Today is my parents’ wedding anniversary. Just look at them – aren’t they cute?
My mom and dad were high school sweethearts, married at the ages of 18 and 20. I think they first met when Dad shot spitballs at Mom from across the school auditorium, or something like that.
They became engaged on the night of Mom’s high school homecoming, when she was (cliché, I know) homecoming queen. Dad was home on leave from the Airforce. He’d been a volunteer firefighter before he left, so when an alarm went up that night, he reported to the scene. Mom stayed at the firehouse making pancakes for everybody. (It’s quite possible that I’m conflating two stories here. The pancakes-at-the-firehouse night might not have been the same as engaged-at-homecoming night.)
Regardless, Mom arrived home too late to announce the news to her parents and didn’t want to spring it on them on their way out to door to Mass the next morning, so (you can see this coming, can’t you?) Grandmom and Granddad learned of their 17-year-old daughter’s engagement from acquaintances at church. Amazingly, they somehow still grew to be okay with it.
When Mom and Dad married a year later, they held their reception in my grandparents’ yard. Their bridal party was huge because between them they had eight sisters and three brothers. Mom’s cousin was her maid of honor; Dad’s friends filled out his side. All the dresses were homemade, including my mom’s, which her aunt (and Godmother) had provided the fabric for. Mom finished sewing her dress the night before the wedding. Various family members provided hams and roasts, etc. for the reception and my great-grandfather hired some women to serve it. Mom’s three-year-old sister was her flower girl. I believe my aunt spent part of the wedding tugging on the priest’s robes.
Or at least, this is the story I grew up with – the background to my fantasies and the model for my own expectations. In my book, it was the ideal – probably because my parents were.
I have always known that I was lucky to be born of my parents and their marriage. They, and it, are not perfect, of course. They have their squabbles and their struggles. But in the 36 years I have known them, and it, their love for each other has always been hugely obvious. Like, neon-sign obvious. Mom and Dad are loving and flirty. They’re considerate and (sometimes underneath a few grumbles) patient. They support each other and they were always a united front in raising my brother and me.
I guess I always expected to follow a path similar to theirs. But mine took a different route. No homecoming crown, no high school sweetheart for me. No teenage marriage. Not even one in my twenties. No, unlike my parents, I went off to college. I traveled. I saw six foreign countries and countless American cities before I turned 25. I spent my twenties not changing diapers and chasing small children, but working late hours, reading stacks of books in my tiny apartment, and taking my little cousins out for ice cream when I got lonely. I met my husband via the internet, not a spitball.
It was good – just a different kind of good from my childhood fantasies.
My marriage is different from my parents’ too. Brennan and I are less flirty, our love is not so neon obvious. But it is good. It is solid. And like my parents, my husband and I try to be considerate and patient. We are supportive of each other and we are a united front in raising our boys.
I think we have my parents much to thank for this. They’ve provided me with a lifetime’s worth of examples of a good marriage, and they’ve been eight years of wonderful to Brennan.
Thank you, Mom and Dad, for all you’ve done and for all you continue to be to us. Congratulations on what you’ve accomplished together. Enjoy your beautiful (and hopefully delicious) day.
We love you so much.