At 8:00 p.m. on September 9, 1950 my parents were married at Saint Michael’s and All Angels Episcopal Church in Portland Oregon. Every anniversary they take the opportunity to review the past year and spend some moments to dream about the future. They also jokingly (I think it’s a joke) decide whether they should “re-up” for another year of marriage and keep this partnership going. And so far, they have agreed to stay together. As my mother says, it looks like this relationship is going to stick.
Sixty-five years. It’s a daunting number. Their partnership has spanned decades that have brought social, technological, and political changes that were unimaginable in those early post-war years. Side by side they have weathered a lifetime of events – personally and globally – from sad and tragic to joyous and glorious.
As a pastor, I engage in pre-marital counseling with couples preparing for marriage. I encourage them to consider which marriages they admire and which relationships they might want to emulate. One of the great blessings of my life is that I experienced first-hand my role models for marriage. Over the years I have observed my parents intentionally nurture their relationship as it continues to evolve as an active, thriving, and love-filled union.
Here is some of what I have learned from their love story:
- Be willing to take a risk. My mom lived in Oregon, my dad was from CT; they met when my mother’s brother married an East Coast girl. Over the course of three years, my parents saw each other only four times before their wedding day. They trusted their gut feeling that this was a relationship worth working for.
- Dare to reveal who you are. Hundreds of letters helped them bridge the 3000 mile gap between them. Each note offered glimpses of their hopes, dreams, disappointments, feelings, and questions. These shared imaginings and stories formed the foundation of their relationship.
- Learn new things. My mother was a 20 year old city girl who moved to rural Connecticut surrounded by dairy farms and apple orchards. When my father left for work (they only had one car), she was left on her own to meet the neighbors and discover the mysteries of gardening, preserving, and canning. She is one of the bravest people I know – she dove into this new lifestyle wholeheartedly, determined to make this challenging situation work.
- Cocktail hour is important. It isn’t about the drinking (sherry for my mom, Scotch for my dad), but about the listening. Every evening this was their precious time to sit down together, talk about their day, and catch up with one another. It taught me the value of taking (and making) time for my partner.
- Say thank you. My parents thank each other for big and little things – thank you for taking out the trash, for cooking supper, for changing the lightbulb, for being there when I need you. They taught me the value of appreciation.
- Notice at the sunset. Our tiny house on top of a big hill faced west. Almost every evening my parents would call my brothers and me together to admire the changing colors and growing dusk as the sun sank behind the hills. Even something that happens every single day can be precious.
- Invite your friends over. My parents hosted cocktail parties, bridge gatherings, and countless holidays for an eclectic band of relatives and friends. They encouraged us to do the same – cast parties, birthday celebrations, Easter morning sunrise service for the youth group – everyone was welcome. My appreciation for hospitality began in that small cottage that always had room for everyone.
- Make the best of any situation. A broken down car was an opportunity to walk home and get some exercise, the electricity going out was a chance to eat by candlelight, a sudden change in the plans was an invitation to try something new. My parents never dwelled in disappointment but instead discovered the unexpected that was offeredWhen two people get married, no one can know what the future will hold. I was blessed to grow up with two people filled with love, integrity, creativity, strength and courage. That is something worth celebrating.
- Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad.
- (My parents dancing at my niece’s wedding, August 2015)
9 thoughts on “My Parents: A Love Story”
You captured their remarkable, inspirational, and heartwarming relationship beautifully Rev. Dr. and daughter Sue. Thanks so much for committing this love story to “paper” so it can be saved and shared.
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Yes, Yes, Yes! And then some! I have to say that their courtship sounds a lot like some of the online dating situations of some of my younger friends (the ones that have a happy ending so far). I wonder if they would see the parallel?
I am so grateful that I was a very regular visitor in their home while I was growing up. I can trace a lot of things about who I am today as an adult to all those lessons you mentioned and I continue to learn from them as they age gracefully!
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Oh Sue. I just love this. Really love the cocktail hour bit. I suspect our version is walking the neighborhoods. I needed to read this today. Thank you!!
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I just love this Sue! Thank you!
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What a wonderful tribute Sue! We could not agree more – they are an inspiration and true role models for all of us – you have expressed so many of the things that we admire about them. Thank you for posting this!
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Perfect! Great advice for all of us.
I’m so glad you told me about your blog, Sue. I’m just now starting to catch up with reading, and happened upon this one about your wonderful parents. Having grown up with them in my life, I feel that they are almost another set of parents for me. We spent so much time at their house, out in the yard at picnics, at church events, and in my parents’ living room and dining room, that I just take them for granted as a part of my world, and especially the world of Whirlwind Hill. I loved visiting them in that tiny house at the top of the hill where they often, in later years, acted as advice-givers, friends, and helpers when my own parents were ailing. To see them and hear from them since my parents died has given me a continuity and connection to my past that has been very important to me.
I look forward to catching up on your posts from the beginning. I admire the work you do and the faith that you represent. And because my cousin is your “sister,” I feel that we are sort of related.
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So good to hear from you, Carol! Thank you for your kind words and for sharing your memories. I have always felt that we were especially blessed to grow up on Whirlwind Hill – it was a special place filled with remarkable people and I carry it in my heart.
Thank you so much for those memories which remind us of our famiiy’s fortunate lives
together. Remembering the blessings each of us has felt from the others is a blessing in itself.