Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Reflections upon 40 years of marriage May 13, 2022

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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Wedding guests toss rice at Randy and me as we exit St. John’s Lutheran Church following our May 15, 1982, wedding. (Photo credit: William’s Studio, Redwood Falls)

FORTY YEARS. May 15, 2022, marks a milestone for Randy and me as we celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. Where did the years, then the decades, go?

Audrey and Randy, May 15, 1982. (Photo credit: William’s Studio)

It seems only yesterday I walked down the aisle of St. John’s Lutheran Church, my slim hand clenching my farmer father’s massive hand. I walked with confidence and joy in my $82 off-the-rack high-necked lace wedding dress from Maurices, floral wreath encircling my head, left hand holding a bouquet of yellow roses, daisies and babies breath with ballerina flats pinching my toes.

Randy waited there, before the altar, at the front of the rural southwestern Minnesota church. In his charcoal grey rental suit with matching bow tie accenting his white shirt, single yellow rose pinned to his lapel. He even managed to scrub the grease from his fingernails just for our wedding day. The proof is in the professional photo of our hands focusing our shiny wedding bands. I haven’t seen Randy’s fingernails that clean since given his job as an automotive machinist.

The Vesta Hall, a community gathering place in my hometown, and our wedding reception site. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo)

While details of our wedding day aren’t as sharp as they once were, I have photos and my mom’s May 15, 1982, journal entry to refresh my memory. Mom noted that the supper of ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, fresh fruit salad, cabbage slaw, buns, relishes and beverages catered from Toni’s in nearby Marshall cost $2.65 a plate or $500 total. That covered the meal for 172, taxes and the cost of punch. Delicious punch, but in a putrid shade of green, as Randy reminds me to this day. Our colors were green and yellow.

Now, 40 years after that cool spring day which began with light rain opening to evening sunshine, it’s not details of the celebration which matter as much as the vows we made to each other before God, family and friends. For better or worse, in sickness and in health…

When you’re young—we were both not quite 26—and in love, the possibilities of challenges ahead seem unfathomable. But life happens with all its sorrows and joys and moments of incredible difficulties. And through all of those trying times, of which we’ve had plenty, Randy and I have stood together. We balance each other. He with calm. Me with organization and a plan of action. Our shared faith in God upholds us.

A favorite photo of my husband holding our then 10-day-old granddaughter, Isabelle. (Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo April 2016)

And now here we are, 40 years removed from our 2 pm wedding ceremony that included singing my favorite hymn, “Beautiful Savior,” with the congregation; listening to the pastor read Genesis 2:22-24; exchanging vows and rings; lighting the unity candle…

Randy in the automotive machine shop at NAPA Northfield, where he has worked for 39 years. (Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo)

Here we are, still united. United as loving parents of three children, now adults. United as loving grandparents of a 3 and 6-year-old. And united now in facing the unexpected loss of Randy’s job (due to a change in ownership and resulting closure of the automotive machine shop) after 39 years at the same workplace. It is yet another challenge to manage, to navigate. Together.

Randy, as cliché as it sounds, remains a rock of strength as he has throughout our marriage. I appreciate that about him, as much today as I did on May 15, 1982, the day I married the man I love. And still love.

© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

32 Responses to “Reflections upon 40 years of marriage”

  1. beth Says:

    congrats to both of you, this is truly a milestone and you are so lucky to have found each other.

  2. Happy anniversary to a strong couple! I love the memories you shared and know that God will see you through this latest challenge. Your love for one another shines through!

  3. Happy Anniversary!!

  4. CONGRATS – Cheers!!! I like your word navigate. At times I think of marriage in that way and no one gave me a map/gps. There are highs and lows, crossroads and forks, get lost and find your way again, etc. There are those moments where one asks the other why they just cannot ask for some directions – ha! You find you do better in doing it together in working through it. ENJOY YOUR SPECIAL DAY ((((loveandhugs)))))

    • Thank you, Renee, for your thoughtful comment. Yes, lots of navigating and especially right now and in the months to come.

    • I am not sure of Randy’s talents in what he does. A family member owns Ruff Manufacturing in Farmington. Might be worth Randy looking into if interested.

      • Thank you for that tip. His machining differs from that done by Ruff. He resurfaces heads, turns brake rotors, does valve jobs, etc. But many years ago he took a class at the local vo-tech in the type of machining Ruff does. Right now we’re “on hold” to see how everything unfolds. He’s still working, tasked with completing scheduled jobs, which should take him until the end of summer. We’ll see what happens. But I do appreciate your concern because decisions will need to be made eventually.

      • Wishing the both of you the best. At least he has some work to complete that will give him another few months and hopefully all will shake out in his favor.

      • That’s what we are hoping…

  5. Valerie Says:

    Happy Anniversary Audrey and Randy!
    I love the pictures!

  6. COLLEEN HONDL GENGLER Says:

    Happy 40th Anniversary, Audrey and Randy! Best wishes for many more.

  7. wyonne Says:

    Congratulations, Audrey and Randy!! Love your beautiful telling of your love for each other and your 40 years of marriage!

  8. Bernadette Arlene Thomasy Says:

    Happy Anniversary to you and Randy. Wishing you many blessings in the years ahead. Loved the wedding details from your mother’s diary. My mother saved a letter I wrote home about planning my wedding more than 50 years ago. It is such a treasure.

  9. Jen Woldum Says:

    Beautifully said

  10. Jane Says:

    What a lovely story. Thanks so much for sharing. Sending prayers and hugs your way!

  11. Liz Says:

    Congratulations to you and Randy! 40 years is quite an accomplishment. Your photos are lovely.
    I am sorry to hear about the loss of Randy’s job, but with all the help wanted signs I see at automotive shops and his skills, he should have no problem finding other work if he wants it.
    Good luck to him.

    • Liz, thank you for your anniversary wishes and concern about Randy’s job loss. Just to clarify for you, there are few automotive machine shops open any more. Randy’s job is highly-specialized and few people know how to do what he does. His customer base comes from a large geographical area. Customers include garages, car and implement dealerships, farmers, walk-in customers, etc. They are asking Randy where they can take the jobs he typically does for them. He has nowhere to direct them.

  12. Congratulations 🥰

  13. Sandra Says:

    A true rural MN wedding, how cute you were/are. You’ll both see 50 yrs., one of the blessings of marrying young. NAPA has gone corporate big time, but as you say, it’s not the era of auto, even machine, specialization. I’m so out of touch with the auto world in that area, but if I hear of any resources, will let you know. Craftsmanship in so many areas of our lives has left us. May God continue to bless you both.

  14. Jackie Hemmer Says:

    I’m a little behind in my reading but knew your anniversary was just a few weeks after ours. Both 40 years, with 2 amazing guys by our sides. HAPPY ANNIVESARY to both you and Randy, yours is a beautiful story of love, faith and appreciation for life! ❤


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