Libby and Mike were married on May 23, 1964, in Evanston, Illinois. At the time, both were working and they had no long-term plans; children, home ownership and the future were not in the forefront of their lives. Like many young couples, life was day-to-day. Thoughts of "big" wedding anniversaries (25, 50, beyond) didn't cross their minds...
Perhaps that's how it should be, and when their 25th Anniversary approached, that's when they started to plan to "do something". "25" was a big deal (Mike was amazed that many years had actually passed), and both wanted to do some sort of vacation trip.
Mutual friends, Joanne and Larry Backs, travelled a lot (!), and when Mike and Libby started considering an ocean cruise (a somewhat conventional idea), they had no idea where to start. The Backs' had been on many cruises, so Libby and Mike went to dinner with Joanne and Larry to get informed. Mike and Libby knew enough to be wary of many things: costs, seasickness, food protocol, tipping, accomodations, apparel, boarding and disembarking procedures - all scary things for first-time "sailors".
The evening was very informative, and Mike was especially put at ease (he doesn't like to experience new things). Larry and Joanne suggested a 1 week Hawaiian cruise, because it was domestic and would provide all the mechanics without the stresses of oversea travel and locales (English spoken all around). Rather important was clothing, both formal and casual, that they'd need for a cruise of that size and duration. The "Captain's Dinner", table pairings, when to dress up and not, etc. were concerns. If they were to go, Mike would have to have a tuxedo...
Mike and Libby decided to do this, and the Backs' gave them some pointers on how and when to book the vacation. They prepared as best they could, flew to Honolulu, and spent a couple of days in a hotel on Waikiki Beach. They had some friends they knew from the neighborhood that had moved to Honolulu (Mike and Janice O'Brien), and they hooked up with them to get a little "local flavor" before they sailed. This was a good thing, because a cruise offers many shore excursions (too many to experience), so advice from the O'Briens was useful there, too.
Married 50 years...now there's a real accomplishment, given the deteriorating nature of marriage over the years that Libby and Mike have been together. Honestly, Mike didn't give such a "mark" any real thought, even though his parents had been married for almost that long themselves. It was just hard to imagine such a thing, much less living that long...
Even so, year-by-year, month-by-month, and day-by-day, the realization of their union (and themselves!) surviving that long became iminent, and they found themselves talking about what it meant and how to commerate the occasion. By then, they were well established in Phoenix, but they had moved out of the high rise penthouse condo and were working to become part of a new neighborhood and neighbors. Money was somewhat tight, as the "downsizing" to a smaller ground-level house involved significant costs to renovate a house that had been mostly untoughed since its construction in 1978, It needed a lot of work to bring it to Libby's plan: it was certainly their last home.
With a lot on their "plate" at the time, Libby and Mike decided that going back to Hawaii was an easy choice: they agreed it was a place to be revisited in some way. Another cruise wasn't as appealing as going to the one island, Kauai, they especially enjoyed on their 25th anniversary trip, so they started thinking of just going there. Interestingly, Libby had a long-time client who spends a lot of time vacationing on Kauai, and he encouraged them to comsider staying at his favorite resort there. In fact, he offered to use some of his acquired "points" to help them defray some of the costs...as a gift.
They started looking into flights and dates around their anniversary, but found the costs beyond their current situation, and their dream was fading. Libby's client, Dr. Todd Wilcox, asked her hows the anniversary plans were going, and she had to admit that even with help at the resort they weren't able to "swing it". He then offered to pay for their entire stay with his points - an extraordinary gift! He said that he wanted such an occasion to be very special.
When Libby told Mike of this development, he broke down in tears, as he realized what an impact her business had on her clients...and their lives. This wonderful gesture paved the way for their trip, and plans were finalized.
The frenzy of trip preparation took over their lives, especially their social activities. Mike was pretty sure that Regan and Becky didn't recognize the importance of this event, and there was no contact from either daughter that hinted they were planning any sort of tribute event that might have seemed appropriate. With no such plan, they asked if "Mom and Dad" would meet them for dinner...yet their inconsistent work schedules were making that unlikely. Instead, a couple Mike knew from his airport Navigators called to invite them to join them for dinner in a local restaurant. This seemed to work well, because it fell on a night that a failed dinner with their girls opened up. They were joined by John Carpenter's wife, Judie, a mutual friend of the Millers': another innocent bit of serendipity.
The dinner at the restaurant went normally (Mike had considered the possibility of a surprise party at the restaurant...which didn't happen), and Judie asked if Mike and Libby could take her home. She said she had purchased a new bed and wanted Libby's advice on dealing with a problem she had with the sheets for it. This was okay, because the Millers had to make a stop at her sister's house to deal with some personal issue there. Following dinner, the couples split up, and Mike and Libby drove Judie home to look at her bedding problem.