Jilly D.

Learning from elders how marriage succeeds

In Off-The-Grid Memoir on July 31, 2014 at 1:21 am

557054-R1-19-20A_020In early July 1950 Charlie and Janet Warren were married. For their 50th wedding anniversary, Janet decided she would like to get married all over again.

To Chuck, of course.????????????

The Mecklenburg Methodist Church and the Grange building next door were reserved for the big event. Sam’s sister, Judy, made most of the arrangements for the big celebration. I helped decorate the Grange for the reception and arranged the flowers. Sam got his friend to lend him a limo so he could drive his parents to and from the big event in style. He even got a bottle of champagne and served them a celebratory drink on their way to the July 6, 2001 ceremony.

Four generations of family members and neighbors filled the pews of the church. The minister asked for the recipe to their success in matrimony.

“Patience,” Chuck said. “Honesty,” said Jan.  They were both right. But if Jan has said “patience” and Chuck had said “Honesty,” we’d all known they were liars.

At the big anniversary celebration I had the pleasure of meeting more Warren family members. Uncle Donald and Aunt Nori Warren lived about a mile and a half away in the hamlet of Mecklenburg. They’d sold the original Warren farm and moved into “town,” more than a dozen years ago.

Uncle Donald was Charlie’s eldest brother. Lyman Warren came in between the two. Lyman fought in the Bataan Death March and saw battles across the European theater, but he’s the quietest of the three brothers. I only know that about him from the rest of his relation. Donald farmed his father’s land; Grandpa Harry Warren passed the farm to the oldest son.

When Sam was growing up, Uncle Donald treated him like the son he never had. Then  Donald married a Finnish gal, Elnora, and adopted her two daughterss. Donald and Nori had Wendy, and then a son, Thomas. Even after Tommy was born, Uncle Donald still treated Sam like his son. Donald would ask Sam to drive tractor or plow or harrow or tend to the crops. Aunt Nori didn’t want her son to grow up to be something more than a farmer. She protected Tommy from Donald. If Uncle Donald wanted a field plowed and suggested Tom do it, why Aunt Nori would get up on the tractor herself and do it.

Tommy did learn one thing from his Pa. He learned how to whittle wood. Tom went into the military and served his country and came home to work as a wooden toymaker. Nori thinks now she may have made a mistake with Donald and Thomas. She let the both of them off too easy.

Aunt Nori gave me one piece of advice when I met Sam.

“Never learn how to drive the tractor,” Nori said. She had seen my photos of the tractors Sam had been restoring in the past couple years. She worried I glamorized this hard life too much.

I asked her why I shouldn’t learn to drive tractor.

“Honey, if you can drive tractor, there won’t be nothing he won’t expect you to do.”


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