Half a century. What a number.
Fifty years ago, my parents married. Mom says she picked Memorial Day for the big event so Dad would remember their anniversary. If he didn't, she was ready with a red-haired Irish glare to jog his memory. For fifty dang years.
A few times I remember Dad coming to me in a panic. "Quick, here's twenty bucks," he'd whisper. "Go get your mother something nice for our anniversary." It had slipped his mind, and it was too late for him to sneak out and get her something without being caught. So I was sent surreptitiously to fetch a gift.
At work, my dad dealt with less-than-honest subcontractors, some pretty dangerous heavy equipment, and dynamite. He was not afraid of any of these things, but the thought of facing my mom after forgetting their anniversary put a chill in his veins. He had utmost respect for that date, an exquisite symbol of respecting the relationship.
For a long time I didn't have much insight into how they did it. To a kid, it was pretty invisible. They were just Mom and Dad. I never saw them argue or raise their voice to one another. A disagreement was subtle - it might consist of a raised eyebrow, or a look held just a moment longer than usual. Whatever their conflict was, we kids didn't see it. Any disagreement was evidently handled outside of our view. It wasn't until later, trying to build a relationship myself, watching other relationships fall apart, that I realized how hard it really was. In a way I wished I had seen them argue so I could take notes.
Who does that nowadays? Women whine, guys run, and everyone takes a step to the left and starts over again. Putting a relationship first seems to be a lost art.
After seeing many couples together yet so very much apart, there is one thing my parents did that. to me, stands out. They respect each other. They don't always agree, but they don't play dirty, either. And they keep perspective. Because any disagreement pales in comparison to their love for one another.
So I stand here in the shadow of their unending love. In awe, in envy. They make it look so easy. i think they do that just to piss me off.
Here's to the next fifty years.