,” Bob remembers.
“But we managed. We put them all through Catholic schools,” Pat adds. “Our faith is strong. We try to live it.”
“Our kids are very important to us. When our son was flying around Vietnam in helicopters, we didn’t know if he would come home from the war or not. That was a rough time – lots of prayers and sleepless nights,” Bob says, with Pat nodding in agreement.
“We are so proud of all our children, grandchildren, and now our great-grandchildren,” Pat adds. “They’re a part of you. The love you have for them makes them so important.”
“We always tried to involve ourselves in what our kids did. We spent a lot of time in Canada when our boys got into hockey. I was president of the fathers’ group at our kids’ school and Pat was president of the mothers’ group for years.
“We have been able to give our time and finances – time mostly – to help make our schools, churches and other organizations better for others,” Bob says. “We have encouraged our kids to round out their lives by giving their time, too.”
“And they do,” Pat agrees. “We’re very proud of how all of them have been involved in their communities and children’s lives.”
Bob says, “When our grandkids ask us the key to a long marriage I tell them it’s not too complicated. It’s a give and take proposition and sometimes you go through tough times. But I tell them: Don’t ever go to bed mad,”
“... and always kiss each other goodnight.” Pat finishes.
“It takes an effort to do that,” Bob says. “Sometimes you don’t want to kiss goodnight. But you can’t just hope it’s gonna happen.”
Pat nods. “Marriage takes work.”
“It isn’t something you just do,” Bob leans forward for emphasis. “You need to love it, and you need to love the person you’re married to.”
“And you need to have God in your life,” Pat adds. “Bob has been a strong, loving, wonderful husband and father.” She reaches out to gently slap his leg as her eyes redden slightly. “If something happens to him, I will miss him terribly.”
“I didn’t know you felt that way about me,” he teases.
Pat rolls her eyes slightly and continues. “We’ve had a happy life, and I know I would go on. I don’t know about Bob. I don’t know what he would do. Some of our friends have lost their wives, and they’re so lonely it breaks your heart.”
“I know what I would do,” Bob responds. “I would go on living, but I certainly would miss her. Who would make the bed in the mornings?” They smile at each other.
“We’ve been together more than 64 years. I think it would be harder to lose one another if we were younger,” Pate muses. “When you’re young, you don’t expect to die, but, as you grow old together, you feel more at peace. I think it’s easier to accept.”
As I wrap up my notes and get up from the table, Pat says, “I’m afraid our lives haven’t been very exciting. I hope you can find something to write about for your article.”
Smiling, I hug them each in turn and head out from their kitchen. It may not be exciting, but, like a great chocolate chip cookie, the sweetness and richness of the life they’ve made together are glowing their way into my soul.