Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Perfect Wedding

The lid has been closed, the flag has been folded; due honor has been given. The hole has been filled, and as spring comes, grass will cover the barren ground.  And so after a love affair of over 60 years, my grandparents are finally reunited in eternity. 

Sixty-eight years: three wars, many long deployments with only a letter or Red Cross for communication; three children; a nomadic lifestyle in Africa, Germany, and Japan; alcoholism.  It is enough to make a modern-day newlywed cringe- how can a marriage survive that much volatility? 

After the funeral concluded, my mom and I spoke about the definition of a “perfect wedding,” and what it means today. Today, a perfect wedding is defined as one in which every detail goes according to plan- the flowers are perfect, the song is just right, the cake is a work of art, the napkins are folded just so, and your vegan guest has a special meal prepared.  After all the time, money and fanfare though, what is left?   You walk out into the world as husband and wife, just like every other married couple. 

A wedding is more than an event, my mom inferred, a wedding is a lifetime.
A lifetime spent living one day to the next, steering through life’s challenges, all the while loving each other. A lifetime spent having children, working jobs, going to church, helping others.  A lifetime spent holding one another despite adversity or disagreements.

My grandparents had a basic wedding with a handmade dress made of material the queen would not choose; there was no photographer. To my grandfather, she was the handsomest most beautiful bride in the world, and until the day she died, he truly felt that way about her each and every day.

Their marital possessions included what fit in a suitcase. Off they went on a train to start a new life together. And yet after a meager beginning, they managed to carve a life for themselves over the course of many decades. I haven’t a clue how they survived the rough patches, but they did. Giving up was never an option, no matter how hard things were; marriage was not  
synonymous with furniture- if it breaks get new one.

Three children, eleven grandchildren, and numerous great grandchildren are a piece of the pie with which their success can be measured. All of us have wonderful memories and stories to share of the resiliency of their relationship.  Up to the end of their lives together, the love they had for each other was evident to anyone who witnessed them together. 

Today our challenges are similar, yet packaged differently. Communication is more instantaneous in a separated relationship. There are more books and seminars and retreats and all kinds of things out there. Look at all my grandparents survived, with none of that intervention? 

I am not writing this for sympathy; I am writing this because their love and perseverance  are so scarce in today’s world. Marriage has become fast food instead of homemade.  It is too easy to walk away when things get hard (a mantra infecting all facets of life).  My grandparents may not be a part of my world anymore, but there is still so much their lives can teach me. And with any luck, maybe you too.  

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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Spaghetti Surprise!

It was a typical Monday in our little abode.  We struggled to get up after  nice weekend of nothing in particular; breakfast needed eaten, clothes changed, school lunch made.  I walked with my son to first grade, and then shuttled my youngest off base to his preschool.

The day progressed fairly normally and without incident. Throughout the day I was plagued with the proverbial question on most mother’s minds- what am I going to make for dinner.  I stared into the refrigerator and freezer searching for the answer. I walked into our pantry-laundry-room-entry-hall and stared at the non-perishables, but still no ideas.

 After a while, as if pregnant with a hankering for something,  I decided upon cornbread. Mmmm, warm cornbread with butter and honey.  Chili worn normally accompany this, however I was unprepared, naturally, to make it (that and it wasn’t cold enough to enjoy the benefits of chili, according to my husband’s sense of right and wrong). So what to accompany it? I once again consult my refrigerator and freezer, hoping my firm desire of cornbread inspires my appliance to give me an answer.   Green beans; green beans can go with cornbread right?  Good; now for one last thing to round the plate out.   I walk back to my multipurpose room and Bisquick jumps out at me with its recipe for chicken tenders. That’s it! I’ve got my balanced dinner.


When school was over the kids and I made the cornbread to have that out of the way before gymnastics. Once home, I could get the chicken done in about 20 minutes. The cornbread was sounding better every time I thought about it. I could not wait!  

Off we went to gymnastics, a short bike ride away. Once class was over we, naturally, came home. As I opened the door to our house my ears and nose detected activity in the kitchen.  I walked in to find my husband at the stove cooking polish sausage and spaghetti noodles, and warming up sauce. My first thought was not how nice it was to have him making a meal unasked, but how I was not going to have cornbread for dinner! My warm, yummy blue corn cornbread with butter and honey.         

I mentally stormed down the hall to put something away, annoyed my dinner plans had been changed without consult. How could he think I could forget? Providing meals is part of the job description.  As I walked back down the hall, ready to face a meal I am not overly fond of (otherwise known as a fall-back meal in my house), I realized how childish I was being. How many wives would  do anything for their husbands to open a can of soup! Here was mine, cooking a me! Akin to our disagreement on how apples should be cut for a pie (he says cubed, I say sliced), I was quibbling. I should be so lucky!

And you know what? I am. 

I walked in to the kitchen, gave him a big hug, sat down with him at the table, at ate that entire bowl of spaghetti and sausage. 

Be grateful when your husband makes spaghetti for you!

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