By Catherine Plishka
“Love Bears All Things, Believes All Things,
Hopes All Things, Endures All Things.” 1 Cor. 13:7
Many married couples celebrate milestone anniversaries together: 25, 30, even 40 and sometimes 50. But Jack and Ellarita, Residents at St. Joseph’s Home for the Elderly in Palatine, celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary on May 3. Their love story is one of strong faith, hope, perseverance and of course, unconditional love. Jack, a former navy sailor, recalled how he and Ellarita first met.
“I was a rough bachelor. Her (Ellarita’s) cheerfulness was so attractive to me,” he said. “We had a foundation long before we really knew each other.” While growing up on the south side of Chicago in an old Irish neighborhood, Jack and Ellarita grew to know each other through their families who were good friends.
Then with the arrival of World War II, Jack entered the Navy right before D-Day in 1944. Although he and Ellarita corresponded by letter, Jack missed her very much. Upon his arrival home, Jack and Ellarita’s relationship grew. It was in fact, during one summer in the church of Our Lady of Peace on the south side that Jack and Ellarita specifically prayed that one day they would marry through, “an angel,” on behalf of Mother Mary. In 1952, Jack moved out west to Arizona where he worked in the copper mines. “I wondered if I would ever see Elle again,” said Jack with tears in his eyes. However, God never forgot the request they made in His Mother’s church. One day, Jack was notified of a call from Ellarita’s mother, who happened to be in town visiting family. During their meeting, whom should Jack meet but Ellarita as well.
“I thought I would never see you again!” he cried. Besides God, Jack gives all the credit to Ellarita’s mother for being, “the angel,” who reunited them in their relationship. “I loved her like my own mother,” he said fondly. Months later, Jack and Ellarita were engaged.
As far as advice for being together as long as they have, Jack said that persistence is key. “We took vows that bound us forever. The foundation of marriage is trust in each other’s love.” Ellarita said other ingredients for a blessed marriage are, “forgiveness and humor,” and that one should always, “look on the sunny side of things.”
If you ever doubt God’s faithfulness to His children or become a little impatient while waiting for a marriage partner, Jack and Ellarita’s story gives hope, “for hope does not disappoint,” (Rom. 5:5:) as St. Paul writes in his letter to the Romans. A sign of true love is that it clearly perseveres and remains over time. As Jack looked at Ellarita and smiled, “She was beautiful and she still is.”