By Tamas Mondovics
Friends and family, along with Delaney Creek Lodge Assisted Living facility residents and staff, gathered earlier this month to celebrate a special event that filled the heart of all present with inspiration, while honoring one of their own.
Forrest and Wanda Shirley, who tied the knot more than 75 years ago, were greeted during a surprise anniversary party at the facility’s main living room, organized by the couple’s two daughters, Pat Farrar and Pam Allison and their family.
Farrar, who now lives in Kentucky, expressed some anxiety as she talked about the preparations for the festive event that offered some refreshments and music and was not only a major mile-stone for her parents, but was also a miracle, honor and a privilege to attend.
“With friends and family all around, this is the perfect place for mom and dad to celebrate this anniversary,” Farrar said as she thanked the staff at Delaney Creek, the home where her parents have been living for the past four years.
“I have been praying for months to make sure that we all will have a share in this moment,” Farrar added, while making reference to her parents’ age and failing health.
Forrest, 97, and Wanda, 96, were college sweethearts in Michigan where the two dated for about a year and then in the winter of 1938 made a commitment to each other, for better or for worse, and have kept that commitment going on for seven-and-a-half-decades.
“We actually had a hard time finding 75th-year anniversary decorations,” Allison, the Shirley’s younger daughter said.
Wanda’s wedding dress, which has been sitting in a box and has only been repacked once since the wedding, hung behind the table that also displayed the shoes she wore for her big day all those years ago.
Shirley’s wedding photo, which sat beside a cake to be served for those present, unquestionably drew attention to the couples enduring love for one another.
“Seeing everyone here today reminds me of the day Forrest and I were crowned senior King and Queen,” Wanda said, adding, “it’s just wonderful to see so many celebrate with us.”
As for Forrest, whose jokes filled the facility, he kept the occasion’s focus on where it was all those years ago; on his love Wanda.
“Don’t you think she looks beautiful despite putting up with me for 75 years,” he said.
Wanda spends her days with friends and exercises daily, while Forrest mostly talks about World War II and his service under United States Army General, George Smith Patton, Jr.
For more information about Delaney Creek Lodge, please visit www.delanycreeklodge.com.