A GOOD MARRIAGE IS…
I have spoken a little about my parents here but nothing close to explaining who they really were. If you read ” Hello World” you already know they were married for 62 years but what you don’t know is how they survived to be married 62 years. That is no small feat these days when you can go to Vegas, get married, play the slots and get divorced, all in 24 hours. just ask Brittney.
Both came from “traditional old-world” German Catholic families. While Dad was an only child, mom had 5 brothers and sisters. Dad often said he had wished he had siblings but knowing my grandmother it is a blessing he didn’t. She was not “mother” material but I will tell you that story another time….I think that desire to have brothers and sisters was in part what he liked about my mom, that and the fact that by the time he was ready to marry, he didn’t have to marry the undertakers daughter if he married her instead.
Now anyone who knew them would have never bet that they would make a good marriage. They were as different as night and day. He was a Navy man who loved being out to sea and she was a lively girl who loved life and family. He was quiet and could even be called shy. She was robust and love adventure. He was tall and thin with bright blond hair. She was short and while not overweight, had all the curves that made women of the 40’s something wonderful to look at. He enjoyed books, while she enjoyed movies. The one thing that they both did like was dancing on skates. It was actually the thing that introduced them. He had gone to the rink on leave one day with a friend. His friend had spotted a red-head that caught his fancy. She however had a friend along too, so to make things easier for everyone, my Dad agreed to take my mom off his friends hands for the day. It was the start of the adventure.
It was by no means the typical romance. She liked him ok and he found her pleasant enough to want to see her again. They made the date but he never showed up. Several weeks later he called her again with plans. She was a bit leery now but agreed to meet him at the local pub where her sister-in-law worked. Again she got stood up. By the third attempt that he made she was not really to interested any longer, but this time they managed to pull it off and shared a lunch. He then disappeared for 3 years while on board a ship. They wrote letters back and forth during that time but mom always said the “tone” was always just friendly. Then one day she got a letter that told her he was coming home and asked would she meet him at the piers when they docked. She agreed and took her sister Ann along. It was a good thing she did because when he got off the ship the person he recognized was Ann with her bright red hair from the family pictures mom had sent him. From there it was a whirl-wind…and just a few months later they became man and wife. Again all bets were off as to how long it would last, but what no one counted on was that they were “soul mates”. Despite all the differences they “knew” that they were meant to be together and it was that belief that carried them through the years.
Life wasn’t always easy for them. Being in the Navy and out to sea so often made my Mom more independent that most women of the 40’s. She had to learn to count on herself for the everyday things. She never complained, she just kept the home they had and waited for him. It wasn’t long before he decided with some encouragement from her brothers that he needed to get out of the Service. That was a dark period in their lives as he was a born sailor who love the sea, so having to deal with civilian life lead him to drinking. For 3 years he drank but he always brought home a paycheck for her and their two boys. He was gone for days on end and she often found herself lonely but she was never tempted to toss in the towel. Finally she convinced him that he needed to go back into the Navy and he did. He stopped drinking, and life returned to normal. They spent the next 2o plus years moving around and raising a family. She was a homemaker who earned a bit of extra cash by taking in laundry to be ironed. He was adamant about her not working so we had to hide the clothing all over the house. I think he knew but as with most things he just let her think she was pulling the wool over his eyes.
He retired from the Navy in the 70’s and joined the US Marshal Service. In part he was to young to actually retire and she was to determined that he not be sitting around the house. It worked out for them both. For the next 17 years he traveled much like he did with the Navy, the only difference was she started going along at times. By the time he finally did retire all of us kids were grown, and had kids of our own so they took on the roll of grandpa and grandma. They traveled with the grandkids every chance they got. Mom delighted in having the family together for every holiday. She would cook for days for this crowd of 20 or more and while we could see the exhaustion in her face she would just smile and hug us and chase us from the kitchen.
Her and Dad had spent a lifetime together and now in their senior years were finally spending time together. Their marriage wasn’t ever perfect, it was unconditional and complete. He never tried to change her and she never tried to change him. They were happy because they chose to be and anyone who saw them could see the love they had worked so hard to find. Every night after dinner he would say thank you and kiss her, and before heading off to bed at night he would kiss her 4 times more. It was one secret they shared all their lives and the one thing that always confirmed for us kids that this was what a good marriage was. Hopefully we would each find such a marriage in our own lives.
We lost Mom on April 21, 2007. She passed away in the kitchen and he found her. We lost Dad on August 8,2007. He passed away holding my hand. His last words were that he was going to dance with Mom on the clouds.
We miss them both more than words can express.