50 Years

Cathy ZielskeCZ Life39 Comments


On Sunday, the entire Zielske family and a host of relatives and friends gathered in Southern Minnesota (North Morristown, to be precise) to celebrate Dan's parents' 50th wedding anniversary.

Joan and Dan wanted to celebrate at home on their 100-plus-year-old farm and all of the siblings and wives and husbands and significant others helped to take care of the details to make it happen.

The farm looked simply pastoral:



The weather was cooperative, if not a shade on the sticky side, and the good predominantly German Lutheran guests ate pasta salads, drank their ice cold beers and mingled under the shade of a giant white tent.



There I am with my lovely (and much tanner than me) sisters-in-law, Deb, Joy and Anne.


There's me with my dashing better half.


And there, of course, is Cole with a llama.


But that's a story for another day…

The real story was celebrating 50 years of marriage. I've talked about my in-laws from time to time here on my blog. Dan has been a preacher for his entire adult life, retired now, but still stepping in for pastors here and there who need a fill in. Joan, aside from being a teacher and raising 6 kids, is also an accomplished organist, and has spent many a Sunday playing for the congregations to whom Dan has preached.

The siblings decided to put together a short program to honor Joan and Dan, and provide a little entertainment for the guests. We all worked on adding some Joan-and-Dan-specific lyrics to well known TV-theme show songs. From Gilligan's Island to The Brady Bunch, we worked our Zielske magic to bring some wide smiles to our guest of honor's faces.

I didn't even think to have someone film us singing. Aidan had the photography covered (she took all of the photos you see on this blog post, which explains why she's not showing up in any!) But Cole decided to film the last of our four songs using his new birthday camera. Way to go, Cole!

We tailored our various songs to different times in Joan and Dan's lives. The Gilligan's Island song covered their courting, marriage, and diving into parenthood. The Brady Bunch song covered life with 7 people. The Love Boat song covered Joan and Dan's years as foster parents. And the last song, the theme from All in the Family, was hoping to cover their influence, their service, and their legacy.

Joan and Dan don't do a lot of horn tooting, but they have spent countless hours of their lives in service to others. One simple example? They've gone down to Mississippi and Louisiana, not once, but several times since Katrina, and they are still helping people rebuild their homes and lives. This is part of their passion for life and it's inspiring. It's just what they do and who they are.

With that, I leave you with our short but sweet version of "Those Were the Days"…Zielske-style.

(My sincere apologies to Jean Stapleton.)

Cathy Zielske50 Years

39 Comments on “50 Years”

  1. #1


    My folks are celebrating their 50th in May — and reading your post got my wheels turning.

    Not to mention that they look so good, and what amazing people. Thanks for sharing just a snip of their story. Inspiring!!!

  2. #7
    c@rol w

    When I first looked at the photo of Cole and the llama, I got a chuckle because it looked like the llama had a unicorn horn! LOL Are you sure that’s not a unillama??? llamacorn?? unillamacorn? (Obviously, it’s early and I need more sleep!)

    God bless your inlaws… that’s awesome… 50 years. 🙂

  3. #11
    Kay Gregory-Clark

    What fun! Reminds me of the party I went to yesterday for my friend’s 80th birthday. Her kids are very creative and created song parodies too, along with a HUGE collage printed on canvas and framed and many other wonderful things. Isn’t it great to belong to such creative families and groups of friends? Love the pic of Cole and the llama—waiting for the story and why he looked so pained!

  4. #12

    Looks like you had a wonderful day. A “Golden” day. What a milestone. I always put down a song for the day in my Nike notes and today it was – Let’s Stay Together – Al Green. Appropriate for your post. (BTW – saw you on the 50+ challenge. I love doing these challenges. I signed up for the states challenge too.)

  5. #13

    Wonderful! I’d love to hear more or at the very least read the words to the other songs. And whoever was doing the “Jean” did a great job.

  6. #14
    Kasandra Mathieson

    Cathy….what a beautiful post, thanks for sharing your life and your family with us! Tell Aidan and Cole they did a stupendous job on capturing the moments….the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree! lol.

  7. #18
    Christine Campbell

    Awww Cathy, that’s sooo sweet and too cute!!! Great idea too!! My grandparents’ 60th is next year. It would be nice to come up with something fun like that to do for them. Congrats to your inlaws!!!

  8. #19

    Congrats to Joan and Dan on their 50 years together. Wonderful – just wonderful. And what else was wonderful? ? ? That tribute song. Loved it.

    And what is another wonderful thing you ask? That farm!!! That’s where I want to go when I’m married 50 years!! (16 more years to go)

  9. #22

    What a wonderful tribute to your in-laws! Great job of celebrating 50 years and lots of love! Thanks for sharing with us.

  10. #25

    Love the good German Lutheran harmonizing at the end of the song. Congratulations to the Rev and Mrs Z. I love to hear stories like this.

  11. #27

    The good German Lutheran harmonizing got me, too. lol! That was simply amazing. The song, the video, everything. Thanks for sharing!

  12. #28

    What a great legacy to all future Zielskes!! Sounds like a wonderful celebration. Kudos to Aidan for the beautiful photos, and way to go Cole!! Truly a family affair 🙂

  13. #30
    Susan Bowers

    Oh my congratulations to pass on! I get goose bumps when I hear about longevity marriages. Truly inspiring! This year would have been my parent’s 50th too but my dad passed in April so I know the feeling of awe and celebration.

  14. #31

    I love this post… the photos, the song captured on video, the gardens, the llama, the stories of a truly impressive couple… your kids with cameras… the love. You are truly blessed, Cathy.

  15. #35
    amy j.

    Congrats on 50!! When my husband’s parents reached that milestone I remember thinking, “Wow, that’s a LONG time to put up with another person.” LOL

    But I aspire…only 30 more to go for me and my ole man, lol.

    I adore that first photo that Aidan took. In years to come that will be a much treasured photo. My father in law passed away a year and a half ago, so I can attest to how very special these types of photos are. What a wonderful family!

  16. #36

    Cole has inspired me to grab that Flip camera more often and take some videos of my dear family. I’m SO glad your family is not camera-shy. Think of the moments we’d miss if they insisted, “I hate having my picture taken,” or “I don’t know what to say. Put the video cam down.” (Do you hear me, Mom?)

    And 50 years together is indeed something to celebrate. God bless you all.

  17. #37

    What a wonderful inspiration they are. The beautiful garden photos make me feel a little homesick though 🙁

  18. #39
    Diane Herrington

    What a beautiful family and what a blessing to have your inlaws – healthy and happy. They sound like wonderful people


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *