After 50 years, Suzy and Burt keep believin’

Renewal of vows.

Kate Marshall (center) helps Suzy and Burton Farbman renew their vows. (All photos with this column from Arieli Kinzer Photography.)

Last summer, I began pondering. Our Golden Anniversary was approaching. Burton and I had never renewed our vows.

Where to hold such a miraculous event? It was the height of the Zika virus scare. Travel maven son Andy said: “Somewhere with no Zika. Santa Fe?”

Soon after, at a dinner party, we sat with friends Kate Marshall and Justin Rashid. They started American Spoon. (Decades ago I interviewed Justin for an article on his divine jams, salsas and dried cherries.) Kate’s a talented painter and past mayor of Petoskey, MI. I mentioned our upcoming observance.

“I’ve married one couple,” Kate said. “Come to Santa Fe. I’ll do your service.”

Kate wasn’t overly experienced, I grant you. But she’s a cool chick. She was willing. She and Justin spend several weeks in Santa Fe every spring, and she knew the territory.

2 votes for Santa Fe? Godsign.

Months ahead, I coordinated dates with grandkids’ schedules. Called Casas de Santa Fe and booked casitas for the family. I signed up Casa Nova Catering, Absolute Entertainment and Arieli Photography.

A few days after our April 8th anniversary, Burton and I flew to Santa Fe with Nadine and the boys. (Rest of family came later.) We picked up keys to our casitas and followed the map, down a winding road to a tiny dirt lane barely wide enough for our rented GMC.

Our family likes nice accommodations. At the front gate of the first, I wondered why I’d dragged us across country to this dusty back road. Nadine and I gave each other a glance best described as: Oy vey.

“They looked good online,” I said.

Taking a breath, I turned the key. The interior was even better than the photo online. Hip southwestern architecture, Native American pottery, Navajo blankets, kiva fireplaces, soft linens, comfortable seating. There were bright tulips and a bag of fresh ground coffee. The other casitas, equally nice. Whew.

On to the main event.

After fun visits to the Farmers Market and Meow Wolf (a not-to-be-missed creative new interactive art installation) and a yummy Cuban Ruben at Café Palacio, I returned to our casita to rest. Phone calls. The DJ just got out of the hospital. The photographer had stomach flu. Both found replacements.

Memo to self: Go with the flow.

Kids showed up at our casita, took seats, and actually paid attention. DJ Victor played Pachelbel’s Canon in D. I step/paused/step/paused down the aisle. (Okay, around the corner.) Everyone stood.

Greeting Burton in front of the fireplace, I spoke. I recalled our 25th wedding anniversary party when I’d I told the story of the frogs on a dairy farm. Andy brought the story back from a teenage trip with National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) years ago. Now his daughter Alexis was almost 13.

2 frogs fall into a bucket of cream. They paddle and paddle but can’t get out. One says, “Face it. We’re history.” The other says, “We’ll think of something. Just keep paddling.” The pessimist sinks to the bottom and dies. The next morning, the optimistic frog is found to be sitting on a pad of butter he’s churned up all by himself, licking up the flies that swarm from all directions.

“The moral of the story,” I said, “and the way you stay married for 25 years, and in a heartbeat 25 more: keep…” Everyone chorused: “Paddling.” I thanked Burton for a life “beyond my wildest dreams.”

Burton said, “I don’t know when it happens, but at some point two people become one, committed for life.” He talked about recently cleaning our stuffed refrigerator, and how some foods were penicillin prone. “Suzy hates to throw anything out. That’s probably why I’m still here.”

Kate—whom we designated our Rabbi Pro Tem—isn’t Jewish. But she looked rabbinical in a black and white striped scarf that resembled a tallit (Jewish pverayer shawl). Kate said, “No one else shares the same joy you feel in your family. You’ve faced struggles together. You’ overcome struggles together. 50 years later, you remain husband and wife not because of a legal document, but because you still want to be by each other’s side.”

We repeated the best known sentence from the “Song of Songs” by King Solomon. We’d first spoken it at our wedding. “Ani L’Dodi, V’Dodi Li. I am my beloved’s; my beloved is mine.”

Our whole family mentioned something they appreciate about us. David: “So many fun moments. Always encouraging me to be my best.” Nadine: “Blessed to be part of such a special family.“ Amy: “You put family first.” Andy: “Santa Fe’s the perfect synthesis of Dad, the cowboy, and Mom, the artist.”

Fischer, our youngest, brought us rings on a Kilim pillow. (Fact: We borrowed Andy’s ring. Burton’s ADD and a golfer and lost more than one of his own.)

The DJ cranked up the music and we danced for 2 hours, only breaking to attack a delicious southwestern buffet. Chef Eduardo apologized that the planned maple cream cake had collapsed on the first and second tries. The baker had been in tears. (Creating a dessert that’s gluten, lactose and chocolate free is a challenge.) His 3 non-dairy cheesecake substitutes were still a hit.

Italian author Cesare Pavese once said, “We do not remember days, we remember moments.”

Burton and Suzy dance at renewal celebration.

I loved having our whole family together, relishing each other’s company, creating such a moment. What joy to renew our vows in the presence of children and grandchildren, none of whom were there originally. At times in the past, I never expected to get this far.

Even with a replacement photographer, DJ and dessert, the evening was perfect. Our sons and their wives agreed on the final song. That was perfect, too. It was written by the rock group Journey in the 1980s and references Detroit, our hometown. It became a theme song of the TV show “Glee.”

“Don’t Stop Believin’.”

We loved having our family around us at the celebration.

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64 thoughts on “After 50 years, Suzy and Burt keep believin’

  1. John Rakolta Jr

    May God continue to fill your life with more love and happiness. It’s been a marvelous journey with the both of you.

    John & Terry

  2. Suzy Farbman Post author

    Thanks, Heide and Hugo. Such a sweet message. Best wishes back at you.

  3. Suzy Farbman Post author

    as emailed from Heide Ralli
    We love your zest for life and celebrations. 50 years together is a huge accomplishment. Congratulations from the bottom of our hearts.

  4. Suzy Farbman Post author

    Thanks, Lynn. Such a super comment. You helped pull us through one of those times when I doubted I’d make it to our 50th.

  5. Suzy Farbman Post author

    As emailed from Lynn Buehler
    I read this post recently and loved, loved, loved it. Knowing you two as I do, I felt like I was there with you and celebrating like crazy in my head! Rock it like there’s no tomorrow.

  6. Suzy Farbman Post author

    Thanks so much, Nancy. If a column elicits laughter and tears, I consider it a home run. Appreciate your saying so.

  7. Suzy Farbman Post author

    as emailed from Nancy Kaltenbach
    I absolutely loved your 50th celebration story. Laughed and cried! Thank you for sharing such a tender and memorable story.

  8. Jonny Imerman

    Suzy you are AWESOME!! love what you’ve given to others!! and love the Farbs fam pic whoop whoop! y’all look GOOD!! big hugs and love and positive energy! 🙂 love jonny

    1. Suzy Farbman Post author

      Thanks for the lovely message, Jon. Talk about giving to others–you are the champ of that. Imerman’s Angels helps so many cancer patients to cope. Such a gift.

  9. Susan Martin

    The story of your very special time tickled my heart…and the photo of all of the relaxed and happy family members put a smile on my face that remains even as I write. May the Farbman’s be forever blessed! God’s sign is that He too is smiling! Love, Your Vermont Susan

    1. Suzy Farbman Post author

      Thank you, my dear Vermont Susan. Such a thoughtful comment. So glad you enjoyed. Keep smiling.

  10. Suzy Farbman Post author

    as emailed from Donna Slatkin
    Bob and I loved your column. What a special celebration with your beautiful family. We want you to know how much we treasure our long time friendship.

    1. Suzy Farbman Post author

      Thanks for your thoughtful lovely comment, Donna. We treasure our friendship with you as well. Lots of history.

  11. Kay and Michael Melet

    Suzy and Burton…loved reading about your 50th celebration surrounded by all of your family. That makes it so perfect! We wish you so many more HEALTHY years together…we know you know how to make the years ahead FUN. Much happiness always. With our love, Michael and Kay

    1. Suzy Farbman Post author

      Thanks, honey. So sweet of you to reply with such good wishes. Glad you enjoyed. Just wish your sister Bobbye were around to celebrate her 50th. Stay healthy.

  12. Suzy Farbman Post author

    as emailed from Pam Good
    Layers and layers of beautiful. Thank you for sharing these tender loving moments with your family.

  13. Suzy Farbman Post author

    Thanks, Gretchen. Wanted to send this column to your mom, but Heaven’s not on my speed dial. So glad you enjoyed. Thanks for the very sweet comment.

  14. Suzy Farbman Post author

    as emailed from Gretchen Klein
    I just LOVED reading this and looking at the pictures. The house looks stunning as do all of you. Continue enjoying every second and don’t stop believin’!

  15. Benjamin Pratt

    Burton and Suzy,
    My sincerest congratulations on your 50th celebration. Keep dancing with joy OR keep paddling and churning beautiful butter. Love the frog parable!

  16. Suzy Farbman Post author

    Thanks, Sissi, Such fun to hear from you. I just wish you were on this side of the pond more often. Or we were on yours. Appreciate your lovely message.

  17. Suzy Farbman Post author

    as emailed from Sissi Schaad-Jackson
    You two are simply the best. You describe every detail with so much love and heart. I wish you mega tons of joy and fun for the future!

  18. Delin Bru

    Suzy and Burton are really God signs to each other and to us that follow their example .
    Al and I wish you eternal love
    And more blessings to both and your beautiful family .

    1. Suzy Farbman Post author

      Thank you, honey. Such a joy to have you as a reader and an amiga, and to share your stories as well. Blessings back at you.

  19. Lynne

    What a woderful way to celebrate with your entire family. Truly a very special time for a very special couple. Congratulations on 50 years-a remarkable journey❤️

    1. Suzy Farbman Post author

      Thanks, honey. You’ve been there most every step, slice and hook of the way!

  20. Linda Milne

    Wow – fantastic! What a beautiful event! I have such great admiration for you both – and for your wonderful sons and grandkids! Love you!

    1. Suzy Farbman Post author

      Thanks, Linda. Appreciate your comment. That admiration is a 2 way street!

  21. Hope Palmer

    Suzy, Even though far away with not much interaction over the last years each missive from you immediately brings me closer to you and your family. I see your joys, feel your tears, rejoice in your triumphs and fifty years of living together is no small feat. Your imagination and love for family and friends intricately weaves the magic. Keep on makin’ butter. Love Hope

    1. Suzy Farbman Post author

      Love your comment, Hope. Miss our walks, talks and drives together but know you’re loving life and being ever creative in San Miguel. Thanks for your very sensitive thoughts. I’ll keep making butter as long as you keep making mantequilla. Big hugs.

    1. Suzy Farbman Post author

      Thanks for the comment. I’m thrilled as well. It’s been quite a roller coaster ride for all of us. So blessed to have you in my life.

  22. Pat Fowler

    Loved your story…congratulations on your wonderful 50 years. Great seeing you both in Sarasota.

    1. Suzy Farbman Post author

      Enjoyed our evening with you as well. thanks for the sweet comment. C’mon back!

  23. Anne Hanna

    A beautiful description of a very special event – honoring your love and being together! Congratulations!

    1. Suzy Farbman Post author

      Thanks, Anne. Such fun to hear from a friend I’ve known even longer than 40 years!

  24. Sandra Seligman

    I love every second of your story and watching it as a movie ! True special family I’m thrilled to feel part of .👍🏻🍀💋The best warmest loving . 💋💋💋

    1. Suzy Farbman Post author

      And made all the more so by the fun, adventurous, exhausting and inspiring times we’ve had together. Thanks, honey. Big Hugs back.

  25. David Farbman

    This is an awesome blog. It’s real, it’s accurate and it’s very well written! Love you! Amazing weekend! Amazing couple and pretty cool family if I do say so myself! Xo, me

    1. Suzy Farbman Post author

      We love our boys beyond the moon, beyond Mars, waaaay into the farthest off distant galaxies. Thanks for the very sweet comment and for your major role in making our Golden shine so brightly. xoxo Mom

  26. Gail Shulman

    Congratulations to you both! Enjoyed the story and the picture of your family! Relish each moment you have together.

    1. Suzy Farbman Post author

      Thanks, Gail. Such a joy to hear from you. Appreciate your comment.

  27. Sonora

    Sorry I am in tears!! I hope one day, I can experiance love,Joy and laughter with someone just as special. You give girls like me Hope…Thank you

  28. Proctors

    Felt very privileged to be on this distribution list….we wish you many more years of happiness, and thank you for your friendship which has done so much to enhance the pleasure of our visits to Sarasota and to Laurel Oak.
    Keep clocking up the years!
    Lynne and Stephen

  29. Ginny

    50 years is indeed a milestone, and you and Burton celebrated in style
    with your beautiful family. I wish you many more years of love and
    happiness and paddling together.

  30. Suzy Farbman Post author

    as emailed from Marilyn Silver
    After reading the NY Times, the Sarasota paper and the Longboat Observer, this column finished first.

    1. Suzy Farbman Post author

      Thanks, Marilyn. At this rate, we may qualify for Love Stories TV, septuagenarian version! 🙂

    2. Ginger

      Great column, Suzy! Santa Fe was indeed the perfect place for the Cowboy and the Artist to celebrate such a wonderful event of the heart. (I like Andy’s observation of the third GodSign.) What ever you do, don’t stop belivin’ –the journey goes on. Love you! <3

  31. Suzie Sunshine :)

    “No one else shares the same joy you feel in your family, ” but I came close when reading this. You embody joy itself. Thank you for sharing your journey. With much love. xoxox

  32. Denise

    Beautiful story. Teared up a few times. Beautiful photo of a family I love. Thank you for sharing your lives with me and so many others. Love and hugs to all.

  33. Tonia Victor

    Suzy, what a wonderful event🌹! You are teachings us all about the the “staying power” . Thank you for sharing. Much love,

    1. Suzy Farbman Post author

      Thanks, David, for making me look so good. Ours is a mutual admiration society.

  34. anne

    The whole story made me smile with my heart. I heard that in a song years ago and thought it was so perfect relating in family gatherings. I hope that Burton gets down on his knees each day and thanks God for you. Happy Anniversary dear friend.

    1. Suzy Farbman Post author

      Thank you, dear friend. Maybe that’s why Burton’s knees are bone on bone! Thanks for the very sweet comment.

  35. Peggy Daitch

    Suzy and Burt
    I love this story! I’m all ‘ferklempt’. What a perfect way to celebrate 50 years! Mazel Tov!

  36. Marilyn Connor

    Beautiful celebration of love! Congratulations dear friends. Amazing life of paddling❤️

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