5/15/2013 11:33:00 AM After spouses die, two friends celebrate 50th wedding anniversary together
Maureen Welborn and Larry Rowson.
Clarice Keating Of the Catholic Sentinel
The year 1962 began like any other year for four young people: Going to work and the movies, listening to music, trying to find their niche in life — and falling in love.
Next, came the wedding plans, a giant step in becoming a responsible partner in the game of life. Finding the perfect dress for the bride and a proper suit for the groom, ordering the flowers, ordering a cake from the best baker in town, plus hiring a photographer to snap that perfect moment, which will be enjoyed for the next 50 years.
These two couples came from four states: Arkansas, Kansas, Colorado and Iowa and they did not meet until the late ‘80s. Patsy and Larry Rowson were married in Jefferson. Maureen and Harold Welborn were married in Fort Collins, Colo.
The next 40 years were great. Each couple raised two sons, had careers and bought homes. Life was idyllic. The children grew up and went off to college to start their lives. Their parents’ hair was turning white; glasses were part of the look now, and perhaps a few more pounds to carry around.
Harold was suffering with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which changed his life — no more traveling or deep-sea fishing. Harold and Maureen taught themselves how to weave baskets during the last years of Harold’s life; he could still do this as he used oxygen to breathe. Harold lost his battle with the disease in 2006, and life alone was a big adjustment for Maureen after 44 years of marriage.
Patsy had a heart attack, a stroke and a broken leg that put her in a wheelchair the last few years of her life. She was a very determined woman and the wheelchair did not stop her from visiting with her grandchildren. Singing at church was a gift that Patsy enjoyed until she got sick. She died in 2011, after a courageous fight. Now, Larry was going through the adjustment in life after being married 48 years.
Maureen, a member of St. Charles Borromeo Church in Gold Beach, and Larry both worked for the United States Postal Service as postmasters for more than 25 years, so their paths crossed numerous times over the years as they attended meetings.
The year 2012 began as another year of adjusting and learning to live life without a spouse for Maureen and Larry. Soon the conversations were about summer plans - can you have a 50th wedding anniversary with only one spouse? They decided, yes, and so began planning for those two 2012 dates: June 24 and July 16. Maureen and Larry knew it was a special year for them, but were puzzled about how to honor an event from 50 years earlier without Harold and Patsy.
So they decided to celebrate together.
Plans began. Logistics would be a concern because Larry and Maureen lived 250 miles apart. Mid-way between northern and southern Oregon seemed a logical choice, on a quaint coastal hamlet. The morning of July 8,2012 dawned with brilliant sunshine, a great day for a couple now in their 70s.
Larry was waiting for Maureen at the destination resort with a dozen red roses. Maureen had woven a special basket for the occasion with golden garland representing the golden wedding anniversary.
“Sharing wedding albums was a delightful way to spend the evening,” Maureen said. “It was great fun to relive a century of living.”
They drank wine and ate truffles in front of the fireplace, with the sound of the pounding surf in the background. They shared wedding memories, stories about their early lives and their dreams and hope of young couples in love.
“When we lost our spouses, neither of us thought we would be able to celebrate the big anniversary. How wrong we were,” Maureen said. “When you think God has forgotten you, look around as your life moves on in another direction, he has a plan for you.”