Today my parents have been married 52 years. Fifty-Two years. Wow. Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad. I strongly suspect you are as incredulous at that number as I am today. “Where the heck has the time gone, and how come one of us hasn’t buried the other under the floor boards?” are some of the thoughts I know are running through your minds, and that is why I think you have been married 52 years. Ron and Fran, the Real Deal.
Mom and Dad’s commitment to each other and their philosophy on child raising (though I doubt they would admit they had a “philosophy”, just doing whatever it took at the time) has impacted my 24 year marriage and 14 years, thus far, of child rearing , more than any other influence I can think of. They loved each other imperfectly and raised their children imperfectly… how perfect. Try as I may to replicate your naturally perfect imperfections , I may never truly succeed, but will die trying, and I want to thank you for all of it.
Thank you for marrying young and showing that you don’t have to wait until you are 35 and financially sound to start a family. That a marriage can be successful and loving without talking the relationship into the ground and drawing up notarized agreements. I loved having young parents and all the years we have been able to share together. Marrying young and staying together means catching your beloved in a certain light some days and suddenly the wrinkles erase and the hair is back on top.. magic, isn’t it? I married young too, and I have never regretted it. He’s like you Dad, smart, strong and gentle. We are growing old together thanks to the road you both plowed ahead of us to show me how possible it all can be.
Thank you for raising us in that tiny, two bedroom row home on College Avenue. I am sure you would have preferred another bathroom too, but you chose to send us to schools that you thought would give us a step up at the time instead. There was no place to hide in our little home, which came in handy when we huddled together when Hurricane Agnes blew through in 1972. A tiny home meant having a bunk mate, my sister, who held my hand at night when I was scared of the witch who lived in the hall closet . It also meant sisters trying to kill each other, strangulation was not uncommon, but we weren’t the freaking Cleavers after all. Funny, despite the cramped quarters, I thought we were rich ..after all, we took a trip to the seashore every year, no one else on our block got to do that.
Thank you for letting me have a childhood that didn’t have you organizing and orchestrating my every move. Thank you for not following me around like today’s neurotic parents and shoving my achievements into the spotlight so you could bask in the glow. Thank you for letting me explore what interested me, not you. I stumbled, screwed up a little, but did my own work, and found my own jobs, knowing that some solid emotional support was quietly holding down the fort on College Avenue. Yeah, and thanks for believing me even when I didn’t tell the truth… we did get the High School boys to bring us Boones Farm that night Father John called you and kicked me out of the school dance..I said he was lying because he said we were drinking beer..not the Tickle Pink wine . I don’t think I ever lied to you again, you believed me over a priest..I had a responsibility to honor that trust. Thank you for always making me feel beautiful and loved. No matter how old, tired and fat I feel, I see that intense love in your eyes that says you see something I can’t see in the mirror.
Mom and Dad, I know it hasn’t always (ever) been easy for you, ” robbing Peter to pay Paul” was frequently heard growing up in our home. I can’t speak to your private struggles or marital woes, those weren’t mine to know. I do know that your love for each other has kept the light on for all of us, kids, grand kids and friends. Fifty years from now I can hear my son telling his grandchildren about his Grannie Frannie and Pop-Pop …your love story will touch lives we will never meet, that’s real love. Happy Anniversary!