Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Reflections after 38 years of marriage May 15, 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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My husband, Randy, and I exit St. John’s Lutheran Church in Vesta following our May 15, 1982, wedding. Photo by William’s Studio, Redwood Falls.


TODAY RANDY AND I CELEBRATE our 38th wedding anniversary. He is taking the day off from his job as an automotive machinist. It’s a much-needed break in this, his especially busy season. COVID-19 or not, vehicles, tractors, recreational toys and more still need repair. And rare are the specialists like Randy who do this type of work anymore. It’s labor intensive, demanding and requires knowledge that comes from decades of experience.

But I digress. Today is our anniversary, a day to reflect on our marriage and each other, not on a global pandemic and work.


MAY 15, 1982

Thirty-eight years ago, I married Randy in my small southwestern Minnesota home church, surrounded by family and friends. The ceremony included singing of my favorite hymn, “Beautiful Savior,” by the congregation and a solo of “O, Perfect Love” by a friend. The selected scripture reading was Genesis 2:22-24. There are no recordings of our wedding service, only still photos and a worship service bulletin. And memories.


The Vesta Hall, a community gathering place in my hometown. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


After the ceremony at St. John’s Lutheran, we gathered at the Vesta Community Hall a few blocks away for a meal catered by HyVee, followed by socializing and then a dance, with a live band. There was nothing fancy about any of this. Strips of twisted crepe paper and vases of single carnations decorated long tables. My cousins waited on guests, green and yellow gingham cotton aprons, stitched by me, protecting their dresses. Diners sat on metal folding chairs pulled up to uncovered tables.

Randy and I toasted with green punch my mom prepared. Randy still reminds me of the putrid hue. Hey, our colors were green and yellow. Not John Deere shades, though. We posed for photos with our three-layered wedding cake with my husband insisting we not smash cake into each other’s faces. I’m thankful for that request. Smart guy.

Afterward, we danced across the worn wooden floor, twirling and linking arms and enjoying the evening with family and friends. I kicked off the ballet style shoes that pinched my toes. Around midnight we left for the short drive to nearby Marshall and a hotel room that reeked of cigar smoke. Funny how you remember details like that.


MAY 15, 2020

Fast forward to today. It seems unfathomable that 38 years have passed since our May 15, 1982, wedding. Three kids and two grandkids later, here we are, much older, much more seasoned in life. When I think on all that’s transpired in nearly four decades, I feel especially thankful for Randy. He remains the calm and steady man I married, a good balance for me.


Me, next to my poem, River Stories, posted along the River Walk in Mankato as part of the Mankato Poetry Walk & Ride. Photo by Randy Helbling, November 2019.


Together we have grieved the loss of parents and other loved ones, dealt with family crisis, faced health issues, raised a family, found joy in the simple things in life, been there for one another. When he married me 38 years ago, I doubt Randy ever envisioned attending poetry readings. But he has, many times, supporting me in my writing. That says a lot for a guy who likely never cracked open a poetry book before marrying a writer. I appreciate, too, that Randy supports my photography, sometimes even pointing out photo ops I miss.

We both enjoy country drives, small towns, craft breweries, summer concerts in the park, church dinners, time with our grown children and now, especially, our sweet grandchildren. I’ve learned to like car shows, but not for the same reasons as Randy. While he’s looking under hoods, I’m looking at hood ornaments, appreciating the artistic aspect of vintage vehicles. He enjoys reading historical non-fiction. I prefer fiction. He does Sudoku. I tried once, but failed miserably. Our interests are similar, yet separate.


Randy grills nearly every weekend year-round. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


I appreciate Randy’s many talents, from his grilling skills (and, yes, he even grills veggies like Brussels sprouts and broccoli for me) to his ability to fix almost any mechanical issue with our vehicles to his compassion in “leading” Sunday morning video church services at a local nursing home (pre-COVID).

My love for Randy remains as strong as 38 years ago. Changed, yes. But not at its core. We have done life together. Celebrated good times and, together, managed many difficult times. He has been there for me and I for him. For 38 years. And for that I am grateful.

© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


39 Responses to “Reflections after 38 years of marriage”

  1. Kathy Hagen Says:

    Very nice post, a well stated message of love and honoring. Happy anniversary to you both.

  2. dalmatianangel Says:

    Happy Anniversary to you and Randy!

  3. You two are a gem and inspiration. Also adorable in that picture. 💕 Congratulations and Happy Anniversary! 💐

  4. Marilyn Donnell Says:

    Happy Anniversary! I had a good laugh – remembering the putrid greenish punch my Mother created for our wedding reception. I think the recipe was provided through the County Home Extension agent. I remember there were bottles of ginger ale, sherbet, and probably cool-aid, but don’t remember anything else. It was truly delicious, but ugly.

    • Must be the recipe source because it sounds like what my mom made for us. Tasted great. Looked awful. But I wanted green punch. I got it. Just not in the “right” shade of green.

      • Marilyn Donnell Says:

        “My color” was robin’s egg blue, everything else matched or blended in well, but not the punch. I have found the recipe in my old 3×5 box, in my Mother’s hand it says at the top: (Not as pretty as some but very good – used at Marilyn’s wedding). The ingredients were tea, orange, lemon, and pineapple juices, ginger ale, and a syrup (pretty strong, 3 cups each of sugar and water).

      • I love your mom’s note. What a treasure.

  5. Sandra Van Erp Says:

    Happy anniversary and 38 more! Yes, a “mechanical” in love with a “creative” is not so unusual, but poetry readings?! It’s the real thing! God bless.

  6. valeriebollinger Says:

    Happy Anniversary! So grateful for your marriage. It’s fun to see the photo from your wedding and look at the way people were dressed up…

  7. Beverly A Walker Says:

    Happy Anniversary! Beautiful day to take off together. I took a vacation day off also to take a break from this covid madness!

    • Thank you, dear cousin. It’s so good to hear from you. I have to tell you that today–hiking at a state park near Owatonna, walking at parks in Owatonna and ice cream from The Scream– made for a perfect day. So still and peaceful at Rice Lake State Park. No sounds of anything except the wind and birds. No traffic! This evening we’re watching a car cruise in town and then ordering pick-up from a local restaurant. It’s been an absolutely lovely anniversary. I hope this finds you and your family doing well. I’m a little worried about what’s happening in Wisconsin, although Madison is standing strong (and that’s where “the kids” live).

  8. CONGRATS to the two of you – adventure partners and soul mates!!! In October 2019 Mr. Craves and I have been together 20 years – married 15 years – it does not feel that we have been together that long and that is probably a good thing (still very much in love and care and support one another). That is SPECIAL! Happy Day Indeed – Hello! Weekend – Congrats – Cheers ‘clink’!!!

  9. Ken Wedding Says:

    Congratulations! I find it wonderful to hear the joy with which you remember the past and celebrate the present.

  10. Jackie Hemmer Says:

    Happy anniversary to a sweet couple. I loved reading your post, it is so obvious the love you have for each other. Here’s to many many more years of Hope, Love and Happiness for you and your man.

  11. Kathleen Cassen Mickelson Says:

    Happy Anniversary to you both! 38 years is a good, long time. May you have many more years together.

  12. Norma Says:

    Congratulations on your 38 years together. Hope you will have many, many more with the man you love.

  13. Littlesundog Says:

    I love that wedding photo! Times were simple then. A wedding was special, not all pomp and parade – it was us being us – not fancying up to show off or compete. I suspect, your life is about a deep companionship that can’t really be explained (though you did a very good job in this post!). All of your writing about country drives and day trips tells me how bonded the two of you are, even though you have some different interests. Those differences are what make for the best relationships… the yin and yang of life. Congrats on 38 years of a journey together. Blessings to you both.

  14. Cheryl K Pick Says:

    Happy Anniversary to both of you. Congratulations and we hope you have many more special times together.

  15. Happy Anniversary, Audrey!!

  16. Walter Says:

    Thank you for sharing these events with friends of the Blog.

  17. Ruth Says:


  18. Missy’s Crafty Mess/Missy’s Handarbeid Says:

    Everyone should read these words before committing to marriage. Huge difference in between wanting to get married and wanting to be married. One day of your life versus a life time. Congratulations 🎉 on finding yourself a keeper. Wishing you many more happy years together.

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