A Tribute to True Love

When he said “I do” he didn’t know she would save every card he ever gave her.  He didn’t know about the career changes or the layoff.  He didn’t know about the stress that followed.  He didn’t know they would settle in a small town apart from friends and family.  He didn’t know something as simple as toothpaste would fuel a fight, and he didn’t know about the roses he would buy to help heal the hurt afterwards.  He didn’t know she would slowly begin to forget; small details at first and then larger.  He didn’t know the full extent of his vow “in sickness and in health.”       

When she said “I do” she didn’t know he would be away for days, and even weeks, because of his promise to provide.  She didn’t know about their four children, or that two would happen to come at the same time.  She didn’t know in moments of frustration she would walk away, only to return again after the moment passed.   She didn’t know that for twenty plus years they would own the same furniture or that for thirty plus years they would own the same house.  She didn’t know he would battle a disease that was actively trying to claim his life, and she didn’t know how the promise “until death do us part” would feel.

When they said “I do” they didn’t know when she communicated sentiment he would communicate humor.  They didn’t know her preference for a simple palate would inspire his desire for more flavor.  They didn’t know of the warmth and acceptance their families would offer.  They didn’t know about the death of loved ones. They didn’t know that she preferred more blankets when he preferred fewer.  They didn’t know about the trips they would take and the adventures they’d have with their children in tow.  They didn’t know about the sacrifice, the mistakes, the tragedy, the fear, the confusion, the forgiveness, the accommodation, the privilege, the joy, the romance, the laughter, the gratification, the grace, the passion, the commitment, and the entirety of their love.  They didn’t know about these things, yet they chose to say
“I do” every day for 38 years.  

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad!  I hope one day to understand love the way you do.

Harvesting Memories

At 25 I rebelled against my parents’ years of gardening instruction and removed my shoes, walking barefooted along the rows of budding vegetables.  My toes curled around the clumps of dried dirt.  The broken soil held on tightly to the rooted weeds I so desperately tried to pull from the bedded earth.  I was stilled by the familiarity of this garden.

Growing up my siblings and I were guaranteed several days of fierce gardening each summer.  The long mornings, and even longer afternoons, of those precious childhood Saturdays spent in the garden were branded by the dusty film that coated our skin.  The chorus of complaints was ignored.  We came to understand that protesting did little to change the fact that by day’s end we would have a perfectly weeded and pruned garden to show for our efforts.

My mom would leave for the kitchen and return with six equally sized rootbeer floats.  This signaled the official end to our work.  Finding a sturdy stick from the yard, we’d scrape the bottoms of our shoes, mining every last bit of compacted mud and dirt from our soles.  Occasionally my brother would pinch together pieces of the remaining dirt between his fingers and throw them in my sisters’ and my general direction.  This warranted a warning from my dad.   

Years after our last family garden party I’ve discovered we all seem to have slightly different translations of the same story.  Regardless, my siblings look back fondly and in some form or another have continued their own versions of the same tradition.  So at 25 I rebelled against the tradition as I remember it.  Instead of grudgingly agreeing to help, I voluntarily tilled the ground and weeded the rows.  Instead of wearing sensible work shoes, I wore none.  I look back with nothing but fondness.