Today is my parents’ anniversary. They’ve been married for 48 years. Hard to believe. To me, it seems like yesterday they were getting married.
Yes, I was there.
My brother and I were little – he was 3 and I was 5 when Mama married Billy Morrison. I still remember my brother saying, “Where is that man taking Mama?” as they left for their honeymoon.
I wasn’t so sure. I didn’t understand what a honeymoon was, or why it was necessary. I just knew “that man” was taking my mother away – the only security I’d ever known.
So I held my brother’s hand as we watched the car drive away, unsure if we’d ever see our mother again. A bit dramatic? Maybe. But we were little kids. And she was our world.
Now that we’re on the other side of that honeymoon, I’m glad “that man” took her on that trip. And down the road that has been their marriage – and our life as a family. It has not been easy at times, but it has certainly been richer because of “that man.”
This past Sunday we celebrated Father’s Day. I have written before that my life would have been decidedly different if my mother hadn’t married my stepdad. I waxed poetic and counted the ways. I have to admit, I think about that every single year on Father’s Day.
This year, I was able to spend my birthday weekend (Memorial Day weekend) with my parents. It was a great time. But it was also a bit bittersweet. My dad’s health is declining, and his memory is fading fast. To see the once quietly strong, nothing-shakes-him, never-raises-his-voice man that I’ve always looked to for security and strength fading like this is a bitter pill to swallow, to say the least.
Daddy spends a lot of his time on the porch at the house, watching birds and feeding his lizards. Yes, he has trained a couple of lizards to eat bugs out of his hand. I suppose you must have something to do when you spend that amount of time sitting on a porch.
So on this trip, I joined him. I sat and just listened to him. He rattled on about all the things they’re talking about at the American Legion, at his Hardee’s breakfast club, and down at the barbecue place. I met his lizards. Several times. He forgot my name a couple of times, and repeated his stories again and again. But that’s OK. It’s all OK.
Since then, my mother has talked with my brothers and me about what we need to do to take care of Daddy should she not be able to do so. It has officially switched from “Where is that man taking Mama?” to “Where are we taking that man?”
The switch has officially flipped. I have gone from being the one with guardians to the guardian of the ones. It’s a scary place in which to be.
But, truth be told, it’s the place that I want to be. My parents have always been there for me, and now it’s my turn. I will be there for them. No matter what.
We’re still not sure where that man is taking Mama. But we are just happy to be along for the ride. However long that ride lasts.
Happy Pappy Day, Daddy. And happy anniversary to you and your bride.