Two days ago marked the one year anniversary of my divorce, and tomorrow marks the 50th wedding anniversary of my parents. My husband I were married for 18 of our 21 years together, and while we both regard our marriage as “a good run”, it obviously pales in comparison with my parents’ 50 years of marriage.
My math skills are not the best, which is putting it mildly, but even I know that this anniversary is significant for several numerical reasons. They have been married for well over half of their seventy years, and they made a lifelong commitment to one another at the young age of twenty that has endured for fifty years. I could not even commit to my initial college major when I was twenty years old, much less commit to a spouse. Yet, three children, two ex-sons-in-law, one current son-in-law, and two grandchildren later, the two of them remain one. That is truly astounding to me.
My parents’ marriage is not one that most people would describe as extraordinary, as it is not marked by grand displays of affection or over-the-top demonstrations or declarations of love by the recitation of poetry, the giving of lavish gifts, or romantic getaways, which is precisely what makes it so very extraordinary indeed. My parents entered and navigated young adulthood and parenthood together, and while they both are independent, I cannot think of one without thinking of the other. They are a united front, and they make their relationship work day in and day, without it appearing to be work at all. Having been married, though, I know that marriage is work, sometimes, hard work.
Growing up, my parents would bicker, but I never saw them fight per se. Whatever challenges they may have had in their marriage, they kept to themselves, and they simply set about the business of being spouses and parents, with nary a complaint. They may not ever be accused of being romantic, but their love is real and is displayed in the simplest of ways. When my Mom goes to the gym before my Dad wakes up, she readies his breakfast and leaves a note written on a scrap piece of paper or napkin simply stating, “I love you”. When my Mom had a health scare years ago, I saw the worry, fear, and love in my usually stoic Dad’s eyes. They have a special bond that is as private as they are, but make no mistake, it is genuine and present.
Years ago, when I still lived at home with my parents, I was witness to a scene that sums their marriage up in a funny, sweet way. I was upstairs in my bedroom, when my Dad appeared in my doorway wearing his shabby bathrobe and well-worn slippers, and he held a small box in his hand. He motioned me to follow him downstairs to watch him present this gift to my unsuspecting Mom. I watched with amusement as he unceremoniously handed the box to my Mom, who stood in their bathroom in her slip and bra while doing her hair and touching up her make-up. Not exactly the most elaborate gift presentation by any stretch of the imagination, but it was true to form for my parents. My Mom looked surprised and upon opening the box to reveal a gorgeous ring, she exclaimed, “I thought we weren’t exchanging gifts this year, because I just got new tires for my car!”
That story describes their marriage in a nutshell, practical, caring, unpretentious, humorous, and precious. They may not be the most romantic or passionate couple on the planet, but they are perfect for one another in ways seen and unseen. Somehow, they found each other over fifty years ago in high school, and they went from being classmates who competed on the Debate Team together to being husband and wife, Dad and Mom, and Gramma and Poppy. To me, that is a love story worth telling and celebrating. From the bottom of my heart, I love you, Mommy and Daddy!
That’s another story . . .
Categories: That's Another Story