From hiking trips to caring for elderly parents, couple celebrates 35 years together

Waves of humid June heat can be seen rolling over the blacktop parking lot out the window as Pat and Tammi Pierce sit side-by-side in a cool booth at Panera Bread.

A shared drink perspires between the two of them, a beet-red shade of lipstick around the rim of the straw, as they discuss the past, and look forward to the future.

They’ve reached an interesting point of transition in their lives — one many can relate to — when familial roles change and new challenges arise. Careers comes to an end, free time becomes abundant and once full houses now sit empty and quiet. It’s a time of discovery, both for new hobbies and for learning about one’s self.

But through the ups and downs, the Pierces have been there for each other for nearly 35 years now — their anniversary is Monday. They’ve seen it all, from the birth of their daughter to Tammi’s parents coming down with dementia to Pat’s retirement last year at the age of 60. They aren’t necessarily the movers and shakers of the world that readers are accustomed to reading about in big headlines on newsprint. In reality, they’re just ordinary people trying to get by.

It hasn’t always been easy, but one thing that hasn’t changed throughout the years is their extraordinary positivity and belief that things will work out for the best.

Retired life

Pat retired on Oct. 3, 2016, from his position as a retail planner team lead after 40 years of working for the U.S. Postal Service. He had spent the first 20 years of his career as a mail carrier before moving into the administrative side of the job for the next 20 years.

Travel has always been a big part of their lives, so the family ventured to Playa del Carmen soon after his retirement. As a retirement gift, Tammi also bought Pat a new four-wheeler, which has helped him rediscover a passion for the outdoors that he didn’t get to enjoy as much during his working years. During the crappie spawn, he would get out and go fishing just about…

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