Yesterday was my parents’ 38th wedding anniversary. Well, it would have been, had my father not passed away in June. My mother marked the occasion alone, at our family home in Michigan. I knew this day would be hard for her. It ended up being harder on me.
I wanted to celebrate the occasion. Any marriage that reaches 38 years is worth a toast. I was proud to have parents that have stayed together so many years, particularly as divorce seems more likely than marriage these days. In years past, I’ve always sent cards or flowers. Or gifts. I remember one year I got my parents one of those Precious Moments figurines from a gift shop after saving up allowance money over a few weeks. I sent roses or sunflowers when I started earning my own salary.
But yesterday, I didn’t know what to do.
I didn’t know if my mother wanted to talk about her anniversary or forget it had ever happened. I didn’t send gifts, because I didn’t want to send any reminders in case she didn’t want to be reminded. I didn’t want to call my mother right away not knowing if she would be taking calls, or if I would catch her in the middle of a good cry. Or a laugh that would turn into a cry upon hearing my voice. I didn’t want to put a message on Facebook, not knowing if mom would be saddened by it. I also didn’t want a pity party on Facebook. I still wanted to celebrate the occasion with a happy note.
I got to work and sat there, nervous. Then sad. I finally just called her.
Mom didn’t pick up the phone.
She sent me a text later, “on the phone with a friend. Thinking of Artie and the 38 today.” So she was acknowledging the event.
She called me back, but had to go immediately because another friend was calling her on the other line. She called me later, and said the phone hadn’t stopped ringing all day. It seemed everyone was concerned about how she was celebrating her anniversary and had reached out to her. Turns out she wasn’t alone. And, she was in good spirits. I posted that ‘Happy Anniversary’ Facebook message.
Wedding anniversaries commemorate the date of a union between two people, but are celebrated by so many more. Families, friends, doctors, car dealers, supermarket clerks and anyone else two people have touched or befriended continue the celebration, even when the couple, or one part of the couple, has gone.
My father used to kick off his anniversary by coming into the kitchen and signing “Happy anniversary, happy anniversary, happy anniversary, HAAAAAA–PY ANNIVERSARY!” like Fred Flintstone during that anniversary episode of “The Flinstones”. Always singing, always happy, that father of mine. I’m sure he’d want me to do the same for mom.
So, happy anniversary, Mom: