Today would have been my parents' 53rd anniversary, had they both lived to see the day. I don't know why I have a thing for remembering dates and numbers, but I do. Don't ask me what I had for breakfast, but if you need to know by best friend's from third grade phone number I could ratlle it off in a wink (371-0011). Don't bother trying to call, they moved from that house thirty years ago!
But back to my parents. Mom has been gone over 21 years and it is not quite two years we're without Dad. But I don't doubt if they were both here, they would still be married. And that puzzles me, because if you knew my parents, you would know that theirs was not some great romantic love story. Theirs was a marriage based in practicality. My mother was a twenty-nine-year-old widow with a five-year-old daughter when she married my Dad. She grew up motherless from the age of four or so, and my Dad never knew much of his own father. Together they raised a family of seven children. And given the odds against them, I believe they could have written the book on parenting, and maybe even on marriage.
But today I was thinking of their marriage. December first was their one non-negotiable "date night" of the year. They would go out for dinner and then put a nice big dent in the Christmas shopping. It was a sure thing each year. Another sure thing was their Columbus Day fall foliage weekend in New England with Aunt Lillian and Uncle Butch. You could count on it. just like over the years I was able to count on them.
No, my Dad was never one to come swooping in after work with flowers or candy. But you could find him rolling up his sleeves after dinner and working on his dishpan hands. I am at the younger end of the brood, but I am told he never shyed away from a dirty diaper, either. He supported my mother working outside the home when it wasn't yet the norm; he gave her freedom to become the woman she was meant to be, even though sometimes it meant stretching himself uncomfortably to accomodate her. My Dad was not the most social person... my mom was the most social person. So you can imagine the stretching that took place! He put up with many of my mom's most "Lucille Ball" crazy ideas... from a chicken coop and rabbit hutch (in suburbia), to a Christmas gift shop in the backyard, to opening our home to any and all who needed family; I could go on, but you get the idea.
Now my Mom was the social one. So she also needed to sacrifice some of her own desires for the sake of Dad's happiness. There were many times she attended social functions alone because he just didn't like to socialize. It didn't seem like a big deal to me as a child, but now as an adult, I see it was huge! I would hate attending major events, like weddings, without my husband. Yet, this is what she did most of the time. She also created a home that Dad looked forward to coming home to after a long day of working outside in the elements. This, in addtion to working full time.
So as I reflect on my parents' marriage today, I am grateful to them. They gave me the example of sacrifice; constancy; respect; and acceptance of one another that I hope I am bringing to my own marriage. I thank God for the gift of his Grace lived out in their marriage and for the witness they unknowingly were to their children.
My Mom had a charm bracelet that had charms my Dad got her which had some significance. When she was near the end, she gave me a few of them. I tried to get a picture of one for today's post, but it didn't come out great. It is a calendar of the month of Decemer, 1956. There is a small diamond chip on the first day of the month, their anniversary.
Praying for God's Grace in all our marriages,