Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Go West, Young Woman

The people in the photo below are some of the nicest people you'll ever meet.

They're certainly some of the nicest ones I've ever known.

Thankfully, when Vern and Mary Jo met each other back in the 1950s, they agreed they'd make a pretty good pair so they got hitched -- while still in their teens -- and last month celebrated their keen instincts, incredible luck, and 50 years of marriage.

Here they are at their golden wedding anniversary party, surrounded by their friends and family, having just been serenaded by one of their granddaughters who played "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" for them on the fiddle at sunset overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Yeah, it was one of those moments.

I was 10 years old when I met their youngest daughter, Cari, after the family moved from the San Fernando Valley to San Clemente. We had no way to know it at the time, but the blossoming friendship between the nerdy girl and the new girl would become an enduring one.

Now, thanks to sharing years of special times together, even
our children show a heartwarming closeness.

Mary Jo and Vern have always kindly included me at their many family functions over the years -- whether a relaxed barbecue at San Onofre, a Sunday family dinner, their annual Fourth of July party or a Rockwellian Thanksgiving feast -- and even hosted my bridal shower in their gorgeous home a month before I married John. I think of them as my second family, and they've always treated me as one of their own.

This sense of warm inclusion has trickled down even to Finnegan, who promptly reported when someone announced at the party it was time for all the grandchildren to be photographed together. So here are all of Mary Jo and Vern's nine grandchildren, plus one extra Irish one for luck.

We were honored to be included on the guest list for Vern and Mary Jo's momentous celebration and even postponed our return to Hawaii this summer just to make sure we were there to raise our glasses in their honor. We wouldn't have missed it for anything.

You can see a slide show of the fun time we all had together at Casa Romantica by clicking this link.

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