This Thanksgiving would have marked Marilyn and Donald Ward's 55th Wedding Anniversary had he not passed away last year.
They were wed on Nov. 24, 1956 in Trinity Lutheran Church in New Hyde Park, Long Island, New York - the start of a life steeped in love and family.
"Soon as I met him," she said, she knew he was somebody special. "He was just a wonderful guy," she said. "And he had a beautiful, black and white 1955 Pontiac Chieftain convertible with a red and white interior," she shares with a girlish giggle. The car may have grabbed her attention, but it's the man who won her heart.
"We were going together a year and two weeks before we got married," she says. Their engagement on Easter Sunday, which just happened to fall on April Fool's Day that year- was nothing shy of memorable. "He hands me the box and I say, 'It's so beautiful,'" Marilyn says. But, she hadn't yet opened it.
Nestled within the box's interior, where one might have expected a ring, was a broken washer.
"I chased him around the house with my dog at his heals," she laughs.
"Then, he finally gave me my Easter gift. And there's a scarf and he had pulled the scarf through the ring. It was a diamond. It's still on my ring finger," she says, not wanting to take them off.
He was a jokester who just loved to have fun, and a marvelous father who did everything with their three boys, from coaching Little League to Boy Scouting.
"Thank God I have three wonderful sons and a brother and sister-in-law and great friends," Marilyn says.
This Thanksgiving, what would have been her 55th Wedding Anniversary, Marilyn's rallied her family for a return trip to Woodloch Pines for an all-inclusive family vacation.
Having visited the Poconos resort in September with the Electricians Local 3 Retirees, Marilyn said, "I had such a wonderful time with all the people we were there with. It was just so lovely to see how they ran everything, how they couldn't do enough for you."
Her three boys and their wives and five grandchildren, along with her brother and sister-in-law, Fred and Marie Faas, will celebrate the season at Woodloch; a grand family reunion!
"I'm gong to have a picture on my table," Marilyn said. Taken in Vermont, it's a picture of her husband in a floppy hat, banging on a fry pan with a wooden spoon, calling everyone in to breakfast.
This Thanksgiving will be about family.
"Just comradeship. Just having a good time - all the family together," Marilyn said. "My husband would have loved it."