This being Valentine’s Day, or as GBN1 says, "I Love You Day," I realized that I forgot to mention that my parents would have been married 54 years on Feb.11th. I was reading through Joyce’s "five love languages" post and I thought how Toby speaks my language pretty well. The love languages also reminded me of my mom and dad. I think Dad was just pretty good at knowing Mom’s love languages, but I didn’t really understand that until he got sick.
Growing up, I knew that only Mom could break Dad’s rules and get away with it, but I didn’t realize it was love that allowed it. Dad had rules about things like putting up all of your sandwich makings before you sat down to eat your sandwich. Several times I took the heat for Mom when Dad thought it was me who had left out the mayo. Mom would quietly eat her sandwich while I was being yelled at. When I finally would point to Mom, she would grin and Dad would just stop his tirade and move on without a word to her. Dad also had a rule about coming to the breakfast table with your hair combed. This applied to all of us, except Mom. He never said a word to her about her messy do. Speaking of hair, Dad insisted that Mom put my hair in a ponytail before he would take me with him on his outings. Mom would scrape up my blonde wisps into the tiniest ponytail and slick Craig’s hair down, and Dad would take us kids off to run errands and drink coffee on Saturday mornings – letting Mom sleep in or have some well deserved time alone.
Mom was 23 when she married Dad. Craig came along two years later, and I was born one year after Craig. Most of Mom and Dad’s friends had a four to five year jump on my parents in the kid department. Mom felt a little behind everyone and wanted to have four kids and have them all together. Craig and I worked according to plan, but then Mom lost a baby. As soon as she could, she had another baby, my little brother Pete. Pete was always a fun kid, but I think after having him, Mom decided to re-think her kid plan. At 39, my sister, Kathy was a bit of a surprise to Mom and Dad, but a very welcome surprise. Mom did a great job raising us kids, but I don’t think it dawned on me how much Dad did for her and us until I was married with kids myself. Then when Dad got sick, I knew how much Dad loved Mom.
He paid the bills and did the heavy stuff. He cooked and cleaned when necessary to help Mom out. He bathed us kids. I remember how hard he laughed when he put the Easter ducklings in the bath with Craig and me. I came out of that bath as if it were scalding when those ducks started pooping in the water. Dad would get us ready for bed – carrying some us until we were teenagers. He got us up and fixed us coffee milk in the mornings. I’m sure he did those things because he loved us and wanted to help Mom, but it was a time when men did not do those sorts of things. He made sure Mom had career and something of her own – once again he was a man before his time. He grew her and cared for her. He sheltered her. He "loved her chairs." I could go on and on here on how he showed Mom love (and us kids too, but this is about Mom and him).
We kids made a special 45th wedding anniversary photo album for Mom and Dad. We had a little party with just us kids and gave them the album. We have some great memories of that evening. Maybe we had an inkling that they would not make it to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. Dad did make it, and we did celebrate their 50th, but he was very sick by then. Not too long after the 45th anniversary Dad was diagnosed with cancer. He fought hard for four years. Mom was a great wife. She set a wonderful example of how to love and care for your husband. But during Dad’s cancer, the truth came out; Dad was her anchor and her strength. The ways he had loved her were everywhere including his will to live. I watched him struggle to live and I wondered why – why not let go, but then I knew it was for her. And I promised him that I would take care of her. He died the next day.
Dad, know that she is doing great. You did well in molding her into a wonderful woman and wife. She still cries, but she is busy and happy with her life – thanks to your love. And Dad, thanks for teaching us kids how to love.