When my daughter, Michelle was in high school she did a family history research project for one of her classes. It involved creating a family tree of some sort and a written narrative of the family history. As part of that effort, she interviewed my parents about my Dad’s time in the military during World War II, my Mom’s herculean task of feeding and clothing nine children (including two sets of twins) and their favorite memories from family vacations. When asked about my Dad’s most exciting adventure, we expected to hear stories about parachuting out of airplanes in the Philippine Islands or possibly his travels to Japan. Instead my Dad got a smile on his face that emanated from somewhere deep within while looking adoringly at my Mom and said “you’re looking at it.”
My parents love affair began 66 years ago when they were neighbors and my Dad announced to one of his brothers that he was going to marry that girl across the street sitting on the Coke machine. They travelled everywhere together and were only separated for brief moments when my Dad would drop her off in front of a store while he parked the car. Doors were held open and hands were held tight as they made their way through life together. In the photo above we are celebrating a holiday family gathering which in my family means packing so many people into the dining room that getting up to get a forgotten condiment mid-meal is a complete non-starter. My Mom and Dad are laughing at a funny face that Hanna was making at the time – my parents adore their grandchildren (enough for a regulation football game for both teams!), great grandchildren (7) and a great, great grandchild…fertility seems to be a hereditary trait.
In all great relationships there is some division of duties – my Mom was the talker and my Dad was the listener. There was no need to check Facebook for status updates on my siblings life events – Mom got and distributed information about every birthday celebration, school accomplishment, sporting triumph and the like in as much detail as one’s cell phone usage plan would allow. Optimism and positive attitudes were learned by example including her thankfulness for her ‘good health’ despite an inoperable heart condition and advanced diabetes. She never tired of celebrating her family’s special moments nor of comforting us in our grief. She was always there for us alongside her special guy.
Yesterday surrounded by her loved ones (some in person but all in spirit), Mom quietly passed to a better place where she awaits her reunion with the man of her dreams. Family celebrations won’t be the same without you but you made me promise to continue them for the sake of the kids. We love you Mom.