Friday, August 17, 2012
My beautiful, headstrong mother had just barely turned 18 when she married an even stronger-willed, intellectual man of 19 in 1973. My parents both wished they could have been married a couple of months earlier, but my grandfather sent Mom to visit some relatives in Canada that summer in order to give the couple time apart. According to my maternal grandfather, Dad showed up nearly every day at their house in Idaho, wanting to know when his bride was returning.
Maybe Grandpa thought things had moved too fast, because by their third date Dad told Mom that he loved her. Though her initial response was a hesitant, "I like you alot, too," they were soon engaged.
Both my parents said the wedding was a blur because of stress, jitters and family drama. Dad said he only remembered going in for the kiss and the walk together back up the aisle.
The fact that my mother was so stressed was largely due to the fact that she didn't wear her dream dress. She had purchased her dress months before at a small bridal boutique. When she returned from her Canada trip, she went to collect it, and the dress was brought out to her. Only it wasn't Mom's dress at all. It was an entirely different style and two sizes too big. The unscrupulous shop owner asserted rather awkwardly that it was indeed the right dress, but my mom, horrified and too angry for words, knew the truth: the woman had sold her dress to someone else, probably because they offered to pay extra, while she was away.
There was no time to find another, but Mom was marrying the love of her life. So she took the dress that the shop owner offered her with no hope of having it altered. It is obvious in the pictures that the dress is too large, but she is radiant, and her exquisite veil is perfect against her lovely, clear skin and soft brown hair.
At least her going-away dress, the one my father bought for her, was her own choice. She wore it when they left the church in Dad's truck for their simple honeymoon. No one, I believe, would call Council, Idaho exotic.
As my parents gradually built their life together - having children, growing spiritually, forging careers, pursuing dreams, and eventually settling in Tennessee - they would not have any opportunity for exotic trips. Unless you count St. Louis with kids in tow. I complain that my husband and I have never gotten away yet, but my parents went years together with nary a date.
For their anniversary each year, we kids used to put on a song and dance show, directed by my big sister Vinca, to honor and entertain them. I remember them coming home in the summer evening from work, exhausted. We always had a homemade sign high on the wall with an exuberant and colorful, Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad! They sat down in their adjacent arm chairs and held hands as we came out in our costumes - Hawaiian shirts one year for Beach Boys' songs, miscellaneous stuff for a Wizard of Oz theme, etc. - and tried our best to be cute and talented in order to remind them, Who needs a night out when you have four such adorable children?
My mom told me recently that one year they did try to have a romantic picnic at a lake for a change, but all the fish in the lake had died. You couldn't get within half a mile; the stench was so terrible. So they came home and spread a blanket on the living room floor for their romantic lunch. You do what you have to do, in the spirit of the occasion, and it's easier when you truly love each other.
As a young man my dad prayed that God would guide him to the right woman for a wife, and he jokes that God brought him the one woman saintly enough to put up with him. To his delight she also happened to be beautiful, steady, gracious and optimistic. She sees him for the intelligent, talented, passionate and temperamental guy he is. They're still chasing their dreams together and looking forward to their 40th anniversary next year.
My anniversary wish for my wonderful parents is that they will someday return to Paris and enjoy more of their best days in that city of lovers that suits them so well.