Today is my parents’ anniversary. They’ve been married thirty-two years. That is longer than I have even been alive. They are a perpetual blessing, these two people. I could sit here and type up different stories of memories that are funny, but it’d be too hard to select one. Instead, I think it’s appropriate to mention a time when I realized how much of a team they are together.
In a house with three boys, a husband, and a hyperactive male black Labrador (our dog at the time), the testosterone in our home was palpable (it tastes like steak with Cheese Whiz on it in case you were wondering). Often Mom would be the one to come in and restore a semblance of peace and calm to any situation. It’s not that she’s overly strict or a killjoy; it’s just that in the event any of us boys were hanging from a ceiling fan or playing tennis in the house, Dad’s reaction would have been more one of pride, admiration, and excitement. Actually, he probably would’ve joined us in whatever rambunctious activity we were currently creating. So she had to be the one to step in; therefore, we often came to expect Mom to be the one to tell us to settle down.
For me, this meant if I didn’t like something Mom said, did, or told me to do, I would try that typical progeny circumventing pattern of going to the other parent, and since we’re not a polygamist commune, that meant Dad was the only other option for permission. I did this somewhat often.
And though I don’t remember the impetus for this specific memory, there I was before Dad explaining my case like some childish, latent lawyer. I loved playing Prosecution. And I don’t recall if he even agreed or disagreed with what my mom had done, but Dad simply looked at me and began to explain what her reasons were for deciding what she had because, after all, he is married to her and understands her better than I do. And after he had finished playing his responsive game of Defense, he looked me right in the irises and said, “But whether or not I completely agree with her, she is still my wife.”
I think I’ve always been somewhat observant with words, and the prosecution clearly did not miss the fact the defense hadn’t said, “She’s still your mother.” His wording meant the defendant and defense were inseparable, one, together. It meant the prosecution was stupid and was in the act of biting off way, way more than he could chew.
And so I timidly smiled, swallowed my gumption back into my toes, and meekly said, “Yes, sir.” This is only one of two times I can ever remember calling my dad “sir.” It’s not that I don’t respect him; we’re just not a very formal family. But in that moment I didn’t even think twice about calling him “sir”; it just happened, was the immediately appropriate response. It was as if he said, “Mom and I are a team, and I love her, so you’d better respect that.” And so I did.
I’m sure there are many things that are essential to making marriage work, but I would think being a team is pretty crucial, that unspoken—or verbalized—support system of being united against all the evil forces of this world (namely, your own offspring). And I get to greedily enjoy the fruits of their labor, of their commitment, of their sacrifice. Without question, I know their steadfastness to each other has shaped me into my current state. And so I owe them all my thanks. I will start doing this by not playing Prosecution all day. But tomorrow . . .