I have not been able to write openly this past week about my whereabouts, comings and goings, etc. I have really wanted to, but my Mom reads my blog, and I could not risk ruining the surprise my father has been planning for many months.
Today is their 50th anniversary. And he planned a surprise party for her.
My siblings were there, friends from over 50 years ago were in attendance, etc. It all hinged on an awful lot of lying, subterfuge, codes, and LYING.
I am happy to say it all worked. She was reduced to happy tears when she walked into a ballroom to an uproarious "SURPRISE!"
I spoke before dinner and wanted to share here, so Mom and Dad can come back and read it when they want to.
“A great marriage is not when the 'perfect couple' comes together. It is when an imperfect couple learns to enjoy their differences.”
When my Dad asked if I would stand and give the toast tonight, he asked me to toast my mom. I said yes, and then rolled my eyes. Just mom? Correct me, if I’m wrong, but aren’t we here celebrating the anniversary of 2 people? Don’t get me wrong, the lady has had to put up with YOU over the years, but still, this night is about both of you.
That being said, I will start with Mom…
In every family, there is one person around whom everyone else naturally orbits. A person who keeps everyone centered. The gravitational pull that insures a family stays a family, regardless of the miles in between the members. That person is the heart of a family. That person in our family is Mom.
We are all aware of that. And we are also guilty of taking that presence for granted.
Something that was hammered home last year when the collective heart of this family fell to its knees when the words aneurysm, brain surgery, and Mom were all used in the same sentence.
There is no other way to describe the day of her surgery than, it was, without question, the longest day of our lives. During those long hours, God and I had a talk. Well, let me be clearer than that – I gave God some marching orders. She was not his to dick with. She belongs to us.
I must be scarier than I appear, because He listened.
For me, the best phone call I have ever received was from my father, his voice racked by tears, telling me it was over, and she came through beautifully.
We were free to continue our orbit.
As for Dad, hearing his tears was rare. In advance of the surgery I had given him very specific orders. He was NOT to be the first one to go in and see mom. He needed to let my sister go in, mentally catalog everything he was going to see, then come out, explain it to him, then go in when he was ready.
This was not because he is not strong. But because anyone who loves as BIG as this man, hurts just as big. And with mom in peril, the ground beneathe him was shaky indeed.
Anyone who knows him knows there is great strength, intelligence, authority, direction. That exists because his ship has a very sturdy rudder. Mom.
For 46 years as their child, I have been inside their marriage. As with all marriages, there have been the tidal waves of happiness, and there have been very deep troughs where almost no wind even blew. For 50 years, they have stayed the course. They have fought for where they are, who they are, and most importantly, who they allow the other to be.
When it comes to parenting, something happened just two days ago. Anyone who is close to them has probably had their ears chewed off about their grandchildren, Carson especially of late. She is a competitive soccer player, soon to be 16 years old, who has entered the world of college recruiting and is already being sought out by head coaches eager to learn more about her, see her play, and possibly add her to their rosters in two years. That is very exciting indeed.
This past week, one of those head coaches sent Carson an in depth questionnaire in which she had to dig deep and answer 15 questions meant to reveal strengths, weaknesses, personality, and most of all, what she is made of. Repeatedy, Carson wrote about how she has been raised. What she has learned from Rudy and I, the demands, expectations, and support she receives. Reading it, I teared up, because I never need to look further than my three daughters to know I have done something incredibly right in this world.
I sent it to Mom to read. She sent back a reply of how impressed she was with Carson’s answers, with Rudy and I as parents, and then added she wished she and dad had been as good as we are.
Here’s the thing. Parenting is not a science. It is a work in progress, on the job training, making it up as you go along, and often times, stepping in it.
What matters most ARE the imperfections a parent displays. And whether or not they simply keep moving forward and stepping in it, or if they take the time to look down, see their shit covered shoes, and work at cleaning them up and correcting course.
I AM the parent I am because of the parents I have. I watched, I learned, and not a day goes by that I don’t remind myself of so very many things they did right, and yes, work hard to not do the things we all look back and wish we could redo.
My daughters will surely do the same.
What matters is not the times you think you fell short, Mom. I don’t focus on that, or hell, remember most of it. What matters is that ALL of your parenting went into making me the parent I am. And Dad, for every time you and I knocked heads when I was a teen, it wasn’t because we didn’t like each other. It was because we are so much like each other.
I am proud to call both of my parents my friends. And tonight, as we celebrate 50 years of their life together, to have had the privilege of having a ring side seat.
Happy 50th Anniversary. I love you.