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!