Albert Camus wrote, “In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” This was the invincible summer in our family. How many times do family members and friends who are so special to you come together in one geographical spot for five hours on a certain day, time and place? It is eternal summer in our collective, grateful heart.
I keep thinking about those five hours of my parents' 50th wedding anniversary party when all the people they love so deeply gathered to eat, drink, dance, talk, laugh and catch up. Henry James wrote: “Summer afternoon . . . the two most beautiful words in the English language.” How right he was. That afternoon gathering could have gone on for hours; it was a pastiche of civility and kindness; of old memories and old friendships; and, most important, of the tenderness that humans have for one another on golden anniversaries.
It did not hurt things to know that the beauty of the weather combined to make it a special day. “What a beautiful, sunny morning,” wrote Takayuki Ikkaku. “It makes you happy to be alive, doesn't it? We can't let the sun outshine us. We have to beam, too!” It was a glory to see my parents so radiant on that day, surrounded by their children, grandchildren, siblings and friends of long standing. “The summer,” wrote the poet Wallace Stevens, “is like a perfection of thought.” All of us kept thinking what a remarkable occasion it all was across four generations and every part of the United States.
Since we are Macedonian, there was dancing and plenty of beautiful and boisterous music. “In summer, the song sings itself,” wrote William Carlos Williams. He may have been thinking of the tunes and temperament that powered the afternoon dance floor. One of the peerless moments was when my parents danced together, just them, as if in a dream. They didn't dance to Bob Dylan, to be sure, but his lyrics rise to poetry in capturing that moment: “There's beauty in the silver singing river/ There's beauty in the sunrise in the sky / But none of these and nothing else can match the beauty / That I remember in my true love's eyes.” When my parents danced, all of us thought: They were, from eternity, meant to be together. Their dance pointed up the ancient Swedish proverb that, “A life without love is like a year without summer.” They have shared 50 summers of a remarkable marriage.
It was a day of joy, unencumbered. It was a day that will live on forever for all of us. Even the setting of the sun that evening, and the subsequent moon cast, gave us an afterglow and evening of twinkling stars. “Oh, the summer night has a smile of light and she sits on a sapphire throne.” So wrote Barry Cornwall. They are immortal words.