I wanted to take a moment and send out Happy Anniversary wishes to my parents. They celebrated their 40th yesterday. I couldn't ask for better parents and I'm going to tell you why.
My parent's anniversary was yesterday and I forgot to call them and hadn't picked up or mailed their card. I always get the dates confused with birthdays and anniversaries. I just can never remember the actual dates, I know what month they take place in, but jumble up the dates every year. (This year for some reason I thought their anniversary was on the 14th., I woke up this morning realizing their anniversary was the 10th and a bit giddy that I was right and that the 10th hadn't passed yet, that is until I looked at the calendar July 11, crap).
It's very possible that I'm a horrible son, but considering my brother forgot the actual day too, I'm guessing it's something else. As a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure it's their fault.
My parent's never made a big deal out of their anniversary or birthdays, it just wasn't their style. They approached those days with some celebration, but it never was something over the top. They celebrated every day as if it was their anniversary and they taught my brother and I to do the same.
They taught me to have an appreciation for everything in life, whether it was good or bad. Over the course of my life, I can remember periods of desperation like my father losing his job at the Cleveland press with as much fondness as I remember vacations to Disney World (or Autorama, dear Dad what were you thinking?). They had their moments I'm sure where they were scared, angry, or tired of the grind of life, but they never gave up, they always found the bright side of things. During my father's unemployment, I remember he decided to be a den parent for our school class and made styrofoam snowman ornaments for our Christmas party. I still have one of those ornaments and hang it every year. He also during that unemployed period helped coach my peewee football team. Things he didn't always have time for when he was working.
My mother worked night shifts until I was 7 or 8 years old in order for her to be home with her boys. I have no idea when she slept as she came home my father was leaving and it seemed like she went to work as soon as he got home. I'm sure they hated it, but I don't remember them complaining. It also didn't stop my mother from selling candy to co-workers at Christmas time for more money, not to mention the thousands of treats she made regularly.
My father even when regularly employed also took on a newspaper route at an apartment building for more money for a couple years. Sunday mornings were spent as a family in the lobby of an apartment building as we put the papers together, as my father came down to collect more and deliver them. This was perfectly normal to me.
My parents always found time for us even while working 9-5 jobs, which were more like 7:30-6:30 jobs if you include commute during those days. There level of participation in our lives is mind blowing to me. I think about it regularly when I dread taking my daughter to dance class and while I work a fair number of hours, I work from home.
Most of our vacations were spent camping in a small pop-up camper. It seemed like we camped every weekend of the summer and often into fall, my brother and I hated it then, but I look back so fondly on it now, as we spent so much time together and had so many good times. (Although my father still gets upset if we mention Swamp Fever, which is what my mother, brother, and I decided we had after his booking of a Space Campground in Florida that smelled of swamp gas.) We might have mentioned it a few times during that trip to Florida and on the way home.
The lesson I learned is that you make do with what you have, it doesn't mean you can't have a vacation, it just means that sometimes it's different. What my parent's lacked in money, they made up for with smarts.
Let's take another area of how special my parent's were, although there were times as a child, that I remember meals for weeks being what flavor of Campbell's soup we were going to eat. (Bean with Bacon being the regular serving). It never felt like we were tightening our belts. I know there were numerous reasons for belt tightening, but I also know that they still managed to make Christmas special, or get a special birthday gift, or 1000's of other things that children desire. They also weren't afraid to talk to us about some of the things they were doing to provide, whether it was soup for meals to save, or other things, we were a family and while I'm sure they didn't share anything, they did make us a part of things and the discussions.
When my parent's bought their dream house that was being built and then fell horribly behind schedule, they moved us to the new city for the school year (and because our old house sold). At the time they only thought we had a month or two to spend in the apartment, so they got a one bedroom and decided to sleep on the fold out couch. We wound up being in that apartment for close to a year. They had their share of fights as the pressure of things was getting to them during that time, but they taught me a lot in how they handled that crappy living situation. Talk about downsizing, two teenage boys, and two adults in a 400sq ft. apartment after living in a 3 bedroom house for the past 15 years. Add in a new city and it wasn't exactly a wonderful year. The fold out they slept on was a piece of fabric on metal bars, it was serviceable for one nights sleep, not for a year. They fought a lot that year, but they worked through things and eventually when we moved into the house, we were all a bit more closer and more aware from that experience living in that apartment.
Moving into our house was likely the quickest move ever, as I'm sure we sprinted things into the new house in order to abandon the apartment. We moved on my 16th birthday, and my parent's forgot that it was my birthday that day, which gives me much joy in bringing up every once in a while. Although between you and I, I completely understand their forgetting the day, as we were at the end of a grueling marathon and their focus was on moving into the house, I just like to be a pain in the ass.
I learned from my parents how relationships can bend and sometimes feel like they are cracking but with work and understanding they can survive. When I see my Mom and Dad, I see how they fit together, I also see that they weren't always a 'fit' there were a lot of tools used to make them fit. They taught me that through the years and I'm a better person for it.
Throughout my adult life, my parents have always been there for me and my family. They rarely say no to a request and often times go out of their way to assist if they think it can help.
They created an environment where we could talk about anything with them and continuously through my youth beat into my head that I needed to treat my brother better and that relationship has turned out very nicely as well. They never stood in the way of our development, they nudged and pushed at times, but they always let us make our own mistakes and were right there to help pick us up if we got knocked down. I can honestly say that without their influence and teaching, I would find it very unlikely that my brother and I would be working at the company we do and for 10 out of the 20 years or so that we've worked there, one of us has been rated in the top 5% of the companies employees. A feat many never even achieve once.
I understand that this is not necessarily the most polished piece of work, as I started to write this, more stories and thoughts came to my mind and I tried to work many of them in where I could. It's has some rough edges, but I think the heart is there, which sort of symbolizes my thoughts about my parents.
I've tried to tell you how influential they've been in my life, but even as I wrote this, I know I'm incredibly short of conveying that message. Their support, understanding, and wisdom have been invaluable to me through my life and I wouldn't be who I am today without them.
Thank you Mom and Dad, congratulations on 40 years of marriage , I love you!!
9 months ago