Had fate been just a little bit kinder and my father in-law a little less polite, we’d all have been at the race track yesterday.
Married on August 13, 1955, MJ and Vince enjoyed an enviable relationship full of laughter, love and family. They had seven children within their first eight years of marriage, and two more over the next eight years.
Eventually, they became Grandpa Vince and Grandma Mary Jane, who liked nothing more than popping a little champagne and toasting life. They celebrated big events like weddings and graduations, and smaller ones like first teeth and Scrabble championships with equal gusto.
My father in-law dressed well, with a crisp shirt, knotted tie and silk handkerchief tucked into his suit coat pocket. But he wore every T-shirt we ever gave him at least once when we came to visit.
Like George Burns and Gracie Allen, they played off each other, sang a little when prompted, and laughed a whole lot.
For their 50th anniversary they hosted a giant party at Arlington Park. The highlight of a glorious evening happened when the two of them took the mic, thanked everyone for coming, and then launched into a rousing rendition of “Our Love is Here to Stay.”
And it was. Sadly, though, my father in-law was not.
In a situation he blamed mostly on his gracious habit of standing every time a lady entered a room, Grandpa Vince developed melanoma.
“It’s on the top of my head,” he’d say. “So MJ’s doctor never saw it because I stood every time she came in the room.”
Shortly after he hosted a “Celebration of Life” party at his home, Grandpa Vince died.
Still, as he would have wanted, we raised a glass to him and his lovely bride, the incomparable Outlaw Mary Jane, last night.
If you want to know about how love transcends time, and its infinite impact on the people it touches, take a gander at these pictures. Because it’s very clear.
The Rockies may crumble, Gibraltar may tumble
They’re only made of clay.
But their love is here to stay.