This is a long post so be warned but they deserve every word of it….
43 years ago my mum would have been getting ready to walk down the aisle to meet my dad in all of his army finery. I often wonder if she was nervous or whether, as she often appears to do, she took it all in her stride.
When talking all things weddings she often says that had dad not been in the army they wouldn’t have married but lived together “over the bush” or “in sin” for a while but the army were prudish in those days – come to think of it, I wonder if they still are….
They married only 18 months after meeting each other and the story of how they met and started dating has my mum’s stubbornness stamped all over it;
Mum worked behind the bar in the family owned pub. She was tipped often and when told to get herself a “something with cola” she would have the cola and pocket the money for the alcohol as a tip. One day, dad stood at the bar, he ordered a drink and told her to get one for herself which she did. His parting shot as he went to leave was “I’ll meet you here next Friday and I’ll take you out.”
Mum thought “Oh will you know?!” and took that Friday night off work but arranged a night out with her girlfriends instead and just left my dad to turn up with no-one to take out. The following week he asked her where she was to which she responded
puts baby in a corner” “No-one tells
me what to do.”
Amazing really that they managed to marry after that start, yet they did and he cycled 30 miles each way every weekend just to see her.
As the old saying goes they are as different as chalk and cheese but they complement each other. They aren’t the most demonstrative parents with each other, for which I was probably eternally grateful for when I was a sulky teenager but they evidently love each other.
We moved 14 times in the space of 6 years with the army and lived in both Germany and England. I remember Mum and Dad telling us we could not play in the woods across the road because it belonged to “the Germans” or that is how my tiny brain interpreted it – that was reinforced one day when one of our older friends was found tied to a tree for trespassing.
I remember mum staring at me from the balcony when I wanted her to open the main door to the flats to come home after playing and I remember the adults playing badminton on the front lawn eating lollies – I learned many years later all of those frozen lollies were laced with lots of alcohol.
I remember a family friend painting my nails bright red while sat on the front porch of her flat and mum dragging me home to scrub it off because “I was not a tart” and I remember staring in horror at my sister while mum calmly removed a bee sting while she screamed the house down.
I remember the day I carried my sister into the flat after a swing hit her right in the forehead and split it open from left to right and despite the sheet of blood mum stayed calm to keep me calm. Strangely enough I don’t remember the hospital visit to get her stitched up, nor do I remember an episode of running away from home. Mum didn’t worry – as she knew I would, I returned with my little suitcase 3 hours later because I couldn’t leave home if I couldn’t cross the main road on my own.
I remember living with nanny in her guest house when dad left the army and all 4 of us living in guest room number 4 for 2 years until mum and dad bought our house> I remember helping serve the dinner guests and only just being tall enough to look over the table; of helping them to change the guest bedding in all the guest rooms and how I went round the side of the bed nearest the wall to tuck the clean sheet in because I was smaller; of nanny giving me chocolate marshmallow cakes to eat and her making me pea soup; of sitting in the kitchen and eating the left over potatoes from the guests plates as they returned from the dining room.
I remember mum and dad selling the first car they owned so that we could go on holiday and I will forever treasure the memories of staying awake with mum to keep her company when she took over the twilight hour driving to Cornwall. I will forever remember the shame of hearing my mum shout “Ian, give me some money. Tina has started her first period and I need to go to the shop” across a busy motorway service station car park and shouting at her in horror.
I remember their 25th wedding anniversary party when I was heavily pregnant with beautiful b and catching dad taking a photograph of a mirror and on asking him what he was doing, he responded “I am taking a picture of me in a mirror, which is taking a picture of me in a mirror, which is taking a picture of me in a mirror…..” - one of his few drunk moments.
I remember all the lessons; many of them not wanted at the time and now all treasured and being passed onto beautiful b. I remember telling beautiful b that she needed to find someone like my dad and hubby to love her just as mum and I are loved.
I remember finding myself on the floor with no idea how I got there when I received the call to say mum was in hospital after an emergency operation following a heart attack and seeing my dad cry for only the 3rd time in my life. I remember my dad’s second stroke and how scared he was at staring his own mortality in the face and I remember my dad slowly coming back to us and knowing he was recovering when he mimicked trying to escape the ward when waiting for visiting time during his recovery.
I live every day loving my parents more than I have ever done. I live every day trying to make sure that they know just how much I love them and appreciate every thing that they have ever done for us and continue to do. I am more than uncomfortable in the realisation that they are not invincible and that as I get older so do they do. Along with that comes the constant worry about them which hubby tells me I have to let go because worry never solved anything.
As they have for many years, they are on holiday for their anniversary and I can think of no better place for them than somewhere warm and sunny and relaxing with family they see only twice a year. Maybe next year hubby and I will join them for the week to help them celebrate their 44th anniversary.
Mum, Dad – you are my world, the love you have show me guides me each and every day. I can think of no better parents than you and the lessons you taught me in respect, love and honour are passed on each and every day. Happy Anniversary, have a great one and have a drink to celebrate for me.