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Archive for July 26th, 2020

Forty-nine years ago my parents spoke their vows, exchanged rings and sealed them with a kiss. This happened after a short engagement, in an old stone church, surrounded by family and friends.

Forty-nine years of for better … or worse, richer … or poorer, health … or sickness. Forty-nine years of love, and arguments, and silence, and disagreements, and children, and inlaws, and bills, and holidays and memories … so many memories.

They married, but their marriage did not begin as two, for my two-year old self was there to keep them from focusing too much attention on the other. Fifteen months later their son followed and twenty-six months another son.

There were numerous dogs and cats and even a few fish (but NEVER anything from the rodent family … NEVER).

In forty-nine years there were only two homes, one built by my dad’s father, the other a new home in a neighborhood with other young families. One phone number … just one.

They raised us kids, just like they were raised. Fed us what they had been fed. Spoke words, rules and wisdom that they had been given. Disciplined us as they had been disciplined.

In their house there was always yarn, cheese and the daily newspaper. Hockey ruled the TV most evenings and closed eyes were no indication that it was okay to change the channel.

The vegetables were peas, beans or corn (or all three at once). Most meals were made in quantities that would last much of the week and appeared in casserole dishes.

Physical ailments could be fixed with Vicks Vapo Rub, Absorbine Jr. or Polysporin. Home improvements could be fixed with a nail, tape (copious amounts of tape) or wallpaper.

Christmas morning always started before the sun even imagined rising and has always included a green tree. Birthdays were never without a cake, candles, ice cream and a call to serenade the birthday girl or boy (woman or man) with Happy Birthday singing. Spring was not spring without pussy willows. Hot summer days were for potato salad (with peas). Hot summer nights would hold the possibility of a drive to Sussex or the village for ice cream. Soap operas were enjoyed by both partners (though one wasn’t as quick to admit this truth).

One spent too much money when out, the other spent too much time away at the ball field (for better or worse … so the vows say and is the reality of marriage between humans).

In recent years summer evenings were spent on the swing, looking back, looking forward.

But there are other memories. Ones a daughter or son do not remember. Ones of just the two, in their wandering through married life together. They are the spectacular memories of words said and life lived that only one other person on the planet shares. These memories of joys and even heartbreaks bring wordless smiles and tears.

Memories of a long marriage are sure to awaken us all to the brevity of life.

It is in looking back that the preceding years seem to have gone in a flash. These memories of marriage are what we hold on to. They are the gift and the offering wrapped up together … the offering in their original experience and a gift when looking back at life and love shared.

The Bible says that marriage is a mystery. Maybe the memories of a long marriage are the unravelling of the mystery, slowly reminding us how fortunate we are to have these mental souvenirs of the past.

And, even though health may fail, though life here may have an end, the memories live on in our minds, in our hearts and even in the generations that are woven into the marriage story.

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