It was just a few words. A few words I needed to hear. I was traveling with my Dad (who is not what you would call “a talker”) to and from a doctors’s appointment. This appointment just happened to fall on what would have been my Mother’s birthday. The loneliness has not gotten easier for my Dad. He feels alone day in and day out even though he knows my brother and I as well as our families are here for him. Shaking his head he quietly stated that as he thinks back over their life together he has realized “what an amazing woman” my mother was. There is so much in that statement. This is after nearly 50 years of marriage and 2-1/2 years after her death. Dad admires my Mom. He is almost in awe of her. My Mom was not unusual in any way. I’m sure she is no more “amazing” than your mother but she was “amazing” to my father. That’s huge. He told me that we were “the best thing that ever happened to him.” The “we” is my mother, my brother and I. He got us all at once. I’m very sure he didn’t know what he was getting himself into when he married Mom but he tells me he has never regretted it. See he was “all in” from the very beginning. As I think about all he has shared since Mom’s death it becomes more and more clear to me. From the very beginning he was 100%, no secrets, no reserves, no back up plan, committed. He married Mom and his whole life changed forever. (period) He was now a husband, father and farmer. It’s especially amazing to me when I think about my father because if you listen to him you will hear that he does not think of himself as intelligent. He qualifies each and every decision he makes, often making sure you know he has only an “8th grade education.” He almost always willing to let someone else make the decision if that is even a remote possibility. The one exception that I can definitely see is his marriage to my mother. He made up his mind and he did it. In fact he has told me it was the best decision he ever made.
They, like all of us, had rough times. Just being a farmer could make a person crazy. Making a living when the weather controls what you can do in a day and how much money you make at the end of the day is enough stress to kill a relationship, but it didin’t. Mom started and ended more than one business in their lifetime together. That’s stressful. Dad instantly became a father of two. That’s stressful. They had a rebellious teenager. That’s stressful. The stress effected my father’s health and more than once he ended up in the hospital for digestive issues, largely due to stress to an already sensitive system but it didn’t end their marriage. They were all in. Why? I believe it’s because they gave not onlly their hearts but their minds and bodies to one another wholely and completely on their wedding day. They truely saw themselves as one unit. They made each other better. Mom was busy and always coming up with something new to do, learn or try. She made plans to remodel our farm house more than once. She planned trips. She read and learned to play piano a bit, paint and arrange flowers. Dad kept her grounded and supplied a steady income to support them through all of Mom’s plans. He listened to her ideas and even when he couldn’t really imagine what she was talking about (by his own admission now) he let her try. She talked with people and made friends for them as a couple. He served those friends faithfully and still does. They were a couple, one unit, a team. That’s why he is still so lonely 2-1/2 years after Mom’s death.
I was alone for a few hours after my day with Dad as my husband was working late. Working late because the forecast was for rain. The weather dictates what my husband does on any given day spring through fall. It became very clear to me as a pondered my conversation with Dad that I want and do have that same kind of relationship with my husband. Don’t we all? One thing about realizing this now is I can tell my husband I am “all in”. I can say it clearly. Better yet, I can show him and what better timing as we approach our 34th wedding anniversary this week. We’ve had our ups and downs, some of them we serious bumps in our relationship road. The important thing is we realized that 34 years ago we chose to become one. Just as important as that decision was is our choice on a daily basis to live as one unit, supporting and challenging one another to become a better person. I can honestly say my husband has stretched me in areas I would never have ventured into without his passion for life. I pray he can say the same. What about you? Do you support and challenge your spouse? Is your spouse amazing to you, your favorite person? Thanks Dad for reminding me that it is possible to be enamered with your spouse even after nearly 50 years of marriage.
I can so relate to this, Jody! Hearing my Dad talk about Mom and their 56 years of marriage is just priceless. I’m glad you are there for your Dad and get to have these times when you hear his heart. What a gift. And I just bet that the wonderful qualities that he admired in your Mom are some of the same ones he sees in you!