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A good wife, a good cook, a good faith make for good marriage

Posted By November 3, 2011 | 1:04 pm | Lead Story #2
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By Tanya Connor

What makes a good marriage?
When asked that this week, Henry Shimkoski got right to the point: “Get a good wife.”
He got right to the second point too: His wife, Theresa Shimkoski, is a good cook.
When she teased him for his focus on his stomach, he defended himself: “She kept me alive.”
Said Mrs. Shimkoski, “I spoiled him.”
Her recipe for a good marriage?
“Just be good to each other.”
Whatever they’ve done seems to have worked. Hailing from St. Stephen Parish in Worcester, they were the longest-married couple at the annual diocesan Wedding Anniversary Mass Sunday at St. Paul Cathedral, according to Allison LeDoux, director of the diocesan Office of Marriage and Family. She called out the number of years couples in the congregation had been married, beginning with 18 years. When she got to 70, the Shimkoskis rose.
Raymond and Irene Alukas, also of St. Stephen’s, also celebrating their 70th anniversary this year, were scheduled to be there too, but did not make it, Mrs. LeDoux said. (She said it appeared that was the case with half the couples scheduled to be honored at the Mass, which was held despite a snow storm that left thousands without power.)
Bishop McManus praised all the couples for the witness of their fidelity, which he said society desperately needs, when 50 percent of marriages end in divorce.
“You take each other for better or for worse,” something dismissed as hopelessly out of fashion in today’s society, he said. “So in the name of the Church, I thank you for your life together.”
“This last anniversary Mass was like getting married all over again,” Mr. Shimkoski said later. Other years he and his wife attended alone, but this year nearly their whole family came, he said. He and other family members named the states 61 relatives came  from for the occasion: California, Texas, Nevada, Arizona, Virginia, Maryland, and, of course, Massachusetts.
His wife explained that they also had a party Sunday at the Worcester home of their niece Sharon Beaudet and her husband, Thomas, planned by their daughter, Elaine Noe, and her husband, James, from Virginia.        “I think that the whole thing is about celebrating these guys,” said Erin Piwowarski, who came in from Dallas with her daughters, Teresa and Emma Slettebo. “It’s a privilege to be their granddaughter.”
“They’re just so good to us,” she replied. “Our whole lives we’ve known we’re the most important thing to them. And Grandma makes really good meatballs too.”
“I love them,” Teresa, 11, said of her great-grandparents, proceeding to hug them.
Mrs. Shimkoski said she loves her grandchildren.
“You can tell by all the pictures,” said Teresa, referring to displays hanging on the wall or sitting on a flat surface in the Shimkoskis’ home.
Mr. Shimkoski too said he is so blessed by his two children, 10 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren (make that 19; two great-grandchildren are due in the coming months).
“I felt like a big shot over there,” he said of the party.
Well, isn’t he?
“I am a big shot,” agreed the man who turns 94 in November. (His wife is 89). “I want to catch up with my grandfather. My grandfather was 100.”
Asked for his comment, the Shimkoskis’ son, Dennis Shimkoski, of Auburn, asked a question of his own, “Where would I begin?” Visiting his parents with his wife, Colleen Shimkoski, he said he has many grandchildren, but no great-grandchildren yet.
“Thanks to these two people, there’s a good start,” he said of his parents.
His parents said they married Dec. 27, 1941 at St. Anne Parish in Shrewsbury.
“I was in the service,” Mr. Shimkoski said. “I was lucky to get married. “We were ready to go overseas when I got married. I wanted to get married before that, but I couldn’t get a leave from the post.”
“The priest said when he got his leave, he would marry us,” Mrs. Shimkoski said.
She admitted it was hard; she was a few months pregnant by the time her husband left Fort Bragg in North Carolina for what is now the Kingdom of Morocco in North Africa. Some months later, he learned – via letter – that he had a daughter.
But they persevered – for 70 more years. To what do they attribute their long marriage?
“Longevity,  I guess,” said Mr. Shimkoski.
“I took good care of you,” his wife informed him.
Did he take good care of her too?
“Well, I tried,” responded the tease. “I didn’t get in her way when she washed the floors.” He also sang to her each morning, the couple said.
What advice would they give couples getting married today?
“A lot of them don’t get married today,” responded Mr. Shimkoski. “They just don’t go to church; that’s the whole problem.” He admitted he and his wife don’t get there often anymore (he no longer drives), but they watch Mass on television and sometimes a priest comes to the house.
How does their faith affect their marriage?
“It makes your marriage stronger, I think,” Mr. Shimkoski said. “We know we have our Creator and we know we have a place to go to after it’s over.” He said his wife keeps a candle lit and always says the rosary.
Mrs. Shimkoski said she doesn’t feel right if she doesn’t light her candle. And, if she doesn’t finish her rosary before bed, she takes it with her.
“When I wake up my finger is still on that bead,” she said.
“My mother used to go to church every day,” Mr. Shimkoski said. “She set the example for me.”
Again offering his views of marriage he said, “Love is the whole thing; if there’s no love, there’s no marriage.”