Monday, June 4, 2012
The Gold Vein
My parents are married 50 years today. We had the celebration for them this weekend. When I tell people they've made it that long, I somehow always find myself in a situation where I have to explain that my parents actually love each other. I'm not kidding. When I say they've made it 50 years, most people say something like, "Wow! How did they do that without killing each other?" or, "Wow! Are they still happy?" I can't properly describe how this makes me feel inside. 50 years is an accomplishment, I know this, but I also know that my parents truly love each other and to be faced with a world so dark and jaded that people assume that my parents have spent a miserable 50 years together, implying they should've been divorced long ago but they just held to the commitment regardless of the hate between them, it breaks my heart -- not for my parents, but for the world.
I'm a bit dark and jaded myself -- if you've read my blog long enough, you know this about me. But when it comes to love, particularly what I've seen between my parents, well... I guess they're the main reason I still have hope.
In the weeks gone by the love my parents hold for each other has been in the forefront of my mind. I have memories stuck in my head where I came home from school to find my dad scrubbing the front door because my mom was throwing a Christmas party. She had made some random comment about the damn door being dirty and my dad went out on his hands and knees and scrubbed that stupid thing, without her asking him to, simply because he didn't want Mom to feel embarrassed about anything. And I've remembered stories of her taking up fights with people that Dad would've preferred she didn't but she just couldn't help it because those particular people were running Dad through the mud and she wasn't going to stand for it. And god bless her, the fire she can light because of the love for her husband is enough to intimidate anyone into submission. I could go on for pages like this, but the point that sticks in my head is that these two people were a team -- they chose 50 years ago to experience life together, and they never stopped doing it.
I'm not going to pretend for a minute that any of this is a fairy tale or some kind of magical bull shit. I didn't show up in their lives until somewhere around 11 years into their marriage. And I don't know the ins and outs of their relationship, but reading between the lines of certain stories they've told, I do know that they've had their moments and there were times of great struggle and much decision making and work. The point is, they did "the work."
50 years is "The Golden Anniversary." Gold is, and I am no chemist, one of the most non-corrosive elements you can find. It isn't indestructible, but you would seriously have to go out of your way to find the one or two things that can destroy it (kinda like Superman -- you gotta bring the cryptonite before you can truly try to take that guy down and, even then, you will most likely fail). And my parents haven't just put up with each other because they're old school, they truly LOVE each other. Hell... I can go visit them and my dad will still say, even though my mom is 71 and looks nothing like she did at 19 when he met her, "look at your mother... isn't that the most beautiful woman you've ever seen?" At that moment, yes... yes Dad... she is the most beautiful woman I've ever seen... How could she not be? There is most definitely something beautiful about both my mother and my father that allows them to have that moment, 50 years later. Yes, Dad, Mom is the most beautiful woman I've ever seen and, at this point, you're the most beautiful man I've ever seen because I have yet to be loved the way you love my mother.
(And I will say this -- my parents never stopped going on dates and they never stopped having romantic getaways. They did it when we were kids and they do it now. My parents always made it a point to keep the romance alive, and I do think that is where a world of couples fail. Your kids are going to grow up and leave you, your mate will still be there when the kids have gone so...)
In conclusion, my dad stood up and told a brief story about some young man asking him how a couple makes it to 50 years of marriage. My dad's response was something like, "I really don't know except for it's a lot like breathing -- you're not alive unless you do it." I have this terrible feeling that the answer he gave that man went nowhere, but for me that means -- being with your companion, your mate, is more important than anything you could possibly do without that person so... at some point it becomes like breathing because you would die if this person wasn't walking alongside you so... you do what it takes to make sure your friend, your lover, your companion stays with you and sometimes... you just breathe.
Similarly, I had made a comment to my mother about how I will never, at my age now, reach the "50 year" accomplishment. Her response to me was, "Ultimately, it's not about the quantity, it's about the quality." And what that meant to me was... Mom and Dad were GOLDEN the day they met. They were two rocks that had a gold vein running through them. Sure, they lived long enough together to reach the 50 year mark, but for both of them this has been golden from the beginning -- they always had the love that was strong enough to withstand the elements, they just happened to live long enough to put the number behind it.
God bless my parents. I love them. I am very proud to be the daughter of two people that see the quality in the love they have shared. And at the end of the day, they may have been two glorious pieces of white shining quartz, eroded by air and water and fire, but they had this gold vein between them. And while the quartz may have worn away, even in the midst of the fire, the gold vein between them remained strong and malleable, and they were able to adjust and mold and reconvene and keep the love and life between them the way they chose to see fit because, well, that is what it means to LOVE -- trust all things, believe all things, forgive, be kind, and hope... they have not failed... they CHOSE to be In Love. And I love them for doing that.
Happy 50th Anniversary to my parents.