Today is my parent’s 35th wedding anniversary and I am so incredibly proud of them for reaching such a milestone.
The story, as I remember it being told, was that my parents decided to elope after about 10 years together. My mom was in a purple sundress with long straight black hair to her bum, and my dad was in corduroys and a flannel shirt with a mane of hair that could rival Grizzly Adams’. (I guess you’d call them hippies.) A perfect union on a rock in the front yard of the lake house with only a justice of the peace, my aunt as witness and a lifetime of memories, past and future, surrounding them. Perfection.
Why after 10 years finally get married? Perhaps they were ready for my brother and I? Perhaps they were tired of hiding from my super religious, southern Baptist grandparents? Who knows? One thing is for sure, after 40+ years together, my parents are as happy and fulfilled as I have ever seen them. And that makes me happy.
My folks have been remarkable parents. I’m not sure how they did it but I am acutely aware of traits and innate characteristics that I possess that I am certain came from them. Humility. Forgiveness. Generosity. Stubbornness (thanks dad!). Determination. Free spirit. Artistry (love ya, mom). A huge heart. Loyalty. Love.
My parents also gave me great memories. My hero of a mother spent every weekend of every summer, ages 12 -18 traveling with me to various horse shows and pony club outings, acting as my groom (read: free labor), putting up with who knows what kind of shenanigans, as I lived out my dreams. My dad provided the financial support that allowed me to have three horses, a beautiful barn at our house and the fortune to ride with some amazing people and on some amazing horses. He also sacrificed time with his family to provide us with the opportunity to attend any college my brother and I chose, without having to worry about student loans or financial aid. He worked his ass off for that, in a job we all knew he hated, because that was what he wanted to provide to his family. An amazing gift.
What is more memorable than anything are the simple moments… the smell of cinnamon rolls baking on Saturday mornings as Roy Orbison or Patsy Cline echoed throughout the house. 5ams in the barn during the summer, when the air was still cold and everything was quiet but the shifting of hay nets and the closing of trailer doors. Sunsets spent on Cadillac Mountain and days racing Dad on horseback up Day Mountain in Acadia National Park. Weekends at the lake where we’d go an entire day and never leave the water. We shopped at the good will and didn’t have cable but we had something greater and even more valuable than any of those material things.
My parents also saved me when I found myself in a situation I couldn’t get out of on my own. My mother rushed the three hours to me without hesitation, helped me pack up a house worth of stuff and made multiple trips in a U-Haul van to a storage unit, all within 24 hours so that I could leave and never have to go back. My dad dug me out of a hole and provided me the support to get back on my feet again. Even though the financial debt has been paid off, I will never be able to repay him for the emotional weight that was lifted by that gesture.
They saved my life.
They bicker all the time and it drives me crazy. They nag me about my health and exercise habits but I know it’s because they love me. There are still Playboys from the 80s (for the articles, of course) in the bathrooms and sometimes a complete disregard for social graces when guests are around that embarrass the hell out of me…
But, I love them and there is never a moment that I am not fully aware of the opportunities the life they provided has given me. I can only hope that when the time comes I can give back the same amount of love, support and opportunity to my own children. Their love has always been unconditional and I hope they know it goes both ways.
Thank you for being so remarkable. Looking up to you both has always been so easy.