In a world where couples can barely stayed married overnight, I am proud to say my parents have recently celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary.
My parents were married on August 22, 1980. My dad was 22 and my mom was 20, four years later they had my brother Paul. Three years after that came Ashley, and another four brought me! In the 35 years they’ve been married, my parents have never once hesitated in trying to build the best life possible, especially for their children. They have stayed humble, focused on what is most important – happiness, health and love.
The example I can take from my parents are their undying loyalty to family. My parents usually battle it out for who worries the most about their children. Not that they have anything to worry about, but I’ve realized that’s what parents do. If it isn’t who worries the most it would be who cares the most, each having gone out of their way when someone was sick, or sadly when we lost a beloved family member. They have become a team who put their family first despite the consequence for themselves. I only hope to be able to repay them one day for all they have given to us. Especially the time they spent and the sleep they lost worrying and hoping all would work out well for each of us and that life wouldn’t be too harsh. But my parents, even with all of their kids all grown up, continue to push us to be our best selves, and pray for our well-being, give us the best support we could ask for and be the best examples to follow for a life well lived.
The most tangible blessing they gave their children was the financial sacrifice of putting us all through Catholic school. From the earliest of kindergarten through the most recent of college, my parents put three children through the best schools they could on a middle class budget. I still don’t know how they managed that financial sacrifice, but we benefitted abundantly from it.
We were all taught the importance of the dollar, learning how to be smart with our money, while not worshipping it. Learning to have control over your money and not allowing it to control you has been something I feel my parents rooted deep in all three of us. It has helped me most assuredly to appreciate the more special, precious and priceless things in life.
Just because they worked to give us the best possible life doesn’t mean that they have handed us everything. In fact, quite the opposite. They have instilled in us an ambitious work ethic and moral code that I think has been the best gift to their children. We all had jobs starting in our early teenage years, and were expected to make school a priority. It’s funny because my parents never forced any of us to participate in any sports, clubs or any extracurriculars. But we found ourselves the three busiest kids with a sport each season and plays and musicals, with scouts mixed with family dinners and several trips a week to visit our grandparents.
If it wasn’t the financial sacrifice of Catholic school that put a strain on my parents, it would be the countless plays, sports games, award ceremonies, concerts, graduations and a million other types of events they would go to to cheer us on, relish in our accomplishments and lend their unwavering support.
Beyond a work ethic and a desire to be engaged and involved in all that we did, our parents instilled in all of us a great faith life. We went to Mass every Sunday and grew up to be accepting of others and to do our part to give back and be a help to someone else. We have all been a part of giving back in small deeds and grand gestures, but mostly counting on God to get us through all things. I know for me, if it wasn’t for my parents and the path they helped lead me to, my faith life wouldn’t be as alive as it is today.
I look back and realize my parents, while amazing as they are, didn’t just pull these lessons out of my mom’s wedding hat (That’s a joke she’ll probably smack me for). They, too, were given the same blessings by each of our grandparents. We’ve been blessed with two sets of grandparents who we all idolized growing up and learned the importance of family. If I wasn’t a witness to it first-hand, I heard the stories of the support that each of my grandparents gave to one another, and what they in turn gave to their children. It has been a wonderful family to be a part of and a wonderful tradition to carry on.
Now as we have all become adults, we have realized how important family really is. We’ve lost so many people that we have loved and it has made us ever more appreciative of one another. We continue to try to live as our best selves realizing the our parents gave the best of themselves to us. We are there for one another always and will forever have a sense of family with whatever hardship or celebration comes our way.
Ultimately, we have a love of family. We argue and bicker. We get mad and disappointed, but at the end of the day we support, we help, we celebrate and most importantly, we love one another. That all stems from our parents who on one special day celebrated their love in the most special way.
Congratulations mom and dad! Here’s to another wonderful 35 years together!