I don't normally make tributes to my family here at The Bowl but this is an important one so I'm making an exception. Here's to you Mom and Dad.
August 26, 1969 my parents were married. It was a simple ceremony with a justice of the peace in Maryland but what happened next is nothing short of phenomenal in my book.
I'm a lousy daughter because I haven't ever asked a lot of questions about my parents' early married years so I don't know much more than I have lived - a situation I hope to remedy. I know my mother dropped out of college to help my father finish his BA. I know my parents lived in the mountains of North Carolina where my father worked in a fabric plant. He lost the tip of his middle finger on a velvet shaving machine.
I know my sister and I were born in North Carolina and my parents had some dear friends there that we would stop and visit every time we went to visit my grandmother in Florida. I remember many nights falling asleep to the sound of my parents playing cards with their friends and laughing and loving life.
I know that when I was very small we moved back to PA because my grandmother was very sick and needed help. We lived in a small farm house that we actually rented from some friends in the community. I remember being lifted in the front loader of a backhoe to pick cherries from a tree in the back field.
My parents purchased land from my grandfather and built a house from the foundation up and still live in that house to this day. I think I was about 4 when we moved in. My sister and I were a mile and a half from our elementary school. My parents worked in a sewing factory in our town; my mother as a seamstress and my father as a mechanic and manager of the cutting room. My sister and I worked in the evenings sweeping up the factory.
I remember many nights on the living room floor doing family devotions. Many nights at the dining room table playing Aggravation or Uno or Parcheesi. I remember folding laundry as a family and the laughter we shared when my father became confused by the ladies undergarments. He threw one into the air in frustration and the whirling ceiling fan carried it and our laughter to the rafters.
I remember long summer days in the garden hoeing weeds, picking beans, and plucking strawberries for dessert. I remember planting potatoes by the acres for the whole extended family to share. I remember picking my fair ton of those same potatoes. I remember my father working at a neighbor's farm in exchange for a freezer full of pork or beef at butchering time. I remember my mother making all manner of homemade presents and clothes. I remember canning our own vegetables, making our own spaghetti sauce, the smell of fresh jam, and the shelves upon shelves of mason jars full of supplies for a full winter.
I remember going out to the woods as a family and cutting up fallen trees for firewood for our Goliath of a furnace. I remember many a day my sister and I spent at the woodshed stacking wood as a punishment for some recent quarrel we had subjected our parents to. I remember my sister breaking her finger when she smashed it between a piece of wood and the tailgate of my fathers green truck. Speaking of broken bones, I remember taking the least graceful swan dive off our deck and breaking my own right arm.
There were pets - 4 dogs and an untold number of pigs, cats and goldfish. There were sleepovers. There were barbeque's that my parents threw for my camp counselor friends. There were birthdays and Christmases; Thanksgivings and long summers.
But above anything else in my memory is the total overall love. There was never a lack of love in our house. Not between my parents. Not from my parents to my sister and I. And not from our house to anyone else's. I don't remember my parents ever fighting. I'm sure they did. But I don't remember it. My parents always showed us that family is forever. They showed us that the best way to improve the world is to give of yourself to other people. They taught us that nothing is impossible if you are willing to work hard, be patient, and persevere.
My mother went back to college at the same time I went for the first time. She scored a 4.0 and graduated with a teaching degree which she is still using 10 years later. It was the proudest day for me to say that I finished right behind my mother's GPA. My father took a job at a local camp when I was 15 and has been the maintenance director there for 15+ years. They are not wealthy people until you start to count up their friendships and the people they have touched over the 40 years they have been married.
So my gold star today goes to my mother and father. For being role models for not just me and my sister, but for the people they come in contact with every day and for young couples learning to be married. I don't know that I could find a better example. Happy Anniversary!
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