The View From A Slightly Twisted Angle

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Golden Examples

on November 2, 2012

Today is my parents’ 50th anniversary.  We have plans to celebrate as a family this weekend.  That is all my parents wanted. No big reception with fancy cake. No glittering gold dress and flowers, though I tried to talk my mom into a gold dress.  She wasn’t having it. No card shower or big deal.  They just want to spend time with their kids and grandkids. Quiet. Simple. Sweet.  It is so like them. (I may still have to go buy some gold napkins though.)

My parents met on a blind date set up by friends who were dating each other. Though my mom thought my dad was a nice guy she was in love with someone else at the time so she really wasn’t interested.  My father, however, was apparently interested.  According to a story my grandfather liked to tell, “He came home that night and told us, ‘I’m going to marry that girl.'”  I should insert here that my grandpa liked to embellish stories a bit so that may have happened several months later. Or not at all.  Grandpa was cute.   Whether my dad decided that night that he’d met his future wife or not is not as important as the fact that he did decide he liked her, a lot, that night.  My dad is relentless.  Ask my mom.  According to her, “He just wouldn’t go away after that.”   He pursued and she fell in love.  They got engaged. (That’s the condensed story by the way.)As the wedding approached my father, who was in the Air Force at the time, was stationed in Louisiana.  My mother finished nurses training and planned their wedding in Council Bluffs.  Then word came that my father was not going to be granted leave.  He was stuck in Louisiana for at least a year.  According to what my mom told me my uncle, who is 12 years her junior, suggested that since they had the wedding all ready to go she should just go find another guy to marry.  My mom didn’t listen to her little brother.  Instead she ditched her wedding plans and went to Louisiana to get married rather than wait.  They got married quietly: my mom in a pretty brown dress rather than a wedding gown and my dad in his uniform.  Their witnesses were acquaintances rather than long time friends.   Fifty years ago this evening my parents journey together began without a lot of pomp or ceremony. No grand wedding or big reception. All these years later it would appear that not having a big wedding didn’t affect the marriage itself.

As I think about my parents starting out as a young Air Force couple fifty years ago today I have to smile and wonder if they realized at the time all of the things life would bring them.  Probably not.  Who does?  They couldn’t have known how many times they’d be asked to move or that my dad would be stationed in Turkey when my brother was born.  They wouldn’t have thought about eventually ending up on my grandparents farm to raise their family. The thought of one day being grandparents would have made them laugh.  I’m sure life just unfolded before them as it does for everyone else: one day at a time.  Fifty years of days.  It is what my parents have done in those days that I want to celebrate today.  They are incredible people who have lived lives that they wouldn’t see as incredible. They wouldn’t see it but I have.

In these years they raised us kids with unconditional love and unending wisdom.  They’ve cheered for our triumphs, comforted us in tragedies and supported us through it all. Their rock steady relationship and love was the ground on which our family was built. I don’t ever remember them fighting.  I’m sure they did but I don’t remember it.  As I look back I don’t remember anything but a place where I was safe to grow up. A place where they loved me through my rebellious teen years. A place where I could be who I was and they were going to love me anyway.  That place is still very much there for all of us.  As the years have passed our family has changed.  They’ve welcomed a daughter-in-law, two sons-in-law and eleven grandchildren with joy: none more important than the others but all equally loved and supported.  They are amazing grandparents. Ones who  make sure they attend every sporting event, recital, concert, grandparent program – you name it – that they can so that their grandchildren know how much they love them. It’s who they are. Who they have always been.

Lest I make them out to be some charmed fictional characters I must say that life has not always been simple.  Or even easy.  Twice the plants where my father worked were closed forcing them into uncertain times as he searched for new jobs.  My mother’s long-term job at the hospital was eventually eliminated.  They faced caring for and eventually saying goodbye to their parents.  They eventually had to adjust to retirement and figure out how to be around each other all the time. ( That has been more amusing to the rest of us than I probably should admit.)  They’ve both had a hip replaced.  My mom fought breast cancer (and won!).  No, their life has not been charmed but through it all they worked together, faced what needed to be faced and kept on going.  Were there sad days? Sure.  Bad days? You bet.  Days when they felt like giving up? I’m sure. The point, however, is that they haven’t.  In a day and age when quitting is so much easier and accepted than fighting on it’s pretty remarkable.  Fifty years of facing each day together is something that deserves to be honored.

My mother called me yesterday to check in and to talk about plans for Thanksgiving and this weekend.  Toward the end of the conversation she said in her “pseudo exasperated” voice, “Just a minute. Your father wants to say something.”  Suddenly my father’s voice is on the phone, “Just thought you’d like to know that today is the fiftieth anniversary of getting our marriage licence.”  My mom, grabbing the phone back, followed up with, “I probably should have run.”

I’m so glad she didn’t because I’ve been so blessed  to be one of their kids and have the honor of learning from their golden example.


4 responses to “Golden Examples

  1. javaj240 says:

    So nice. My parents have been married over 40 years. God willing, they will make it to 50 and beyond!

  2. What a beautiful story!!! Love it!!

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