A long wait for marriage

8/20/1979 According to a 1977 report of the U.S. Bureau of the Census, the median age at first marriage in the United States is 23.8 for men and 21.3 for women.

These statistics could be viewed in one of two perspectives. The first is that many marry before these ages and at least 50 percent have done so by the time indicated. It has been generally acknowledged, for instance, that approximately 40 percent of the female population nationwide married before the end of the 19th year. Preparation for marriage therefore, for a significant proportion of the female population must be made during the teen years.

But a second perspective on these same statistics suggests something seldom considered in our youth-oriented culture: half the women marry after their 21st birthday and half the men marry after turning 24. While it is true that the most marry before turning 30 years of age, some will not marry until their 40s or 50s. Over the total life cycle, the vast majority (93 percent according to the same census report) will marry at some time during their life. The friends suggest, however that marriage will occur at differing times for individual men and women.

Consider the situation, for example, of Alice Jacklin of American Fork, Utah. At the age of 21, a time when most young women’s interests focus on marriage, Alice was looking over the available young men in her community.

On Nov. 16, six months after her 21st birthday, tragedy struck the Jacklin family, Alice’s parents, John and Martha Jacklin, had arisen early and gone to Salt Lake City. Alice had stayed at home with her younger brothers and sisters. Two other sisters, Kilen ad Matilda, were away teaching school and an older brother, Raymond, was married. Late that evening the Jacklin children received word that their parents had been in an automobile accident. Alice and Raymond left immediately to investigate and found their father had been critically injured. They also learned that their mother, Martha had been killed.

In the grief-filled days that followed, the Jacklin family regrouped their resources as is often the case in times of crisis. And as time went by it seemed that more and more of the responsibility of “mother” fell on young Alice. Her father, John, was bedridden for several moths and the youngest child, Mary Jane was only 2 years old. But Alice and the children helped care for their injured father and the toddler, Mary Jane, as best they could.

So at age 21, Alice became a single parent mother to her six younger brothers and sisters. And one by one her closest friends began to marry and later have children. But what of her own marriage. . . and children? She somehow believed they both would come . . . in due time.

Alice’s younger brothers and sisters also began to grow up as the months and then the years went by. They too, began to marry and have children of their own and Alice became “grandmother” to may of the youngsters. Little Mary Jane was growing too. Could it be that Alice’s youngest sister, 19 years her junior, would marry before she would?

The years did pass by and Mary Jane grew to womanhood and married. By this time Alice was 37 years old and still anticipating the opportunity to marry and have children. It was 16 years since her mother had died, leaving the responsibility of rearing the family to Alice. Still, she waited for marriage. In due time.

We sometimes believe that love, romance and marriage only occur in the late teens or early 20s. Bt as the recent census report indicates, such is not always the case, as was evidenced in the life of Alice Jacklin. At the age of 38 she met and later married Cecil O. Day, age 42, from San Luis Obispo, Calif., where they made their home. They both learned, as have numerous others, that marriage can be meaningful no matter when it happens in life.

Even though Alice had already reared her younger brothers and sisters to maturity, she and Cecil eagerly awaited the arrival of their own children. They waited as the months passed by. The months turned to years. Still no children. It was a difficult moment for both when they were advised by their doctor that they probably would not be able to have children on their own. She not only had to wait for marriage, but would she be deprived of motherhood? Somehow, sometime, she still believed this too, would occur.

Now in their forties, Cecil and Alice Day tried to be cheerful and helpful to others to help conceal some of their disappointment in not having a child. They opened their home to college students for boarding in the San Luis Obispo area. They also gave lodging and often assistance to others in need and thereby became “Dad” and “Skipper” to numerous young people over the years. While they did not have children of their own, they learned to enjoy the children of others. Then, they wait finally ended.

Cecil and Alice learned of an infant girl in a nearby hospital who was available for adoption. They applied to be the adoptive parents and endured several more months of waiting. Finally they were informed that the child could be theirs, and in her 40s Alice again became a mother, now to her own child.

Many people are grateful to the late Cecil O. Day and to Alice Jacklin Day, who again resides in American Fork. Both are remembered for their selflessness, their patience, and the kindness they have shown to so many during their lifetime. I, too, am among those many admirers. I was fortunate enough to meet and later marry their only child, Susan.

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