Cindy and Norm
Cindy and Norm: 50 and 75, a Family Affair
Saturday late afternoon Barbara and I found our way, after forgetting the map and the address, to Quattro Pazzi, the restaurant serving the Oak Hills Golf Course in Norwalk, Connecticut, a mile south of the Merritt Parkway. The reason? Birthdays and anniversary for cousin Cindy and her husband Norman Hermanson, at whose wedding fifty years earlier each at the tender age of 25, at St. John's Episcopal Church, Stamford CT, I participated. Others in the original wedding party also made it to 2010 from 1960.
Kissin' cousin Cindy is a Howard Howard. Her mother, my father's sister Mildred, married a man with the same name as her brother, my Dad, Harold E. Howard. We speculate, but don't know for sure, that Patrick Howard (the other Howard family, not mine) and Michael Howard (my great-grandfather) emigrated from Ireland in the late 1840's to escape the potato famine. Patrick, I'm told, was a butcher, whose direct lineage, however, is filled with bankers. Michael was a gardener, whose direct lineage is filled with tradesmen... and one clergyperson. At nine years of age I had a terrific crush on one of Patrick's great-granddaughters who lived on the other side of the block from my house, but she was five years my senior and, as it goes with the fickle affections of youth, I found other girls to pine for. Cindy was graduated from Stamford High School and Beaver (now Acadia) College in Pennsylvania. For most of her working years she taught and provided administration for what is now known as King Low Heywood Thomas preparatory school in Stamford.
Norm grew up in Stratford CT, graduated from the high school there, and earned his degree at Boston University. Norm worked for many years for the American Kennel Club, organizing and running dog shows. As I declared to friends and family at the dinner, Norm has exquisite taste in dogs... and even better taste in women. The first compliment derives from his love of bichon frieses, one in particular, Cubby. The second compliment needs no explaining. But the prayer which I offered might need some explaining, that in the last two years Norm suffered severe "brain bleeds" and nearly took leave of us; but through the good offices of a strong and loving wife, skilled local hospitals and a nursing home (across the street from his home), and his own personal determination, Norm is back in the middle of things and able to enjoy the perquisites (whatever they are) of turning 75.
The photos of the celebration were taken by Don Piper, family friend and husband of Cindy's bridesmaid and fellow Beaver Alumnae, Nancy Piper. Don was commissioned by Cindy to rove and take candid shots. To which I am treating you, complete with legends attributable to me.
The highlight of the celebration was a Power Point presentation prepared by the children, tracing their parents' beginnings, merger, and two generations of blessed consequences. As a viewer whose ties with Cindy and Norm through the years have been tangential, I nonetheless experienced a certain welling of the eyes in remembrance of days and people past, especially Aunt Mildred and Uncle Harold, Cindy's parents. At the conclusion of the presentation, Cousin Bobby offered a tribute and a prayer. Here's the prayer:
Faithful God, who keeps your word, and your word toward us is mercy, we thank you this festive evening for two of your children, our friends, parents, neighbors, kith and kin, Cindy and Norm, fifty years together through all the circumstances, some happy and some desperate, which have come their way; and yet, true to each other with a love tempered by trial, they arrive at this moment more grateful than ever that you, in your Providence, have made them for each other. Be among us as we laugh and toast and tell stories, knowing that such gladness is one of the things for which you breathed life into us. Make of this dinner we share something of an anticipation of the banquet feast of heaven. As you have blessed Cindy and Norm with years of life, children and grandchildren, continue to bless them, we pray, with many more years of usefulness and satisfaction, that they may participate in the abundance of life from your hands here and then forever. In the name of the one through whom your grace, mercy, and peace flows into our world, Jesus Christ. Amen.