March 9, 1962
49 years ago today my parents stood at the altar of a small church in Atlanta about 1500 feet from where I’m typing right now and said I do to one another and they have, for 49 years. That’s unfathomable, especially in these times when marriage is downplayed and more than half last about the same amount of time as a Presidential term of office.
49 Years. Of everything that I have to be proud of about my parents I think that it’s this thing here. I often asked my parents how they’ve done it for this long. The first response from either of them is the same, they both laugh and they say, “I don’t know”. How does a country boy and a freckle-faced city girl meet up at age 15 or so, spend days “courting” on the porch, attend the same college for a while, then say we’re getting married, and then stay put for good? That’s Disney stuff; it really doesn’t happen does it?
Mom laughs. She says, “When I met your father I thought he was the greatest thing since sliced bread. He was the most handsome boy I had ever seen and I knew I wanted him to be my boyfriend, and then I knew I wanted him to be my husband.”
Dad smiles and shrugs and succinctly (as always) says, “You just know who you love I guess.”
49 years. Longer than that if you want to tack on the years that they held hands down the halls, went to school dances and football games at old Howard High School and Clark College. They are the anomaly that is not seen, especially in “The Community” and if they are seen they are overshadowed and ignored due to modern day relationship drama, issues, and nonsense.
“Relationships are work. No one wants to work at it anymore. They’d rather complain and then leave it alone when the 1st or 2nd fix doesn’t work.” That’s what Dad said to me one day when we were standing in the kitchen having one of our many man to man talks in the kitchen over a turkey sandwich. “Part of the problem is people getting involved with any ol’ body, you get the right woman and you’ll be willing to work through the problems. You get with somebody just because, though, you’ll just throw her back like a fish you caught that was too small.” Then he chuckled and ate a few potato chips.
“It ain’t like I haven’t wanted to throw him off the deck in the back yard.” Mom told me that one day when I was in her sewing room. She was hard at work with another one of her seamstress masterpieces and entertaining me with tales of her relationship with Dad. “He’s stubborn and he won’t talk for nothing sometimes, he just gets on my nerves. But then I look at him and I see that boy walking down the hall at school or coming up my Daddy’s front steps and I can’t help but love him all over again.” She smiles at a memory in her head and then continues to work her magic with the sewing machine.
49 years. That’s 17,897 days of waking up to the same face to smile at, set of eyes to look at, and pair of arms to have around you. 49 years. That’s 2,556 weeks of decisions to make, children to raise, and conflicts to resolve. 49 years. That’s 429,240 hours to love, honor and cherish ‘til death do us part. That’s a long time, that’s a commitment, and an accomplishment worth praising but, man, it’s still hard to even think of a relationship that long and still, here they are. Same as they ever were, the soft spoken country boy and the city girl still adorned with the freckles.
“Hmm, 49 years. That’s just too long to be with any one person, huh? We ought to just break up on general principle?”
That was my Mother talking last night while I was hooking up the new Zuma/Solitaire Machine (a.k.a. Computer) that my Dad bought her as a wedding anniversary gift. Dad was sitting in his comfy chair eyes closed and hands folded on his belly; he answered with a deep grumbling sound that was a mixture of “I don’t know” and “Really, woman, are you serious?”
She was fiddling with the owner’s manual of the new computer flipping the pages and reading nothing in particular; without looking up at him she noted aloud, “I’ve carried your name more than twice as long as I carried my father’s. People don’t do that anymore, huh?” to which Dad simply replied…
“Nope.” Then he reclined in his chair eyes still closed and gave a pleasant sigh that sounded like it was spangled with a little pride.
Mom looked over at him, smiled, and said, “No, I guess they don’t. But we do!”
So if you’re out there and you tire of the ranting of the day regarding what men and women won’t do, take a minute and look at an example of what a loving couple can do, with a little effort and a lot of love. Thanks Mom and Dad, you guys are the best!
~thanks for reading
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