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What my parents taught us in 70 years of marriage

John and Marie Vasco of Calverton, by example,

John and Marie Vasco of Calverton, by example, teach the value of respect and hard work. Credit: Dawn Marie Vasco

This past June 28, my parents, John and Marie Vasco, celebrated 70 years of marriage. They met on a blind date and were married in 1945. We marked their special anniversary with an intimate family gathering.

Mom and Dad live in Calverton. She always says she's a cougar because she's 95 and Dad is only 92. They've been through years of hard work and good times, always supporting each other.

I remember my dad coming home late at night, tired, wet from rain or snow, having worked delivering custom furniture in all kinds of weather. He never complained.

When I was young, I only saw him on weekends because he came home so late. I always remember my parents working side-by-side for spring, fall, winter and summer cleaning or working on the yard, or painting and wallpapering.

My dad was patient and very meticulous in whatever he did. I thought everyone worked like that until I met my husband -- now my ex -- and then realized what a special dad I had.

My parents bought a house in Elmont, borrowing a few hundred dollars for a refrigerator, and lived there for more than 40 years, moving to Calverton when they both retired. They never believed they'd be able to own their own home and to them it was their castle.

They worked hard to decorate it and keep it looking beautiful. They taught us to work hard and to appreciate everything we had.

Mom wanted to better herself and went to school for typing and eventually worked full time. Dad hated that; he felt she should be a stay-at-home Mom. Mom likes everything -- travel, sightseeing, clubs, anything and everything. Dad, even today, can't understand why she wants to always go out!

Mom is still active with the Red Hatters, a women's group; Golden Circle, a social group; book discussions and garden club. Dad spoils Mom by taking care of the house, does jigsaw puzzles, watches baseball and football and keeps up on the news by reading Newsday each day. He plays Spider Solitaire on the computer.

Before leaving the house, Dad always makes sure Mom's hair is just so and gives her a kiss goodbye. With the help of my brother, they stay current with new technology. Their latest acquisition is an iPad. Mom feels Dad is still Mr. Perfect and the key to their successful marriage is that they respect each other.

My brother, who is 67, and I (now 69), have always known we were lucky to have such great parents. We're all blessed to have them as the matriarch and patriarch of our family, showing us what love is, what hard work is, and what respect is all about.

They have four grandchildren who live in North Carolina, Texas and here on Long Island. My daughter and I try to see them almost every weekend when we play cards together and catch up on the week's news.

Dad still has an older sister, who is 97, and his brother's boys still come to visit Mom and Dad. My parents are the glue that holds our whole family together, making holidays and ordinary days special to us all.

I know we are lucky to have them both, so lucky that I even save all of their voice-mail messages, just so I have their voice to hear when eventually they are not here. But Mom keeps telling us all she's definitely going to live to be 100 and said my dad has to stay around until at least then. So we will have a few more holidays and birthdays and more memories to experience. Their secret to staying young: keep current with news, with how you dress and keep family close.

They are both vibrant and still very interested in the world around them -- especially Mom, who still wants to go, go go!

Patricia Izzo,
East Rockaway

LET US HEAR FROM YOU Letters and essays for MY TURN are original works by readers that have never appeared in print or online. Share special memories, traditions, friendships, life-changing decisions, observations of life, or unforgettable moments for possible publication. Email, or write to Act 2 Editor, Newsday Newsroom, 235 Pinelawn Rd., Melville, NY 11747. Include name, address and phone numbers. Edited stories may be republished in any format.


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