If my parents knew all the stuff I was about to dump into this log, they'd probably shoot me. They are just not as "open" as I am about, well, everything! Still, on this Valentine's Day, I'd like to tell you about the relationship I consider to be idyllic and what I want for myself: my parent's marriage.
My dad went to the University of Notre Dame, back when it was an all guy's school. My mom went to St. Mary's, an all girl's school that is still an all girl's school as far as I know. Every girl from St. Mary's had as an ambition to snag one of those ND guys. Humorous to the modern woman, I know, but hey, that was just the times!
The story that mom told for years on how they met was the following:
ND had a lousy football year. Even though they were not their usual good stuff, they managed to defeat the #1 team in the nation at a home game at ND. The males were so excited that, to express their joy, they stormed the St. Mary's campus. My mom and her friends ran down to the doors of the dorm lobby so they could meet the rampaging menfolk. However, there were nuns at the bottom of the stairs clapping and shouting to the girls, "Remember you are ladies! Go back to your rooms!"
Many of the women went back to their rooms. My mom and her friends, however, went out the back door...LOL
What should happen when my mom walked out the back door but SLAM! she banged right into my father! He started chatting to her as they apologized and that was that.
Now, let me tell you what my dad added after they had been married for FOURTY (40) years!
While my mom was telling this story to a friend of mine at the dinner table, my dad quietly said, well, not quite, dear. There was stunned silence. My mom asked: what do you mean, not quite?
Apparently, my dad HAD SEEN my mom. My dad ran over TO HER DORM ROOM. Then he planted himself near the back door, waited for her to come out, and then RAN INTO HER ON PURPOSE. HAHAHAHAHA! Go dad! He seemed kind of embarrassed to admit this after all this time, which I guess is the explanation as to why we didn't find out earlier!
My mom's excellent advice on marrying, as related to my father (advice I didn't take btw!): "Marry the man you don't want to change. Never marry the men you think would be perfect if you just tweaked this or that. Marry the one, the only one you find, who is just the way you want him." Apparently she had wanted to change every man she met until she dated my father. That doesn't mean she didn't realize his downsides and irritating quirks...it just means that she decided his combination of pros and cons was just the way she liked it.
My mom and dad haven't had it easy. When my parents just got married, they (being good Catholics) didn't know where babies came from. In a very short period of time--like 4 years or so--they had three children. My dad was in orthodontics school then. They had a tiny two bedroom apartment, one room for them and one for three children to share (one in a bassinette, one in a crib, one in a toddler bed...). My mom had both of her parents and her grandmother, who had lived with my mom too for nearly my mom's entire life, all die within three years (and before child #3 was ever born...long before I came along). Then, when things started to look good and money was plentiful, my very healthy father had a stroke at 39 years of age. I was 9 when it happened. I still remember my dad being in the hospital for a month and the doctors telling my mom that my dad wasn't going to walk again. Then I remember my mom basically telling the doctors "fuck you!" and doing her own additional physical therapy with my dad to what he was already doing. The stroke happened because my dad had been skiing and slipped on some ice; the fall chipped a bone, and the bone chip lodged in an artery. That's why we never saw it coming. But my mom knew dad was in really good health, so she figured she'd get him to walk. He walks with a limp now, and his left hand, although useless for fine motor skills, can at least be used for a vice grip if the weather doesn't lock his hand. My dad never practiced orthodontics again, and money was back to being tight.
My mom and dad are accutely aware of the other's faults. How can you NOT be after almost 45 years of marriage? Yet, I watch them and how they lovingly interact, and I just can't help but feel: damn, that's what I want. They hold hands constantly and snuggle on the sofa. My dad spontaneously buys my mom flowers for no reason (note: that trait didn't kick in until the last ten years! who said you can't teach an old dog new tricks?). Even though my dad is an older generation guy, he believes in doing his part in the household. He unloads the dishwasher, loads it up, does laundry, vacuums, etc. My dad tries to take into account my mom's feelings, and my mom does the same for my dad. Hell, not too long ago I almost caught them having too much fun on the downstairs living room sofa! haha! I know a lot of kids would go "ewwww" at seeing their parents in a frisky moment, but I just cracked up and thought, wow, that SO rocks! Go mom, go dad!
Two years ago, my mom had some female problems and went to the doctor's office. One of the questions he asked her was about frequency of sex between her and dad. Mom thought about it and replied, well, hmmm...at least five times a week I suppose on average...not only was this TRUE, but poor mom got the crap embarrassed out of her by the doctor's reaction. "HOW long have you been married??? FIVE TIMES a week?" HAHAHAHA! Who says the sex has to die out after 42, 43 years?
But the best part is how they treat each other. My mom told my dad when they got married that there was much she could abide, but she wouldn't tolerate screaming. My dad took this seriously. I was 18 before I ever saw those two raise voices at each other and have a fuss. I've never seen it again.
Amazing, yes? But I know it can be done because I SEE it done every year with those two. I won't settle for less. It's that or I NEVER get married again, you hear me world????
Go mom and dad! Screw Romeo and Juliet! They aren't anything compared to YOU TWO! R and J had that "new love" thing going off. In twenty years, Juliet would be fussing that Romeo left her at home with the baby to go drinking with some Capulet males and watch a sporting event, while Romeo would gripe to his friends that Juliet is such a nag. They can't survive the test of time so they had to die! But you guys, mom and dad, you guys HAVE done it.
Mom, dad: I salute you!