It would have been my parents 43rd wedding anniversary yesterday (14th August). My mum wrote, on what would have been their 30th anniversary, in her own blog 13 years ago. Here’s what she had to say. Bear in mind that she had just finished her own treatment for breast cancer only a few months previously:

Today is one of those days on the calendar every year where I take a moment to reflect on the path my life has taken…today would have been my 30th wedding anniversary had my husband not lost his battle with cancer 7 years ago. It’s a funny old thing; this life…isn’t it? You think you have it all planned out, marriage, kids, mortgage, working hard, planning for your ‘golden’ years; then fate steps in and deals you a new hand…one you are totally unprepared for. So you pick up the pieces and go on, harder times ahead. It’s all about survival…and it’s all about LIFE. So…plan for the future?? Not I! I have stopped worrying about the future so much. I’m on this new path and enjoying every blessed moment of it. Moments like this weekend when I saw a hummingbird in my garden for the first time…and then later that evening when I watched as meteors streaked across the midnight sky. Moments with someone new who gives me those butterflies and makes me laugh and remember how good it feels to be close. So, August 14th…it’s an anniversary…a celebration of remembering…and of life and love and all the moments. Peace

I watched their wedding today on DVD. After my mum died I took the old reel tape to a specialist and had it transferred onto disk. There isn’t any sound, just some cheesy, easy listening music that is obviously free to use without a licence fee, it’s really bad! It’s not a long tape, maybe 15 minutes worth of footage. My parents both look very young, but my mum is childlike. She was only 20, my dad was a sophisticated 27 year old by comparison. I know I wasn’t grown up at 20 (even if I thought I was), nowhere near it. Dad had been married once before and already had a daughter from that marriage. I think he liked the fact that mum relied on him for almost everything. He was good at figuring things out and talking to people from car salesmen to bank managers. Mum was extremely shy and self-conscious. We all felt confident with him in charge. But when mum got into her thirties, and became a little more sure of herself, it caused tension. Dad could be pretty stubborn and he liked things a certain way…so did mum! Perhaps my mum was changing too much and my dad too little.

Truthfully, I’m not so sure if they were alive today that they’d still be married. I can’t write some glowing, gushing tribute about their ‘incredible’ marriage. I note that in her own post mum doesn’t really talk about their marriage. She was in a state of change and had just come through treatment for breast cancer. She was pretty lost after dad died, her compass point had gone. She was on a massive learning curve trying to find the compass point within herself. And yes, that caused some issues at home! Dad dying was very hard on all of us, for lots of different reasons. While my dad was still alive, before he was sick, mum made the unfortunate step of telling me all about their problems at the time (never a wise move). I knew that they had been in relationship counselling several times during the last few years of my dads life. Both my parents had traumatic and troubling childhoods. Marred by alcoholic parents and abandonment. It’s really quite amazing that they were half as ‘normal’ as they were. Still, there were things that just didn’t work well, namely listening and communicating.

Would the counselling have worked out for them? I don’t know. I’m not sure it would have allowed them to find a way to remain a couple, but I’m glad they were trying. I wish both of them could have been more flexible with each other really, but I know that they were trying their best with what they had to work with and they made it nearly 23 years before my dad died. That’s nothing to sneeze at. They weren’t perfect, but who is? They did however, manage to teach me a few things about relationships, commitment, love, loyalty, parenting, boundaries and respect, whether they realised it or not. Through their triumphs and mistakes, I’ve learnt what it takes to maintain loving, compassionate and respectful relationships. I’ll take that.

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