11 June 2010


My mother is blessed with a sense of occasion. For example, I have yet to meet anyone over the age of five who gets quite so excited as she at Christmastime; I knew that her fiftieth wedding anniversary would be an event, and I’d better haul myself out of France in order to celebrate my legitimacy. So here I am, at home with my family, commemorating my fool head off. From what I can tell, Mom is pleased.

For his part, Dad has been listening for so long to Mom’s enthusiasm that, this morning, when asked what day it was, he replied, “My hundredth anniversary?”

Like most children, I used to dream about my own wedding. I could see it all, just as if it were real before me: the blushing bride in her white gown, the flowers everywhere, the shotgun aimed at me in the moonlight. Since destiny has reserved for me the role of observer of other peoples’ marriages, rather than participant in my own, the ceremony of wedding remains detached from me and strange, though I understand marriage, more or less. This business of linking lives for eternity strikes me as a curious but mostly admirable undertaking.

My parents are not only good at marriage, by nature as well as 50 years of practice, but they are outright lucky that the institution exists: without it, they wouldn’t.

In my youth I hit upon an epiphany: my parents require each other as essentially as oxygen. My next realization, however, has only been confirmed and gotten more true over time: namely, that my parents were both so peculiar that nobody else on earth would have them.

Warning! Marriage may cause serious side-effects!
If your marriage lasts more than four decades, see a doctor.

That’s a loaded equation. On the plus side, there’s something truly comforting about being around people who honestly belong together. I’ve felt that way about a few of my friends. (But don’t get complacent, gang: I’ve also been wrong.) I’ve even known a few couples who outdo my parents, for whom the give-and-take of a shared life is as graceful as an endless tennis match, with no final score. I watch them in fascination. How do they do that? How I admire their skills! My parents, let it be noted, have yet to break a sweat.

It is cause to celebrate — perhaps not so universally as Christmas, but specially, unto itself and among ourselves. And eventually, my mother will find something else to get excited about.

Mom and Dad on their wedding day, 11 June 1960.
Upon inspection, we see that Mom isn’t nearly so outgoing
as she appears at first, and Dad is extremely shy.
Which is to say that the photo is an accurate portrayal
of their personalities.


Michael Leddy said...

Beautiful post! It's a great thing to be able to see your parents through grown-up eyes.

Anonymous said...

Indeed, an eloquent and self-consciously stylized post...as always

But honestly, Bill, you write "Like most children, I used to dream about my own wedding." You NEVER tell us what happened to that dream. You give us instead elliptical evasions about your past and current relationship. No wonder that your blog has a curious bloodless quality...

Brittany said...

Beautiful. :) I enjoyed reading your post, and I loved the pictures. Glad I came across your blog.

Anonymous said...

but a cute pic of you and Linc... c. 1970? ;-)

Raisa said...

Hi William:
I have been reading your blog for quite some time, but it's the first comment that I leave.
Great entries and so well written.
One can only be jealous of couples like your parents - it's really rare to match that well with someone else.