Monday, June 30, 2008

An Example To Behold

Today is my parents' 47th wedding anniversary. Forty-seven years! That sounds old, doesn't it? But they aren't old at all! Especially when you consider the fact that they started their family when they were 12.

In all seriousness, I can only speak of their marriage from the perspective of the youngest of their three children. So whatever trials and tribulations their marriage may or may not have gone through over the years was completely non-existent to me. And that in itself speaks volumes.

My childhood was blissfully normal. We were a happy family. But it didn't come out of the box that way. There was some assembly required - and my parents did an awesome job. My mom made sure that the last thing we saw as we rounded the corner walking to school every morning was her face in the window as she waved goodbye. She is the reason that all three of her children and our families now all have God at the center of our lives. My dad made sure that every single year we went on our family vacation in August and stacked years of memories on top of one another. He taught us that you take care of your family no matter what, and that there's nothing we could do that would make him ever leave or even think of hurting us. I had no idea there was a whole world out there with families that weren't like mine, and didn't realize how fortunate I was until much later.

It's not that our family was or is perfect. We've had issues to deal with, and when we were growing up, my parents certainly had their hands full with one or the other of us at various times. The difference is, we don't treat each other badly, dig our claws in, or insist that it's "my road or the high road" when interacting. There are few harsh words. We don't have the desire to hurt one another when we are upset. We work through things because we love one another deeply and know that we couldn't live without the influence of the others on our lives. Our daily lives. I am not who I am without who they are.

That attitude and way of living came straight from my parents - both from how they treated us and how they treated one another. And that education is ongoing. They have taught me by example how to be so many things: wonderful adult children to their aging mothers, a good daughter-in-law (hopefully!), awesome in-laws to their children's spouses, and best of all - terrific grandparents. Some of this I am already trying to put into practice, and others I cannot wait to! That's right - I already, at 37, think about what type of mother-in-law I will be to my boys' wives; and nearly can't wait to be a 2nd generation Nana!

They are the reason that my brother and sister and I and our families (along with them) cannot wait to all pile into a vacation house somewhere every year (all 17 of us!) to spend a week together. Christmas is also major chaotic fun.

You would think we all live around the corner from one another by the way I talk. In reality, none of us lives within an hour of the other. My parents are an hour away, my sister is two hours away, and my brother is about 11 hours away. Just a few years ago, my family lived at least 18 hours away from all of them. But it doesn't matter. The love that my parents bound us with is the same strength whether it has to stretch across the street or across the country.

So it's been 47 years since the two of them walked down the aisle as kids themselves; and through 3 less-than-perfect kids, 9 grandkids, illnesses, broken bones, surgeries, adoptions, kids moving away, coming back, moving away, various pets (mostly mine), deaths, countless hours driving to and from various locations, college tuitions, daughters' bad boyfriends and numerous other phases we went through - not only are they still standing, but they have been rock solid.

Thank you, God, for giving me these parents and their neverending love.

Happy anniversary, Mom and Dad! You so totally rock!


  1. Oh my, in spite of all our mistakes our child can still say this about us? That is grace. And I must tell everyone the reason for this rock solidness is God himself. He has given us much more than we ever asked for or deserve. He has been, and continues to be the guiding force and is such an awesome and faithful God! When I look at pictures of our wonderful family...all 17 of us...all wrapped around each other out on the beach, sometimes I just cry out of sheer thankfulness and happiness that this could come from a couple teen-agers who didn't know the first thing about life.
    We've come a long way, baby. We will get all decked out tonight and have ourselves a marvelous dinner out in celebration of these past 47 years. A far cry from those two kids who went to the PIZZA KING after their wedding!( told you we were young and dumb)

    Thank you for such kind words. Ah how we love you all so.

  2. Well, I don't even know where to begin. I am tempted to say that the smoothness you experienced was because they experimented on me, and by the time you were born nine years later they had it all figured out. But that wouldn't be true, because my experience was the same as yours--living everyday in the joy and safety of a home where my mom and dad quite clearly loved each other and loved me.

    I have vivid memories of being a teenage driver (we won't talk about the two cars I crashed, or the other ways I gave my young parents premature gray hair!) and Dad driving the oldest car that was prone to overheating and who knows what other problems, because he loved me and Mom so much that he made sure we had the most reliable transportation.

    A couple days ago I was reviewing cell phone call logs from last week and noticed that I had spent well over two hours on the phone with Mom & Dad in just a couple days. When Mona asked what we talked about I replied, "Not much, just ordinary stuff." That solid friendship exists because they have always treated me as real person, not just a kid to be managed. That has paid untold dividends in the way I have raised my son, and the fantastic relationship he and I have.

    I cannot even begin to recount all the character strengths I have because of the way they poured their lives into me.

    Dad and I have been going to one site of the NCAA basketball tournament together each year for several years now--it is a time we look forward to each year. This past spring my 15 year old son asked to join us, even though he is not a basketball fan like Dad and I are. He had such a good time hanging out with us that he cannot wait until next year's event.

    There is no way to quantify the value of that type of relationship. The three of us as their children and our families are indeed remarkably blessed to have these two at the head of our family!

    And you are right about the distance part. I used to lament the fact that we lived over 600 miles away and my son would not have the amount of time with his grandparents that I did with my mine, who lived just three houses away. But the bond the three of them have is as tight as I could ever hoped!