A few weeks ago was my parents' 55th anniversary. It was more poignant this summer as my dad had fallen and crushed his pelvis, and my mom had to help him at the nursing home, caring for him and yelling at the incompetent employees. Now my dad is home but still using a walker and in pain. He will have hip replacement surgery next month, and my mom will have to care for him again and yell at incompetence run amok. Even so, when the anniversary came near, my dad always remembers, so he asked me to get her a card and flowers, specifying what kind. This is what he gets for her every year: a beautiful bought of a dozen red roses, and the biggest, fanciest card he can find at Hallmark.
Theirs is a marriage that started out tumultuously. They were young and didn't have a home of their own. They lived with his parents until dad came to the cities to get a better job. After that, he sent for my mom, who came on the bus, and then they went to live with his aunt. My mom learned how to drive and they worked hard until they had enough to buy a trailer house.
From there, they kept working hard until my dad decided my mom should stay home with the baby (my sister), after when she came home and saw the sitter feeding her with cold Spaghettios from a can. I can just see the horror in my parent's faces. My dad determined to provide for the family and so he did, while my mom did the paperwork for the business that he co-owned.
My dad got my mom's teeth fixed, my mom helped him improve his limited reading skills. They were in it for the long haul, even though my mom didn't know how to cook at first. One time when my dad was sick she had to drive him to the hospital, even though she didn't know how. At another time my dad shattered his neck and was in the hospital, and my mom cared for him and yelled at the staff.
My dad taught my mom to speak up, she was so shy at first. Now she has no problem! She can mix it up with the toughest New Yorker! They enjoy watching PBS, playing cards, and just being in each other's company. Nothing could ever tear them apart. But in each trial, they put their hands to the plow and determined that they were going to get through it. And they did.
My dad likes to talk about how he first saw my mom as a teen, playing baseball with the neighborhood kids. He said to his friends that was the woman he was going to marry, even though they had never met. My mom was a tough nut to crack, as she had 5 brothers that were enough trouble. But he persisted, and she gave in.
I am amazed by their marriage, especially after this summer. You don't see too many marriages like theirs. Even though they have been married a long time, they still love each other, and are partners that seem to complete each other. They epitomize the vows that are said in the wedding: for better for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.
I never doubted their love. I was lucky to rest in the knowledge and belief that they would never divorce or give up on each other. Yes, that is rare these days. But I am sure glad I have been witness to that. Thanks Mom and Dad.