By Megan Wirts
Note: Our Ms. Wirts recently delivered this tribute to love at a gathering for her Grandparents 60th anniversary.
Welcome everyone! For those of you that don’t know me, my name is Megan Wirts, I am the eldest (*cough* favorite) granddaughter of Jim and Sharon Frey. On behalf of the family, I would like to thank you all for joining us today to celebrate this special occasion.
60 years. 6-0. According to recent statistics compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau, the percentage of married persons who reach their 25th anniversary is 33%; 20% of couples reach their 35th anniversary; but only 5% reach their 50th anniversary. The 60th anniversary . . . who can even imagine that? But, these two young little love birds have beat the odds and created a life together filled with laughter and love, a marriage that many of us look to as inspiration and with admiration.
When I was told that we were going to be having this celebration and that I should give a speech, I decided to go for a visit to grandma and grandpa’s house to get some inside information. Plus, I love to hear them tell the story of how they met because whenever they do, my grandma turns 10 shades of red and has the biggest grin on her face and my grandpa has that mischievous twinkle in his eye that we all love so dearly.
It all started back in 1957 when Sharon VanIddeking was just 15 years old and Jim Frey was 16. Jim’s friend Ronnie Atwood set them up on a blind date. Neither of them knew anything about the other and on the day of this blind date, Sharon didn’t know what time the boys were coming to pick her up so when Jim and Ronnie showed up, she was out in the barn milking cows with Bobby Barnes. Although, my grandpa likes to say that she was having a roll in the hay and that’s how he knew she was the girl for him, and then my grandma blushes and says “No, no, no! But I wasn’t ready, I was out there wearing floozy shorts and I needed to fix my hair!”. Sharon says that she saw the boys walking up the drive and saw Ronnie with a cute boy with red hair and she rushed into the house to get ready before he could see her. They ended up going to the movies and that was it, they were smitten with each other, and as Jim says “she was all over me like a dose of salt.” Sharon said she didn’t kiss him on the first date though, she was a lady and waited until the second date while wearing red lipstick and she left her mark. She really did, she left red lipstick smeared on Jim’s face and his friends teased the heck out of him, but if I know my grandpa, he was pretty proud.
Two years later after Sharon graduated highschool, the two of them were married on June 26, 1959 in a simple church ceremony surrounded by their close family and friends. They spent many years of their life together farming and raising five children, which then grew to 18 grandchildren and 20+ great grandchildren, give or take a few depending on who is getting married or having babies in the future. They have cared for all of us, treated our colds with whiskey and honey and given us enough cookies and popsicles to last a lifetime.
I think what has helped keep their marriage strong is that they love to do things together. They love to go camping, fishing, and play cards together. Going camping and fishing with the grandparents was always a highlight of my summer. I remember going up to the UP and fishing for walleye with them and the uncles, Uncle Don and Uncle John. They taught us all how to play Euchre and that if you are going to go alone you better have a good hand! Grandpa taught many of us how to pitch a baseball or softball and how to cast a fishing pole. Grandma taught us how to make strawberry shortcake, zucchini bread and the art of garage saling and going to the casino. Grandpa also always has the best dating advice. We all also learned to knock really loudly if we are going to visit on a Sunday morning because there are just some things you can't unsee. Together they have shown us all that a good sense of humor and a good roll in the hay is key to keeping a marriage happy.
Jim and Sharon love each so much that their love spilled over onto all of us. The lessons each of us has learned from them are priceless and important. 60 years is filled with many long days, many sleepless nights worrying or….you know *wink wink*..., but it’s the years that go quickly. It’s the years that you don’t realize are slipping away and the next thing you know you have too many grandkids to fit under one roof, but always enough food to feed an army. We have all been lucky to have these two in our lives for as long as we have, but they have had each other for 60 years and we are hoping for many more. The roots are deep and the love is sweet, but life can be hard. As long as you continue to choose each other over and over again, the years will fly by and the love will grow stronger and last longer.
Cheers to Jim and Sharon and cheers to 60 years!