Happy 50th Anniversary to My Wonderful Parents


Congratulation Mom and Dad! You made it to 50! I’m just glad y’all get to celebrate it together.

It wasn’t until I got to see my mother up close in the year and two months after my father passed that I got to understand how much they really loved each other. To be around them through most of their forty-eight years and nine months on Earth, you’d think they hated each other. There were certainly things they hated about each other and they never made an attempt to hide that from anybody. But my parents had something, I’ll admit now, that I just didn’t understand. I reckon I’ve just been sold on the idea that two people in love are supposed to act a certain way. And the narrow construct of that “certain way” just didn’t seem to suit my parent. Oh yes, my parents loved each other; they just didn’t express it like I thought they should. And y’know what? What do I know?

My parents took that “better or worse, sickness and in health” stuff for real. When two-thirds of married couples of married couples are calling it quits these days, my parents hung in and stuck it out. There were a lot of times those of us closest to them wished they wouldn’t! But there was something unseen to all of us (at least to me) that was bigger– something that my Mister-Smarty-Pants worldview just didn’t allow for. My parents had a love that “passes understanding.”

In the final years, when it became (I guess) safe to do so, you might catch my parents sharing a tender moment. As my father’s health declined my mother became more and more attentive to him as best she was able with her own health concerns. She was alone with him in my bedroom the night that he died. She later told me that she lay their listening to the space between his breaths get longer and longer until finally the next breath never came. My dad died peacefully in his sleep. That was what I had hoped for for my mother. That did not happen.

At my father’s funeral my mother leaned into the casket to kiss my father goodbye. I thought, “Oh no, don’t do that!” I don’t even know why it bothered me. Could it be that I was jealous of their love, as my father had been of the love between my mother and me? At her funeral I would do the same, leaning in to kiss her precious face one last time. I hated to see her go. I would have crawled in there beside her if I thought it meant I’d get to be with her forever. I realize how creepy that sounds. Life, now without my mother, is completely changed for me and is something unfamiliar after almost fifty years of having her as my chief advocate and best friend.

My father and I had made amends for all the hurt feelings and unskillful behavior on either of our parts over the years. During the final months of his life I bathed and fed him like an infant. It was intimate, and awkward at first but I became very grateful to be able to serve him in that way– to take care of his body when he was no longer able– the body that had labored so hard for so long to give us, his family, a life better than he had had. Because of my parents’ hard work, Chad and I own a beautiful home that we will always be able to come to. We intend to keep it as a testament to their life’s labor and love for us, and to pass the family home place on to the next generation.

In the immediate wake of my mother’s passing; most of my interactions with her spirit as I, reeling, tried to adjust to the new nature of our connectedness; was between the two of us and that continues to happen half the time. But especially over the past couple of days, when they come to me, they come as a couple. They are reunited in love and never have to be apart again. I know they are pulling for me, are on my side, and will help me if I allow it.

The other day, when I sat on the ground crying by the fire that was consuming the dead funeral flowers from Mom’s grave, I called out to them, “Please help me!” All of a sudden I had the sense they were standing over me. But instead of just the two of them, there were six figures. Behind each parent stood his or her two parents. It was blazing hot, I was covered in sweat and ash and self-pity. I just heard, “Go inside and take a cold shower” and it wasn’t me giving myself advice. There’s a time to grieve, to sit in “sackcloth and ashes”, and a time to go inside and take a cold shower.

So congratulations to my parents on the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary! How nice that Marriage Equality happened on that auspicious day. They each, in their own way, had just a little something to do with that I believe– even if just speaking their truth publically about their love for me.

Mom and Dad, President Obama was talking about y’all when he thanked the parents from the Rose Garden at the White House today, “parents who loved their children no matter what.” Thank you, thank you, for that! I realize it’s not everyone’s story. And again, happy anniversary, you demonstrated a tenacity that I clearly lacked. While I miss you very much, I’m happy you’re together again.

See y’all tomorrow.

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