Their love is here to stay

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.

We’d vet horses by name, number and jockey silk, and raise our glasses to one of the greatest teams we know, my in-laws, Mary Jane and Vince Biskupic.

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.

Vince and Mary Jane wedding
They started their marriage with a champagne toast and celebrated every milestone since.
02-01-2010 03;35;23PM
That’s three generations of Vinnies, right there. We took that photo many times over the years, but this one is my favorite.
02-01-2010 03;49;06PM
Here they are with another couple whose 60th wedding anniversary I was privileged to attend, Vinko and Mary Biskupic. This photo is from my own wedding 28 years ago.
02-01-2010 03;52;30PM
I knew I would love this picture forever the day I shot it. This is Vince helping his dad with his tie at his sister Nancy’s wedding. Nancy and her husband Steve celebrated their 16th anniversary this month.
02-01-2010 03;54;52PM
Here we are posed with Aunt Elaine during a big holiday Scrabble tournament.
02-01-2010 03;56;33PM
A champagne toast master.
Vinnie's first communion
Grandpa Vince and Grandma Mary Jane made their way to Appleton on many occasions. This is them at Vinnie’s First Communion (with Aunt Donna on the right).
How 'bout those smiles!
How ’bout those smiles!
Dad at track 2
The man loved the race track. Here he is a Hialeah.
Dad at track
A true wit, he wrote his own obituary, which ended with, “all things considered, I’d rather be at Hialeah.”
Mary Jane and Vince
A dignified, fun-loving couple all their lives.
Vince and Mary Jane cut the cake
Here they are cutting the cake at their 50th wedding anniversary.
Vince and Mary Jane kiss
Still frisky.
Vince and Mary Jane sing
The highlight of the evening was this rousing performance. Their love is here to stay.

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