Sunday, November 02, 2014

Love worth celebrating

My parents were married on Halloween.

Fifty years ago, to be exact.

My mother swore she didn't actively plan to wed on a day when grade-school ghosts and goblins prowled the nearby cul-de-sacs, following the lure of porch lights and filing their plastic pumpkins with sugary snacks.

All she had planned was a small, church wedding on the last Saturday in October.

When she realized the coincidence, she laughed it off with her famous nonchalance.

“I went to my wedding as the bride. Your father went as the groom,” she told me I don't know how many times.

“The song your mother chose for our wedding was 'Oh what a fool am I,” my father laughs.

Every year on October 31, save for the last four, my parents celebrated the same way: at home, with fun-sized candy, the music of the doorbell and the serenade of “Trick or Treat.”

I used to feel badly for them.

They didn't mind. My mom always said it was just as much fun staying home. “Who needs a candlelight dinner with your father when you have a bowl full of candy and perfect strangers coming to your door?”

For most of those years, business was brisk. It was a young street, with young children. My mom counted the parade of children by subtracting the sugary remainders of the once-full bags.

It was a sweet accounting that always left plenty of peanut butter cups for an anniversary dessert.
Over the years, of course, the leftovers grew more plentiful. The children who haunted our neighborhood grew up and moved into newer, bigger developments. The street aged and grew feeble by comparison, until only a trickle of grandchildren visited.

Still, the thought of turning out the light and going out never appealed to my parents.

This year should have been different. By custom alone, this milestone should have included a catered gathering of all their friends and family. A grand party to rival their wedding.

It's a shame we didn't get to plan that party.

My parents don't live under the same roof anymore. They have been separated by medical necessity and the cruelty of aging. But they are never really apart.

Instead of sipping champagne and cutting a replica wedding cake with my mother and their friends, my father, still full of love and devotion, sits at the end of a communal dining table and feeds her a meal of pureed food. She asks him “Who are you?” I don't know how many times. He always answers “I'm your husband.”

Despite this not being the story I wanted to tell, this isn't a tragedy. It's just another kind of love story.

This is the kind of love we promise, but hope we never have to deliver. In good times and bad. In sickness and health. For as long as you both shall live.

It's the love we all secretly worry we can't provide, or that won't be provided us.

It is the unknown. Trick or treat?

We all have to walk up those steps one day, ring a bell and wait in uncertainty for a door to open. If my husband and I stand outside of that door, I hope we get to go inside dressed as my parents.

Because that kind of love is always worth celebrating.

1 comment:

valeri blossom said...

oh, so touched. thank you for sharing <3