The year was 1976, it was a rain drenched day in October. They say that rain on your wedding day is good luck, right? That must be true because on October 23rd, my parents will celebrate 35 years of wedded bliss.
I love to look at my parents wedding pictures. My dad in his tan tuxedo with a peach bow tie, ruffled shirt and all. My mom with the 1970's long black "Cher hair", complete with a form fitting empire waist gown. They look so happy. They look like kids, in fact, they really were. My mom was 18, and my dad had just turned 20 the week before. I went away to college at 18 and didn't even know how to make spaghetti, let alone be ready to get married!
My dad said that when they got married they had $500, his Monte carlo, and a house with an outside crapper. Of course, I wasn't around in the winters of the late 70's, but from what I hear, they were horrendous. It was so cold in the little house they lived in that they had frost on the inside of the windows...Burrrrrr! (I can't get over the outside crapper, it must have been so cold!)
They both worked full time, but lived on one income and saved every penny of the other paycheck. My dad walked to work, my mom used the only car they had because she worked in town. They saved enough money to buy my late great grandfather's house, it had one bedroom, but it did have an indoor crapper, so it was an upgrade for sure!
Two years later my brother Chad came along, and I followed two years after that. My dad worked for the railroad and was away from home much of the time. After I was born, we moved to Corbin, KY, only about three hours away from home for my dad's job, and you would have thought that they moved cross country. My mom said that it was horrible to have two babies and not to be around family. A few months later, my dad got laid off from the railroad. They called my family that day, and in the ice and snow, they moved my parents back home in one afternoon and evening. They were so happy to be back, even though they didn't have jobs. They were home. After some hard times, my dad was fortunate to get a job at Colgate Palmolive less than a year later. He worked there until they closed the doors in 2007 and he took an early retirement.
My mom was a stay at home mommy. She cleaned houses on the side, and she would take us with her. When I went to kindergarten, my mom went back to school. She cleaned houses during the day, and went to class of an evening. I can remember her staying awake all night studying, and then do it all over the following day. She finished school and got a good job, and all was well...
When I was 11, and my brother was 13, my mom and dad got the surprise of their lives when she got pregnant with my little brother. It wasn't exactly the plan that they had hoped for, but the Lord, along with some shotty birth control, brought us Zach. After Zach was born for the first two years, my mom sacrificed her job to stay at home with him, just like she had with us. My parents had a freshman in college, a senior in high school, and a kindergartner.
Years went by, Chad and I finished school, I got married, and they became grandparents. Zach graduated high school this past spring.
When I look back and think about my mom and dad, what they have endured through the years in their marriage, and that they are still together and still are in LOVE with each other, it makes me proud. It is easy to give up when times are hard, but instead they have always taken the path less traveled. Some might wonder what the key to a good marriage is, what made them stay together for all these years?
I know that they both had strong examples of what marriage and family means. They never spent one night apart unless one was in the hospital, my dad never "slept on the couch" because they had an argument. If they disagreed about something they would discuss it, and agree to disagree. They kept faith and family at the center of their lives. They never disrespected each other, they simply loved each other more than themselves. They were a united front as parents. They disciplined when necessary, and they loved at all times. They never missed a ball practice, band competition, baseball game, basketball game, etc etc. They were front and center of it all. My house was the house that all the kids wanted to be at, and my mom always fixed dinner for a few extras.
Looking back and thinking about the most important thing that my parents have taught me, it has to be COMMITMENT. Their commitment to each other in their marriage, their commitment as parents, as employees, as a family, and most of all, their commitment in their faith. It is simple, you show up, and you do your best.
Thank you mom and dad. You made it to 35, and here is to 35 more, and an indoor crapper!