Today is the day my family began.
Not in the larger sense. There have been folks with my name or some variant of it around for centuries. No, I’m talking about my specific family. It began today, 58 years ago. When two young people got dressed up and took their vows to love and honor and cherish each other that evening. From this moment on there is a lot of “stuff” waiting for them. Much good, some bad. Much happy but their fair share of pain and anger too.
There are lots of times to choose when you want to remember someone. You can choose the day they were born. The day they joined the world. That makes a certain kind of sense. Or you can go the other way. I’ve never understood choosing they day they died. It never feels right to me.
What is most important to me about those two young people (I must be getting old because they look like damn children to my eyes) is that they are my parents. The center of my family for most of my life and two people I continue to love and admire all these years later. So the appropriate day to remember them is the day they decided to be a family. Just over two years later (two years and 8 days to be precise) that family would grow by one. Fourteen months later by another. Fourteen months after that once more. Then, as my mother always said, they figured out what was causing it and knocked it off! I don’t believe her.
When you’re a kid your parents are just your parents. They are as far beyond understanding as gravity. They just are. I had the chance to get to know them a little as people before they died. Since then I’ve read letters and memorabilia that have allowed me to get to know them a little better still. I’ve learned about fears and uncertainties that would have been beyond my comprehension as a child. I see their flaws more clearly and admire their strengths all the more.
My parents were human. Flawed and struggling with lives that weren’t exactly what they’d expected. I know that feeling well. Perhaps to my surprise I find I love them a little more for that humanity. I also miss them a little more because I understand them better and I know they would understand me now better too.
If I had five more minutes with them I would tell them how much I love them. Then I’d spend the rest of the time telling them about their granddaughter. She would have loved them at this point in her life and they would have loved her. They would have pissed each other off too but that’s part of being family.
I think of my parents virtually every day. Today especially I shall remember them. Because today we became a family.