Last Friday was my mom and dad’s 38th anniversary. Ever since I moved out of the house, I never really paid too much attention to their anniversary. I always thought that it was something that the two of them should celebrate and recognize together, and that it wasn’t really anyone else’s business. There have been some milestones that I knew deserved celebration, like their 25th year together. That was the summer after my junior year of high school, and my sisters and I planned an elaborate semi-surprise party for them at the park where they were married with as many people as we still knew who were at the wedding. I can’t remember at that point taking any time to reflect on how it felt for them to be there with all of their friends and family, 25 years later. Thinking about it now, it seems like it might have felt kind of crazy for them.
This year, however, I’ve been thinking a lot about my mom and dad’s marriage. My mom was 20 and my dad was 24. They had been together for a year and a half before getting married. (I learned this as I read through their wedding album, which I sneakily took from their house to scan photos.) I’ve wondered many times how in the world they could have ever known at that young age, and after being together for such a short time, that they were the ones for each other. I don’t think I’ve asked them this, but I don’t think I need to either. What I’ve come to understand is that they didn’t really know. They were just committed to making it work. Really committed. The second half of the 80s and probably the entirety of the 90s were rocky. They fought a lot. But they made it through.
We certainly weren’t wealthy growing up, but we had everything we needed. My mom and dad have always shown my sisters and I so much love. And they still do. It’s because of them that I truly believe in love and marriage. In fact, last November I was in Brooklyn visiting a good friend and she was telling me that her boyfriend’s parents were asking if they’d get married. She told me that they said they weren’t in a rush, and also that they were somewhat turned off by the display of a wedding. I told her a little bit about what I think of marriage, based on what I’ve witnessed with my parents. We had a good conversation about it, and afterward I think she thought a bit differently about getting married. A couple hours later I had to drive up to Connecticut. Halfway there she texted me to say she and her boyfriend talked more about marriage after I left and decided to get engaged. In May I went to their wedding on Cape Cod, and it was not only a celebration of love, but of commitment, too.
Over the weekend I was at my parents’ house (as I had to return their wedding album without them knowing), working in the wood shop with my dad. I started to think of him as the guy in these photos for the first time in my life. As someone I could relate to and who I might even be friends with.
Just a few minutes ago some friends stopped by and I showed them these photos. My friend Shawn said, “any one of these people could be our friends.” I guess as I’ve been thinking about my mom and dad’s wedding, and their 38 years together, I keep thinking that not only do I want to be their friends, but I want to be like them, too.
All photos are scans from my parents’ printed photos from 1974.