Forty years ago today my Mother wore on a dress borrowed from her best friend and my Father donned a rented tux only the 70s could have created. My Grandfather walked my Mom down the aisle as his own tux strained against his ample belly. And my parents were wed.
Do you want to hear something crazy? They still like each other.
I’m not telling you they have a perfect marriage. Thirteen years into wifehood has taught me there is no such thing. There are good years and bad years. There is joy and heartache and more hurt than you ever thought possible.
But creating a family with another person is a sacred thing. I might be agnostic, but I believe in marriage. I believe in family. I believe in love. I believe in friendship. I believe in intimacy. I believe in comfort. I believe in seeing each other at our worst and loving each other fiercely anyway. I believe it is all what makes life worth living.
I believe it because I grew up watching my parent’s partnerhood. The daily operation of their union is much different than my own, still I started to learn what marriage means from them. Eventually Z and I had to make our own way, but the foundation my parents gave me and the example they set us was an enormous influence.
In the spring of 2008 family from both sides was in town to attend Z’s graduate school thesis show. One night both sets of our parents, Z’s sister and her wife-to-be, and Z sat around our dining room and played a game. Can’t remember the name, but the deal was everyone wrote down a question. Someone drew a question and the name of a person playing. The question was read and everyone was told to write what they thought the chosen person would answer. The person would also write their answer. The person who was “it” had try and choose what that other person wrote. Is this an actual board game? That night they played on pieces of paper and pens scrounged from our apartment. I had an early shift the next morning at work and was already in bed, so I missed the fun.
Someone drew my Dad along with the question “What would your dream house have it in?” As it happened, during that very time my parents were building their dream house as my father prepared to retire. Because of that the answers given were all sorts of fancy bells and whistles. But two of the papers had the same answer written—my Mother’s name. It was the answer provided by both of my parents.
That is their marriage in a nutshell. They are on the exact same page. They need each other to be happy. They might drive each other nuts, but at the end of the day there isn’t anyone else they want to spend everyday with.
Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad. I wish you 40 more years together. And look! No swear words just for you!
December 29, 1973