On this cold and variable autumn weekend in late October, my beautiful parents are celebrating their 47th wedding anniversary. Rumor has it they stole away to their own backyard for a brief and covid-friendly date night, which is to say that they are finally getting a room. Get a room guys! hehe
My parents married especially young and had me almost immediately, then they had four more kids who were also, well, pretty good, depending on who you ask.
All my life our parents have been the young parents in every crowd, and I have loved it. I grew up very accustomed to my female friends having crushes on Dad and my male friends having crushes on Mom (a particular devastation, though, when I reached the age to have crushes on those boys). Moreover, I always just felt like part of them. No kids remember life without their parents; but I felt a unique sense of almost kinship or camaraderie because we were relatively close in age. Understandably, they were less advertisory about this fact to the world at large. I suppose, especially in the 1970s, people might be judgmental and have plenty to say about it. But I was always proud of them, and I still am.
Earlier this month I had the opportunity to answer a question about their youth, when I posted about Dad’s 63rd birthday. A new Facebook friend noticed the narrow age difference between Dad and me (I am 46), and I quickly confirmed it. I am never shy about this. I said that yes, they were very young when they married, and the five of us kids have been the luckiest kids ever for their love and devotion, not just to us but to each other.
Growing up with young parents was gobs of fun. They were energetic, playful, driven, attentive, hard working, and always up for every good tradition, big and small. They fed us healthy food every single meal, read aloud to us and in front of us, took us on all kinds of trips, threw countless parties, fixed our cars, made us laugh, connected us to family and friends at every turn, kept us in Catholic school whether we deserved it or not, and endured all of our adolescent weirdness and young-adult griefs. They gave us everything, most of it made from thin air, and I honestly do not know how they did it. What I do know, in my bones, is that our charmed and beautiful family life was a product of sheer will, determination and, yes, passion (get a room).
The older I get, the more I realize how lucky we are to still have our parents alive and healthy, still married, and still celebrating their anniversary in personal, unique ways. They still tease us and feed us. They still laugh hard with us and read books and ask us what we are reading. They still try to get us all together as often a possible, whether it’s a weekend cookout or a special group travel plan or, during pandemic, a family Zoom. It sometimes makes me cry thinking of how much of their human lives have been spent, literally, on us.
We have received the full force of their loving personalities for forty seven years, and now a whole batch of grandchildren are soaking it up, too. Maybe soon, great grandchildren.
Seeing Mom and Dad celebrate privately now, and seeing them enjoy their home in this brand new chapter of middle aged romance, is lusciously sweet.
The photo above is from when Mom and Dad renewed their vows in the Church. (Their first wedding was several years prior, and before Mom took her Catechism and joined.) See Mom’s wedding band on her necklace? My memory is that she and Dad both wore their bands this way for several months leading up to the ceremony. It was a very intentional second engagement, something they didn’t experience the first time around. I think about this all the time.
Mom and Dad, you never pretended like marriage has been easy, but man, you have made it look so completely worth all that was asked of you, and that is inspiring. Wildly encouraging. We might never really understand how hard it has been for you, or what you have sacrificed to be our parents. But we hope to have many decades still to say thank you and to encourage you to live life for yourselves as much as possible. Your efforts have not been in vain. I hope you feel as much joy and satisfaction, as we all feel gratitude. I hope your backyard pandemic-style anniversary celebration was romantic and happy!!
“You come from a long line of effort.”