We're here for Jim Saylor's parents 65th wedding anniversary celebration at the Rising Sun First Church of Christ. Well, maybe. We pull into an empty parking lot at about 12:05 pm - "fashionably late" as Tom describes it. But where are the others? Where, for that matter, is anyone?
What to do? It occurs to me that I have Jim's phone number loaded into the contact list of my cell phone. I give him a call but get no answer, just voice mail. Then I leave a message. "We're here. Where is everyone?"
A mere minute passes and my phone rings. It's Jim. "We're here, too," he explains. So why are there no other cars?
Turns out we're close but not close enough. They're in an adjacent building - another church entirely - down an alley behind us. Jim says "I can see you!" and so we turn around and there he is, suited up and missing the most important celebration he's attended in years.
I start the car and park in the correct parking lot. We're 15 minutes late - more fashionable than we intended - but we are here ... and so is everyone else.
I should give you some of the background behind my friendship with Jim, certainly the greatest of my 65 years. We met in 1970 at Miami University - Middletown in a geology class, I believe, and we hit it right off. Jim and I clicked. We had similar interests and that was the glue that first drew us together. But more importantly, by far, is that we simply liked one another. Nearly half a century later, we still do.
James (aka Jim or Jay) and Jim Saylor, father and son.
Here's father and son, James and Jim. The elder is now 83.
Jim's mother, Joy Saylor (l), enjoys the anniversary meal with her husband and a constant flow of admirers and well-wishers.
Joy and James Saylor
Though we've all grown older, their beautiful personalities still show through. It's been a long road since the early 1970's. After I met Jim at Miami, he came back to Miamisburg with me one weekend and spent the night at our house. I remember he slept in the top bunk (where Bob went that weekend, I don't remember), Jim and I visited Dad at Andy's Super Valu where the two of them met for the first time. Not much later, Jim and I enjoyed a mini-trip to Madison, Indiana and Clifty Falls State Park. And finally, two of our spring breaks from Miami were spent together in Florida. Good memories, all.
This is the family table at the front of the room (Tom's is foreground right). We were honored to be seated there.
Pam and Jim Saylor
A power couple if there ever was one, these two have been special from the very beginning and I can't imagine a closer bond. Their clear love for one another is something to admire and be envious of.
The 65th anniversary cake was delicious. The family table shared the cake; other tables feasted on cupcakes. There was a distinct advantage to be seated where we were.
Jeremy and April Saylor
Jim's son, Jeremy, turned out to be a fine man (who would have expected otherwise?). I remember holding Jeremy as a baby and how fragile he seemed (or maybe it was just Uncle Bill's nerves). Jeremy's heartfelt tribute to his grandparents was emotionally moving. I loved hearing every word.
Becky Smith (l-r), Kameryn Saylor, Joy and James Saylor and Bryce Rowenkamp
The food's eaten and now it's time to cut the cake! Butter cream icing!
Jim's speech was equally emotional. Clearly, the love this family has for one another is special. I feel lucky to have been a part of their lives.
James Saylor (foreground) listens to his son's kind remarks
Joy and James Saylor
The couple married while Joy was still seventeen! It's a good thing: it gave them more time together.
Pam and Jim Saylor
A candid shot of Pam and Jim admiring his parents.
Tammy and Joe Saylor
I didn't know Jim's brother, Joe, well but he and his wife drove up from Georgia for the anniversary fete.
Tom and I stayed about an hour and a half. The pastor of the Rising Sun Church of Christ gave a nice tribute, too. Most impressive was the intimate information he collected beforehand. Too often such speeches are impersonal and generalized. Not this one.
Saylor's Wedding Announcement
Mt. Vernon Signal - Mt. Vernon, KY - November 17, 1949
I wish both my own father and mother could have been there. Dad always loved both Jim's (he and the father seemed to share a similar fun-loving personality) and Mom would have enjoyed striking up her friendship with Joy again. I believe we visited them when they lived in West Chester (Ohio) once.
These are milestone events that we gather like precious stones. They will never come again.
Later: This article appeared in the Mount Vernon Signal (Mount Vernon, Ky) on November 14, 2014:
Credit: Mount Vernon Signal