On a Monday afternoon in August, fifty years ago, my parents exchanged wedding vows at a little church in Nobleville, Saskatchewan. As the years passed, they welcomed child after child. After child. After child. Until there were seven of us. All of us but the last child were baptized in that same little church where they married.
As children, I don’t think we saw our parents’ marriage as anything special. They were just there, you know, together. But as I grew older and divorce became more common, I realized they what they had really was special. I won’t try to describe it in detail here – I know my mom would have much better words for it – but suffice it to say they had a real partnership. They were in this life together, so they trusted each other, relied on each other and were loyal to each other. I think a lot of couples these days forget that – forget that they should have each other’s backs so to speak. They kept their social circle small and focused on family, mostly. And work of course. Dad worked very hard to provide us with a good life while Mom handled most of the day-to-day childrearing and work on the home front.
In later years, Mom and Dad welcomed grandchildren. And then semi-retirement, which was actually spent at a lake in the summer so it was especially nice. Every Sunday during the summer, they would go to mass at nearby St. Lawrence Church in Nobleville, the same church in which they had been married.
And then, too early, their earthly marriage was over. Dad died from cancer in February of 2006.
The strange thing is that the life lessons their marriage imparted to us over the years didn’t stop with Dad’s death. Nope. Even the way my mom mourned his passing and continued on with life without him being physically present is a lesson. My mom is grateful. Grateful that they had as many years together and experienced so much together. She is faith-filled; she believes his spirit continues and can feel him with her still. And she is independent, which I realize now she always was. When Dad was alive, they were independent yet somehow fully reliant on each other in defined ways.
To honour their marriage, my family got together in August on what would have been the 50th anniversary of their union. On Mom’s request, we called it a “family reunion”.
For a gift, we presented Mom with a small clay replica of the country church where it all began …
The clay church was made by Toula, a clay artist who lives near Edmonton. She does charming clay replicas of all sorts of buildings: houses, cabins, churches, etc. I stumbled upon her site years ago and bookmarked it for future reference. I’m so glad I did.
In the evening of our reunion, we went to Dad’s gravesite. Mom led us in prayer and then each grandchild and child of Dad’s put a lily from Mom’s garden into the vase on Dad’s stone.
And lastly, we did some family pictures.
It was definitely due, since we last had photos done of our family just before Dad died seven years ago. Although I wished Dad were there for the reunion and the pictures, I nevertheless felt his presence and could see him everywhere. After all, without him and Mom, we wouldn’t be here.