Today two of the most important people in my life have reached an incredible milestone. Meet my parents – Donald and Karen. Fifty years ago today these beautiful people were married in a small and simple ceremony, and through all of the ups and downs that beset every marriage, they made it through to this amazing day. Let me tell you a little of what I have learned from them over the years.
My parents met for the first time by happenstance picking blackberries on a hot, late summer day. They didn’t begin to date until they met formally in church awhile later. Mom told me once that the first thing she noticed about Dad was that he had the most beautiful blue eyes . . . he still does. . . and that he was awfully cute. When she looks through old pictures with me she gets this soft look on her face, especially the ones in his Navy uniform. Dad chuckles when he tells the story about how he’d saved up his money and wanted to take my mother to the World’s Fair in Seattle. Mom had already made plans to go with a friend and her family, and didn’t want do back out on her, so she turned him down. He went with a buddy instead, but he had had it all planned out. In hindsight, since they ended up together Mom says she should have gone!
Dad was shipped out to Vietnam when Mom was pregnant with me, and as with all military members in those days, communication was limited to letters that took a long time to be delivered, and telegrams in case of emergencies. Dad was notified of my birth via one of those telegrams, as I was born early. . . he may have been home in time if it weren’t for my impatience to make an appearance. I’m still impatient – some things just don’t go away! I can’t imagine how much he must have worried, as I was in an incubator for a little while until they were sure I’d be OK. Neonatal care wasn’t like it is now! This situation is a tough one for any couple, and for deployed military it is exacerbated by distance and experiences that just aren’t easily shared. The storms in any marriage happen from just such circumstances, and for my parents, it wasn’t any different. I won’t lie. . . sometimes things were difficult. But they got through it. Through the lean times, through the arguments, through differences in personal communication style that they hadn’t really had the time to discover before Dad was deployed, they made it. There has been laughter, yelling, whispers, adventures and the quiet that comes from the comfort of knowing each other so well that the silence ceases to be uncomfortable.
My parents gave me a love of tradition that I am so grateful to have, as with holidays and special occasions my mind always goes back to the love, laughter and fun that such events carried with them. The ability to hug and show affection that I was able to pass on to my own children came from being raised comfortable with giving and receiving hugs and love. The memories I have of my childhood instilled in me the desire to give many of those same memories to my children and grandchildren . . . Christmas tree hunting for a fresh tree; hot cocoa on a cold, snowy night; Christmas stockings stuffed to overflowing with goodies; birthdays being special, no matter how old we get; picking up shells on the beach; family vacations stuffed into a hot car without air conditioning (this one takes on a whole new meaning when looked at from the view finder of memory). . . all of these things and far too many to mention all come from the very fact that my parents took their vows before God and witnesses seriously. They stuck through the bad to get to the good, and let the good bolster them through the bad. This dedication is not only beautiful, it is inspirational, it is touching and it is something so amazing in this day and age of disposable marriages.
Mom and Dad . . . you are so important to me, and the example you have given of a life shared, is one that so many of us can learn from and appreciate. I love you both so much.