My relationship record isn’t pretty. I haven’t always selected wisely and although I’ve reached the point of accepting and appreciating the people and places that have molded me into who I am today, it doesn’t mean the road was easy. Hoped realities don’t always come to pass and heartache sometimes leaves a scar despite the wound having healed. We all have stories that we would wish away if we could; we all have stories that make us question the risk of the fall. I do, and I’m certain you do too. But the hopeless romantic that I am always brings me back. Perhaps more tentatively or cautiously than times before, but I always come back. And I think I have finally figured out why: I grew up with the exception. I grew up witnessing great love.
Today my parents celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary, which by today’s standards is more than most could fathom.
For as long as I’ve been cognizant enough to actually ingest the relationship I watched unfold before me I’ve seen one common thread: my parents, 25 years later, still completely adore one other. I have watched them fight and I’ve seen them reconcile. I’ve seen them bite their tongues and I’ve been them lose their patience. I’ve seen them giggle with each other harder than schoolchildren when they think no one is watching. I’ve seen them be each other’s sounding boards, confidants, and challengers. Chiefly, I’ve seen them work everyday to keep their marriage.
To this day I watch my father employ old-time chivalry in all manners with my mother. She is the priority. And it took me a long time to understand these acts did not stem from passive patronizing but rather from abounding respect. My father honors my mother to the very best of his ability in every aspect, in every moment. Equally, I watch as my mother cores mounds of apples with a small, quite smile on her face as she makes the apple pie that my father loves not because he needs it, but because she knows it’s his favorite. That same small smile is the one that allows a person to look at her and in an instant see the woman of twenty years ago who hoped and prayed her new husband liked the pie she’d just made as a surprise. It’s the same smile that gives way to the beam that if you blink you’ll miss in his exclamations of how it is the best apple pie that exists. She adores him.
This gives me hope, and this is what hides in the crevices of my heart. This belief that marriage can still work today, despite all the gloom and doom and statistics of failure. Because of my parents’ continued effort, I consider myself an old-fashion romantic of the truest kind, and this is because I grew up witnessing that it was possible. I grew up witnessing a marriage that did not settle for good love, but strives for great love; and it has lasted twenty-five years with each giving just as much today as they did on day one.
With so great an example, this is the love I too hope to find. When you grow up with great love, you want nothing less.