50 years

a column by Julie Hays

50 years. That’s a long time for anything, and yet, if you ask my parents, the last half century passed in the blink of an eye.

My parents were high school sweethearts in Paris, Texas, where they still live today. They got married when they were 19 years old. They’ve always been each other’s best friend. The older I get, the more I appreciate their relationship. They admit it took a lot of hard work, highs and lows, but the payoff has been worth it.

We recently celebrated my parents’ anniversary with a trip to Mexico with my brother, his wife and their kids. It will forever rank as one of my all-time favorite family memories.

My parents are simple people who still work full-time while pushing 70-years-old, but we did our best to spoil them for once. We arranged for someone to do my mom’s makeup. It was a first for her, and we took professional pictures to mark their milestone.

We surprised my parents with a fireworks show and ate amazing food. But the most memorable part of the trip was a video tribute. My oldest daughter Callie and I gathered pictures and interviews from friends and family who offered words of congratulations and shared memories dating back decades. It’s hard to watch without crying. Even my dad, who is known for his toughness, cried. It’s a strange feeling to watch life literally flash by on a screen. It’s the first time I appreciated how fast it happens.

I asked my parents separately for their secret to 50 years and yet both answered the same:

“God first. Family second.”

“And always do the right thing,” my dad added.

Well done, Mom and Dad. Our lives have been richly blessed by you. And thank you for the reminder that the days are long, but the years are short. Even 50 years.

—Julie Hays

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