Such was my experience when visiting the Windale home of John and Monica Kelly to enquire about their recently celebrated Diamond Anniversary – sixty years of married life.
A key component of their story literally covers the walls of their lounge-room: photographs of their eight daughters and two sons (a third son died young), all of whom attended Catholic schools, their 30 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren! Fifty-nine of the Kellys’ married years have been spent happily in the midst of the supportive Windale Parish community.
Faith and family are two pillars of this marriage. The welfare and appropriate education of their children has always been paramount. John sometimes worked seven days a week to ensure the family’s financial security without ever holding a driver’s licence. (Monica undertook the chauffeuring role!). Today, well in their eighties, they are visited every day by a family member (daughter Colleen drops in as we are conversing) to check on their needs. A newly-modified bathroom is testament to the family skill-pool.
John and Monica’s happy dispositions (habitual, I’m told) are evident in an added sparkle in already bright eyes whenever there is mention of a family gathering, a visit or a grandmother’s prayers requested by a grandchild. I ask John about the glue that has bound them so closely for so long. He answers unhesitatingly, citing the will to work together (for others), honesty with each other and mutual care − there is no ‘head’ as such in this partnership. On the question of their hopes and wishes for young Catholic people today contemplating marriage, Monica reflects that recent scandals in the Church have perhaps made it harder for young folk to trust but she goes on to speak of healing and believes that the seeds sown by good example and education will one day bear fruit. “That’s where faith comes in,” she says.
John and Monica deserve every congratulation; their marriage is not merely an enduring one but is a living, evolving partnership in which such vital elements as selflessness, humility, sharing, caring and learning are obvious, even to a stranger.
Words of the late Diana, Princess of Wales, “There were three of us in this marriage” continue to point rather pitifully towards too many hopes and dreams shattered today by infidelity. Yet, with a twist, those same words might be applied to John and Monica Kelly. There have been ‘three’ in the Kellys’ marriage, the ‘third’ being the abiding presence of their God...and that has made all the difference!