Mom and Dad were married 44 years ago yesterday. Mom was 21 and Dad was almost 21. Wow. Do you know how hard it is to think of my parents as being that young?
When they were married for 20 years they were 41 and almost 41. That’s younger than I am now. I was married when I was 20 (almost 21), so I often think about being the same age they were when going through our years of marriage. I remember their 20th anniversary. I was 18. Why is it they seemed so much older than I am now?
When I was a kid they seemed so grown-up. Like real adults. Truth is they were 23 and 22 when I was born. So when I was 10 Mom was 33. I was 16, Mom was 39. I was 20, Mom was 43. If you haven’t caught on by now this kinda freaks me out (oh, and I can handle simple addition, as well).
Being able to look at Mom and Dad now and see where I am in my life compared to where they were at the same age is really hard for me to wrap my head around. They seemed so much older to me then than I feel now. We’re married 21 years but I don’t feel the way I viewed Mom and Dad when they were married for 21 years.
Anyway, I can talk about that until I’m blue in the face, it’s never going to make sense to me. Mom is now 65 and Dad is 64 and they still seem the same to me as they did so many years ago. They may not move quite as fast and Mom may take 2 days to house clean instead of 1, but they are Mom and Dad ~ that simple.
44 years is quite the accomplishment. It’s a weird number with no real significant meaning like 25 or 50 years but in this day and age every year past 10 is a milestone, in my opinion.
When I think back over the years what I admire most is their commitment to each other and their dedication to their family. The most important trait they have collectively taught me is commitment. Times weren’t always rosy when we were growing up. I understand a lot more now then I did back then of course, and sometimes I wonder how they did it. I’m sure they wonder how they did it, too. But you know something? We were never ever in need of anything. Nothing. Not one thing did we need. There were always lots of wants, but even then, they were pretty few and far between. Yes, Dad worked – a lot. Yes, Mom got frustrated – a lot. Yes, they argued – a lot. But they got through it all. Even the smallest things were made to seem so significant to us. Again, thinking back there is one time that comes to mind. I think I was in grade 7 or 8 and Dad was driving me to school on his way to work. He got in the truck and told me that we were going to say some really fancy prayers and think some real positive thoughts so we could make it to the gas station. It was like a game. Will we make it??? Don’t run out of gas truck!! C’mon, baby, you can do it!! Just a little bit farther, come on now. You can do it! Good thing we’re going down hill!! It was like a game. I understand now how a time like that was not a game for Dad, but the way he portrayed it to me was the same way he inevitably taught us to deal with a lot. He wasn’t going to bog us down with the stress of the situation. He tried to keep a lot of it hidden from us because it always worked out. When we weren’t able to do something we wanted we knew why we couldn’t. We knew it was because the money just wasn’t there and that was it.
Something else that I have caught on to over the years is the nights (usually on the weekend) when Dad would cook supper. There would be some of the coolest, most delicious concoctions ever created in our kitchen. It was awesome. Most times it would be some mix of bologna, hamburger or luncheon meat mixed with onions, tomatoes, tomato sauce and rice along with anything else he could find to throw in. To this day I would still sit down and eat platefuls of it. Hindsight’s 20/20. They had to stretch things out and make due with what we had in the cupboards and fridge a day or two before pay day. How unreal is it that I had no clue until so many years later?
And yes, we would hear them argue. Mostly about money, or lack there of but more importantly we saw them work through the difficult times. We were taught that that was exactly what you did – you worked things through. You didn’t run away. You didn’t give up. You just kept going. Of course it made for some not so pleasant times; that’s life. We learned to appreciate everything we had, the value of money and the importance of commitment.
Struggles and tough spots are all part of the package. Now, don’t get me wrong. For as many tough spots as Mom and Dad saw over the years there were so many more great spots, too. Maybe I focus on the rough parts because they taught me so much. Mom and Dad taught me so much. As much as they tried to hide from me when I was younger there was always a lesson eager to be learned.
Reflecting back now, 44 years after they said “I do” I can only hope in some small way I am teaching my children some of those same lessons. Heck, I’m still learning from them. Now I’m learning how to sit back and watch them enjoy being able to come and go as they please, I get to watch them interact with their grandchildren and I see so many special moments recreated like those I spent with them as a child myself. It’s all pretty cool.
Life goes on, there’s no doubt about it. I realize that now more than ever. A new generation of our family is well under way with Mom and Dad still playing such an integral role in it all. I’m proud of the family I have come from and I am proud of the family I now raise. It’s all because of Mom and Dad and their 44 years of togetherness.
The two most influential people in my life have a lot to be proud of. I don’t mean that they have a lot of stuff to be proud of, and I’m not talking about being proud of my sister and me (even though that’s all true). What I’m referring to is they have a lot to be proud of in themselves. They are two of the most amazing people I have ever met. I have learned so much from them and will continue to do so for many years. They both exemplify hard work, dedication, commitment and courage. I am so proud of them.
Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad. You are both incredible people and for everything you have gone through and done for us over the last 44 years, it seems so inadequate for me to simply say Thank You. From the bottom of my heart, I love and adore you both.
Until next time…