Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Fifty-Eight Years of Wedded Bliss

Yesterday was my parents’ 58th wedding anniversary, which is a pretty awesome milestone. Yep, they done good! And they’ve set a fine example of wedded bliss that’d probably be a good idea for the rest of us to follow.

Well, except for Vince and me. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that we wouldn’t want to live in wedded bliss for 58 years, but let’s face it – we didn’t start out our married life as still-wet-behind-the-ears kids. In 58 years, we’ll be, well, ancient. And, if by some miracle, we’re both still alive and kickin’ then, I’m thinking we’ll be doing well to remember our own names, let alone the name of our beloved.

But, we’re not talking about Vince and me. We were (before I so rudely interrupted myself), talking about my mom and dad. Now, I don’t exactly know the secret to their success, but I do know that they have always considered their marriage to be the foundation of the family. Unlike some families today, my brothers and sister and I didn’t rule the roost – our parents did. They knew that eventually kids grow up and move out of the house, and if they didn’t maintain their relationship, there wouldn’t be anything left by the time the final kid packed her bags and left the proverbial nest.

I believe my parents worked hard all these years to keep the spark alive in their marriage. They still hold hands whenever they go for walks. They kiss each other every morning when they wake up and every evening before they go to bed. And they treat each other with love and respect.

It’s not that my parents were without conflict. They did – from time to time – have their little spats and disagreements. Still do, in fact. But we rarely heard them arguing behind closed doors, let alone in front of us. They were raised in an era where you worked through your differences. I can’t swear to it, but I don’t think they ever seriously considered the “D” word.

When I was young I remember my mom teasing (threatening?) my dad by saying that if he ever found a “floozie” and wanted to run off with her, that was fine – he just had to take the kids with him when he left. I used to think, Heyyyy! Like being with the four of us kids is a burden? C’mon! We’re freakin’ angels here! But I also fervently hoped that she was just kidding. I didn’t know what a “floozie” was at the time, but it sure didn’t sound like someone I wanted to become acquainted with.

Plus, come on. My dad with a “floozie”? In the immortal words of Cher in the movie Clueless: “As if.”

When we were kids, my parents would try to take a day or two off together at least once a year so it could be about them – and not about us. They even had a No Kid Zone every evening after my dad returned home from work. Mom and dad retired to the living room for a set period of time to enjoy a cocktail and catch up on their day. It was probably also the time when mom ratted out any bad kid’s behavior, but since that was never me, I can’t absolutely swear this to be true.

(Hey, I’m the writer here; I get to remember the story any way I want!)

But seriously, I do remember one time coming to the entrance of the living room apparently with what I thought was an urgent question. I didn’t, of course, step a toe over the threshold. I have no idea what my question was, but since they determined that no blood had been shed, I was promptly turned away. See? Even angels try to push the limits!

(Wonder if that’s why when I’m at my parents’ house today, I still hesitate before walking into the living room. Guess I’m thinking I should probably ask for permission before entering!)

But the point is my parents were definitely a solidified unit. It never worked for us to play one against the other because they always knew what we were up to. They actually talked to each other and made joint decisions. So we never heard those magic words, “Ask your dad.” For kids, that’s like giving them the keys to the candy store. They go to dad and say, “Mom said it’s okay with her if it’s okay with you.” And – voilà! – instant permission.

Back then I might not have agreed with everything my parents did, particularly when I was denied permission to do something – but today I have to say I think they did a pretty good job. Mom and dad were definitely the parents in the equation. They were not our “friends.” We respected them and knew what the boundaries were. That is a good thing for a kid.

So even though my parents have not had a perfect marriage, they’ve had a pretty darn good one. And they’ve just celebrated 58 years of wedded bliss. My hat goes off to them. Oh wait. I’m not wearing a hat. Perhaps I should propose a toast. Hold on while I go get a glass of champagne or something…

(…okay, I’m back. By the way, does Fresca count? It’s the only fizzy thing I had handy.)

Anyway…ahem...: Mom and Dad – here’s to you. Congratulations on your 58th wedding anniversary. Thank you for showing us what a real marriage is all about. It’s not about hearts and flowers all the time. It’s about hard work. And perseverance. And compromise. And forgiveness. And a whole lot of communication. And much love and affection. And holding hands when you go for a walk together. May we all be as blessed as the two of you.

Na zdrowie!

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