Today is my parents’ fiftieth anniversary.
They’ve been together even longer than that, of course. They were voted the Cutest Couple of their graduating high school class in 1958 – it says so, right in the yearbook. It was a busy five years between that yearbook and their wedding – my mother graduated from the same university where I would go, in my time; my dad spent time in the Navy before entering into the workplace (and eventually getting a degree of his own). They stayed together. They got married.
Fifty years is a long time. The world was a very different place on this date in 1963. Jack Kennedy was still alive and President. Doctor Who was months from being aired for the first time and the Beatles were one album removed from being a club band. Computers had vacuum tubes. Televisions were furniture, with solid wood cases, and the picture came in two colors (black and white). The average American car weighed more than the average American home.
Things change, though. Cars are smaller and homes are larger. Doctor Who remains popular while, sadly, I find I have to explain who the Beatles were to my students. The whole idea of black and white images strikes modern Americans as quaint. It’s a different world.
But my parents are still here, still married. And that is important.
They have been my role models since before I knew what role models were. I learned how to be a person from them – how to treat people and how to expect to be treated by them, how to stand on my own and how to care for others, how to think and question and answer. I learned how to be part of a marriage from them – what it means to be part of someone’s world, day in and day out, to love them without being absorbed by them or taking them for granted. I learned how to be a parent from them – how to pass on all these lessons to my children, and other lessons besides.
My parents are the sort of people that my friends would hang out with even when I wasn’t around. My friends still do sometimes, even now. Even as a teenager I could leave my parents alone with my girlfriends and know that they would care for them and make them feel not only welcome but truly at home. So many people cannot say such things. All I can say is how fortunate I am. I always look forward to spending time with them, and it never happens often enough.
Next month we will gather in Philadelphia to celebrate, because that’s just how the timing worked out – lives are so busy these days, and people are so spread out. Fortunately we have a Movable Feast tradition in my family – people are more important than deadlines, and holidays happen when you’ve got time for them to happen.
We will celebrate, because my parents are worth celebrating. We will celebrate because finding someone to love and being able to make and keep that kind of commitment to them is a rare and wonderful thing. We will celebrate because they are still my role models, even now.
Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad.