Other people celebrate their anniversaries on years 1, 2, 3, 5, 10, 20, 25, 30, and so on. I was trained as a mathematician, so I tend to celebrate on years 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 23, 29, 31, 37, 41 and now 43. If fortune really favors us, we may also celebrate on year 103. I would like that.
Everybody who knew us predicted our marriage would fail. They all doubted it would last three years. But, hey, when you have a good thing going, why stop? The priest who performed our marriage ceremony, Father Kennedy, had tried hard to convince us not to go through with it. After Panama, he was assigned to Rome for several years, then to Massachusetts. I was able to get his Massachusetts address and wrote him to let him know we were still going strong, with no thoughts of ending the union.
Legally, none of the above is true. Panama has no marriage licenses. To be married in the church we had to have a civil wedding performed first and that marriage registered with the Panamanian authorities. Our civil marriage took place on December 16, 1971, my thirty-first birthday. I had the certificate translated and registered and we had an early January date set with the Church. Then Delia came down with pneumonia and wound up in the hospital. We had to re-schedule. Open dates were hard to find: we had a choice between April 15 and some time in August. Neither of us wanted to wait until August. Neither of us really thinks of December 16 as our anniversary.
Our civil ceremony took place in Balboa, Canal Zone by Judge Baker. The Canal Zone was a U.S. territory by treaty with Panama. When a new treaty came into effect, the Canal Zone ceased to exist. Our church marriage took place in Guadalupe Church in the city of Panama, Republic of Panama. Our children were born in Balboa Heights, Canal Zone. Our civil marriage and the birth of our children took place in a place that doesn’t exist now.
Each morning, when I wake up, I think about the things I am thankful for. Today, our marriage stands out in my mind. We have no plans for an overt celebration of our union, but both of us are aware we have achieved a new milestone. I am not healthy enough to party. We don’t need a party to celebrate the really good things in life.
But if you see me today, know that I am partying on the inside.