My parents have always been the epitome of romance for me. Forget movies and television; give me something real. A real husband who writes his wife sticky notes every day and leaves them on the front door, so she'll see them when she arrives home from a hard day at work. A real wife, who writes her husband long, heartfelt missives in actual cards for every holiday in her perfect penmanship. A real couple who still holds hands on walks and hugs and kisses and slow-dances in the kitchen, even when there's no music playing. Who say, "I love you," to each other at every opportunity. That kind of real.
Growing up, this was the behavior that was modeled for me. My dad would often turn to us and say, "Isn't your mother beautiful?" and Mom would blush like a schoolgirl (he still does this). They had their disagreements and fights, like every other couple, but there was never any question that my parents loved each other. While it seemed more and more of my classmates' parents' marriages were crumbling, no threat of that kind existed in our household (though curiously - and yay for this - almost all of my closest friends' parents are still together, too!) "For better or worse," they said - and took it to heart.
My father has had years of health issues, including the last ten years with Lyme disease, and my mother has been there for him every step of the way. ("In sickness and in health...") Her patience and love for him have gotten them through trials that would have easily broken lesser mortals. But their love always prevailed.
Their story is unique - they met as teenagers, who went to sister Catholc schools in the same town (Mom to the all-girls half, Dad to the all-boys). After high school, my dad entered the seminary, and was all set to become a priest; he had all but taken the vows, when he decided he couldn't do it - he had to be with my mother. (I imagine the screenplay for this all the time... meeting on a dark, rainy evening; my dad in his robes behind barred gates; my mom outside not able to talk to him or touch; the music swells as she turns away and he watches her go; it's all very Nicholas Sparks.)
My three sisters and I are super-glad he decided against celibacy, of course. So are his children-in-law, and his grandsons. "All because two people loved each other," so the saying goes, their little twosome has grown to 14 in family photos, all the smiles beaming in reflection of the love between this husband and wife.
When I came of age for dating, I expected the kind of treatment from boyfriends that I saw in the behavior of my father, and I rarely found it. I would watch the love between my parents, and think, "That's what I want." Four years ago, on my parents' wedding anniversary, I finally found it. And now, here I am, four years later, lying next to a beautiful little sleeping boy, the product of that amazing love. The first time my husband said to our son, "Your Mommy's so pretty," my heart melted, and I'm sure I blushed like a schoolgirl, too (and yes, he still does this).
Is there something magical about June 6? Perhaps there is. Maybe it's just the influence of a radiant couple, who projects their shining love out into the world for all to see, even on a busy street corner, 45 years after their wedding day.
I love you, Mom and Dad!