Today is my parents 38th wedding anniversary. It’s easy for me to remember how many years because they married in March of 1977 and we were married 30 years later in March of 2007. It’s difficult for me to imagine being married for almost 40 years. The world we live in certainly doesn’t make it easy, and although things have never been perfect, I’m so very proud of them for sticking it out, still being friends, and being the most amazing parents a girl could ask for.
It’s hard to believe it was 23 years ago today, on their 15th anniversary, that we were running around the house following my mom as she uncovered 15 gifts, one for each year, hidden around the house. Dad was always so creative like that. The 15th gift was a heart necklace that had 15 tiny diamonds all the way around. That year we had a Mexican fiesta for dinner with decorations and virgin margaritas for us kids. Every year we got presents too, and dad would wrap them days ahead of time and put them in the living room to taunt us! My favorite gifts were my PJ Sparkles doll, she was amazing and upon looking her up for reference I just discovered she’s almost $400 on amazon…face palm on not saving that toy!…and my little electronic puppy on a leash (which mom wouldn’t let me walk outside because it was white and I would get it dirty…hello its a dog!) It seems like yesterday that 13 years ago we celebrated their 25th with all their friends and family, surprising them with a party where we even had their wedding cake recreated. And, of course, eight years ago weeks away from their 30th when I myself was married and they gave me away to a man they now lovingly refer to as, their son.
They both, in their own way, broke a cycle as parents. Neither of them had an ideal childhood, certainly not one they wished to see repeated. My mother actually was fearful of having children at all, afraid she wouldn’t be able to be a good mother since she was never shown how. My dad was given a little more love growing up, but with an absent Naval officer for a father, who was stern and distant when he was home, he was lacking. Of course he loved his parents, but he knew he was going to do things differently, they both did.
When mom found out she was pregnant with my sister, she called my dad in a panic asking “What are we going to do?!” He simply replied, “We’re going to have a baby.” They did, and 34 years later they have two grown daughters who grew up in a house filled with reading, adventure, laughter, spirituality, and love. The older I get and the more I learn about the world and other people’s stories, the more I am grateful. Grateful for the “bubble” that I lived in. Money was tight but I never knew it, I was clothed, fed, went on vacations, and pretty much got whatever I wanted (within reason). There was never any family drama or fights that I was privy to, nobody ever cursed or smoked in my presence, and we were only surrounded by people who loved us, and most importantly, loved God. We sat around the dinner table every night to a home cooked meal prepared by my mother who had worked a full day and before bed we were read a story by my father who had worked all day and must have been so exhausted.
As a kid in Jacksonville Florida my dad watched on the news as they opened Walt Disney World just a few short hours away. Despite begging their father to take them, he never did and so my father, promised himself that he would take his kids one day. He saved for years and years with a special Disney savings account and meticulously planned the perfect jam-packed Disney experience. A few months before we were supposed to leave, the opportunity came up for them to purchase their first home, but they didn’t have enough money to cover a down payment and closing costs. They could have easily dipped into the Disney fund, but they didn’t. Instead, they scrimped and saved, selling everything they could think of, including most of my mother’s precious antiques. Then off we went to Disney World, clueless that any of this had gone on (at least I was, I’m sure my sister is reading this rolling her eyes as she often incredulously disagrees with my recollection of history). It didn’t hit me till many years later how difficult that must have been and what a sacrifice it was. But they always put us first. And they still do.
They are an amazing support system, always there when I need them. I unfortunately inherited my father’s depression and my mother’s ability to put a smile on your face even when you’re hurting on the inside. Those two combined don’t always make us the best communicators as a family, but they still care in their own way. My last miscarriage, they just hugged me as long as I needed and then, as if I were a little girl with a scraped knee, took me for ice cream. It was exactly what I needed. After your third one there are no words, no sentiments that haven’t already been given, there is just love.
My father and the butcher love being together, they drink bourbon, laugh, and work together on projects, my dad imparting his years of knowledge and experience to my husband. And my mom is my favorite shopping partner, always there to listen and give advice. It’s usually a bit “momma bear” and biased, but hey, sometimes you just need somebody on your side!
Last week we took my mom to see the traveling Broadway show, Motown. (It was fantastic and she loved it.) When we picked her up, my dad walked her out to the car and kissed her goodbye. Thirty-eight years of marriage and still kissing each other goodbye, it’s not perfect, but its love.