Yesterday March 7th marked the 46th anniversary of my parent’s marriage. When I spoke to my parents yesterday to ask them how many years it was my mom said, “oh it’s been about 40 years”. My dad was in the background yelling, “46 years”. Talking to each of them yesterday was very funny, as usual. When I was talking to my dad, he remembered that our anniversary is at the end of the month and he asked me how many years is it, and I said 11 years. Then he said, “oh that’s just a drop in the bucket”. I could do nothing but laugh. He was right in comparison to his relationship with my mom, but I told him that a lot of people don’t even make it as far as we have.
I thought about how I would write about them and what I would say. I thought about the number of years they have been together and the number of years they have known each other. They have known each other since they were in the 6th grade. I thought about the ups and downs they had as a couple, the struggles they had as well as the triumphs. I think back now about how they raised my sister and me and the values they instilled in us, education, family, respect of self and family, love for one another and family and many more. I think about the butt whoopings my sister got and I avoided. I think about the family vacations, the family holidays and the sense of love and security that I felt as a child. As I now look back on their marriage and relationship, I remember watching the Huxtables and not envying them for having a two parent household as so many others did. I think about how many people have adopted my dad as their dad, because theirs was absent or non-existent.
Now don’t get me wrong, my parent’s marriage has its quirks just like anyone else’s relationship, but the good outweighs the bad. Their marriage reminds me of what sacrifice is and why it is so important in a marriage. They walked out in real life in front of my eyes what people do, who say, ‘til death do us part. Throughout their marriage, there have been financial issues as well as sickness just like in many other relationships, but they stood by each other no matter what. No matter what is no longer in people’s vocabulary. The words these days sound a little bit more like, only if, which puts a lot of conditions on why people decide to stay in their marriages. One recent episode of no matter what occurred when my mom broke her right arm in California while they were attending a family reunion back in July. Because of the severity of the break to my mom’s arm she was unable to do most things on her own, including doing her hair. Now my dad comes from the old school where dad’s don’t know how to do a girl’s hair so for him to roll and then comb my mom’ s hair was huge! He cooked and served all of her meals, gave her twice daily insulin shots for 7 months and even drove Miss Daisy around wherever she wanted to go including meeting her partner so they could go to work. The level of care and concern that my dad showed my mom during this time showed me what sacrificial love looks like on a daily basis and emphasized his love for her. Seeing how he cared for her brought me to tears on many occasions and I had to thank him for what he was doing. His response to me was that’s what I’m supposed to do.
I have often thought about why some of my favorite characters in movies were the ones in which Black women stood proudly by their men and supported them through thick and thin. In my eyes, my mom was the original ride or die chick. She had my dad’s back through so many years of marriage, parenting and everyday life. She showed me what it looked like to take care of your family at all costs. She even in later years showed me what it looks like when the bible talks about a man shall leave his mother and father and cleave to his wife. On one occasion in my first year of marriage, my husband and I had an argument and I called myself leaving with my baby on my hip dragging my bags behind me. Because at the time we lived about ten minutes away from my parents, I went to their home for refuge. When my mom answered the door and saw what looked like I was leaving my husband, she gave me the once over to make sure that I was okay and politely told me, “we don’t condone that, you can stay here tonight, but you have got to go home in the morning”. What? Can you believe that, they told me to go home! In retrospect, that was the best thing they could have ever done. That evening they made sure I was okay physically and never made mention of that evening again. No matter the struggles we have gone through they have never questioned nor inserted themselves into our marriage. Although their marriage has not been perfect but neither is mine, watching them has taught me many things that I can and do carry into my relationship and what I can share with others, which is their love and sacrifice for one another and for us, their undying support for one another, their commitment to their relationship, and their continued desire to be married even after 46 years. Happy Anniversary mommy and daddy, I Love you!