Ed and Geraldine Boziel, Arbor Vitae, are pictured with their family for the celebration of their 70th wedding anniversary in November. (Submitted photo)
Catholic Herald Staff
“Marriage is love, health, hard work and togetherness.”
Those words are how Geraldine Boziel, a parishioner at Holy Family Catholic Church in Woodruff, describes marriage.
Geraldine and her husband, Ed, celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary on Nov. 18.
The couple, who grew up in the same neighborhood in the Milwaukee area, has lived in Arbor Vitae since their retirement in 1984. One of their two sons lives in nearby St. Germain, and the other still lives near Milwaukee.
“It was a hot August night,” Ed said, setting the scene for the first time he asked Geraldine out. A group of neighborhood teens were at South Shore Park to swim.
Eighteen years old and recently out of seminary high school, Boziel asked 17-year-old Geraldine if she wanted to go dancing.
She abruptly said no, but as he returned from swimming, she approached him and asked if they could go see a show instead.
Boziel described the Sunday night they went to the movies: “She looked in my eyes, and I looked in hers, and that was it.”
Geraldine acknowledged it was “love at first sight,” while also expressing her own sense of initiative.
The young couple dated for two years before marrying in November 1950, but Ed recounted how, while he was laying tile with his future father-in-law, Geraldine came up and announced to them both, “We’re getting married Nov. 18.”
“You never asked me,” Ed repeated his reaction and Geraldine’s response that followed – simply that she didn’t have to – and they both laughed.
The Boziels say they miss the simpler days of the past, the beautiful, peaceful country they were raised in, with different predominant values where family came first and marriage as a lifelong commitment was a given.
Their love story is not without hardship. Not long after the couple was married, Ed was called on the serve his country in the military and spent the next two years in Korea.
Geraldine lived right near her parents and had a job to keep her busy, but Ed chimed in that it wasn’t easy to miss two Christmases, two Thanksgivings and birthdays.
Today, the means of communication between servicemen and -women are nothing like “back then.” Letters were the spouses’ only way to communicate, and when things changed while the mail was en route, there was no quicker form of updating information sent home.
Boziel told his wife when to stop writing based on when he was expected to make his way back to the U.S.
Wait and wait and wait was all Geraldine could do when two weeks had passed beyond the date her husband expected to return.
“You didn’t get information like you do today,” she said. It was suggested she ask the Red Cross for help, but they informed the young bride they didn’t have any way of knowing where to try and contact Ed if he were en route.
The two were reunited two weeks later, one full month past his scheduled arrival.
The cause of his delay? Weather. What should have been a 12-day crossing, given it was January, took much longer – there were 60-foot swells and terrible, terrible storms, Boziel added. “Sicker than a dog,” he said, all they could do was pray, try to get some fresh air and keep a little food down.
Saying “only veterans can understand” stories like these, which the average person would not have ever encountered, Boziel was grateful to return to the same job with the Milwaukee County Park Commission.
In 1956, the couple welcomed the first of their two sons and life moved on – “the beautiful old days,” as Ed put it.
One of their two grandsons was involved in helping to pull off a small family surprise celebration for their November anniversary. Another unforeseen weather event – this time in their favor – allowed for a beautiful, 60-degree afternoon visiting near the beach.
Geraldine shared that their granddaughter-in-law arranged for the gift of a “beautiful keepsake” for the occasion – a papal blessing, which now hangs in their home’s dining room in a frame handcrafted by their grandson.
Asked about what advice they could give on marriage, the couple’s conversation moved back to differences in generational understanding and appreciation of what is important in life.
The Boziels mentioned respect, understanding the need take care of one’s physical health and to enjoy life, to enjoy the outdoors, a sense of community and positivity.
“You got hard times and good times,” said Geraldine, with Ed assenting in the background. “The good times override the bad ones, but everybody goes through that and you work yourself out of it. Nobody’s perfect.”
They also agreed, “Old age is not for sissies.” You have to be healthy in body and mind – take one day at a time and just do your best.