Saturday, September 26, 2009

Honor thy Parents

My parents recently celebrated their 61st wedding anniversary.

I once asked Mom when they got engaged, and she said, "Well, your dad did when he proposed to me. But I got engaged the first time I saw him." Seems her friends kept saying that they were looking forward to Ken  coming home from the army. And when he finally arrived, Mom saw him and knew he was the man she would marry.

Dad didn't seem to notice for several months, but Mom's commitment was unflagging. When he finally did propose, he drove her to one of the largest houses in town and asked if she'd like to marry him and help him fill it up with kids.

By their eighth anniversary their family tree had sprouted five branches. We were the "big kids" (my older brother Tom and I were just a year and ten days apart) and the "little kids" (Peach was nearly four years younger than me, and the twins, Tim and Ted, were born two days before her second birthday.) Their house was small, but it was certainly full of kids.

We were short on money and long on love. We seldom ate out but as we shared dinner around that yellow formica-topped kitchen table we'd compare notes on our day. Dad would tell us about the remodel job he was working on, or how the hand truck had rolled down the hill when his back was turned; Mom would tell us who'd dropped by for coffee while we were all at school; we'd one-up each other on silly jokes. I remember the out-of-control hilarity the night someone figured out the double meaning of "laughing at the table" and we could hardly breathe over the side-splitting notion of a funny dinner table!

Whatever was important to their children was important to Dad and Mom. They led the church's midweek children's program while we were kids; they added on to the house so there would be more room for us and our friends; Mom always sat at the table with whomever was eating, even if it was one of her kids just having a snack. One day Dad was chauffeuring me and a group of my college friends on an outing. As we drove along the girls began to sing and Dad joined in. By their response, it was clear they weren't used to that level of parental involvement, but they rather enjoyed it.

Several years later a friend was visiting me from Norway and I took her to meet Dad and Mom. They'd prepared a meal for us and asked me to say the blessing over our food. When I opened my eyes, there sat both my parents -- in pig noses! Most recently it was wax lips at Christmas!

Full of fun, those two, even after 61 years.

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