Today is the 60th wedding anniversary of my mother and father-in-law. This post is a tribute to them.
To my mother-in-law and father-in-law:
Today is a huge milestone in both of your lives. Your 60th wedding anniversary! My wish for you is happiness and rich blessings for evermore.
I first met you in 1978 when I began dating your son. You welcomed me into your home with more kindness and love than I could have ever imagined. I already knew before meeting you that you had raised two wonderful children and so you had to be pretty wonderful people yourselves. Still I was nervous. Very nervous. Would I meet your expectations? Would I be “good enough” for your son?
Over the eight years that I dated your son, you both were nothing but over the moon nice to me. You were the supportive type of parents to both your son and me as we moved through college and beyond. And when we became engaged to be married, you seemed genuinely happy for both of us.
One night that stands out in my mind is a night that happened over 30 years ago. It was early June of 1982. I had been dating your son for about four years. We were very much in love and knew at that time that we wanted to be married and as I recall we became engaged just a short time later. At the time, he had earned his first college degree and was working at a family friend’s Texaco gas station where he had worked since he was 15. He had started nursing school and I was to start veterinary school that fall. The station closed at 10 pm and he usually worked til closing. He just about ALWAYS called me at 10:30 every night when he arrived home from work. That night, your son was late in getting home from work which wasn’t like him. That night, your son didn’t call me at 10:30 pm which wasn’t like him. I worried. A little before 11 pm, I received a call from you, asking me if I had heard about “what had happened.” I was then told that you had received a phone call that Rick had been shot in an attempted robbery. He had been taken to General Hospital. That’s all we knew. You informed me you both were heading to the hospital and asked if I wanted to come too, that you would pick me up shortly. Of course I wanted to go! I remember hanging up the phone and “falling to pieces” in my mother’s arms. I didn’t know how critical this situation might be, if my future husband was dead or alive, or where he had been shot. I remember scrambling to get dressed and hollering for my mother to call my boss to tell him what had happened and that I probably wouldn’t be at work the following day. And I remember a scream coming out of my mouth when my mother was making that phone call– a scream that I didn’t even realize I was making.
What I remember most about that night in the car on the way to the hospital is how calm you both were. I was in awe. This was your son and though I know you had to be frightened out of your wits, you both remained calm and didn’t panic. Never once. Your calm demeanor calmed ME down. We arrived at the hospital emergency room where there were other family members and friends nervously waiting to hear some kind of news. We were not allowed to go back to see your son. I remember my very polite but concerned father-in-law, who had trained and worked as an X-ray tech at that same hospital, informing the staff in a very stern voice that “he WAS going back.” He was a concerned father and he wanted to know what was going on with his son. I took a seat with my future mother-in-law in the waiting room. And we waited. We waited to hear something… anything. That waiting was torture. I remember a hospital employee bringing out a large paper bag and handing it to a family member. It was opened and in that bag were the clothes your son had been wearing when he had been shot– the clothes that the paramedics had cut off his body in the ambulance. I remember breaking down and crying when I saw those clothes… and the blood. We learned your son had been shot in the leg during an attempted holdup as he tried to make a night deposit for the gas station at a nearby Third National Bank. He had driven up to the night depository and was about to make the deposit when a ski-masked gunman who had hidden behind a bush, rushed toward the car. As Rick tried to speed off, the angry gunman fired several shots into the car. One of the bullets struck him in the upper thigh. On the way to the bank that evening, Rick had seen a police car just down the road. He drove straight to that police officer who reported he had heard the shots. Rick hadn’t realized he had even been shot until he looked down and saw the hole in his pants leg. I guess due to his adrenaline rush, he wasn’t feeling pain, or not then anyway. Finally, after what seemed like hours, we were called back to see our beloved gunshot victim. I remember being struck by the paleness of his face (we had been to the lake the day before and had both been badly sunburned and Rick, who was very fair-skinned, had been particularly sunburned on his face). That sunburn was NOWHERE to be seen that night. The paleness of traumatic shock had overcome his body. They lifted the sheet and showed us his very swollen leg which was now bigger than the trunk of my body. Rick was trembling all over, his left ear still ringing loudly from the loud blasts of gunshots that had gone off right next to his head. I remember him bravely trying to smile– his main goal I’m sure was trying not to alarm us…. to keep us calm. He was kept that night for observation and given fluids and shock treatment. The bullet was removed the following day and he recovered completely. There would be no more night deposits made from then on. I think we counted 6 bullet holes in his car. God was watching out for him that night. Thirty years later, as I sit here typing this, I’m still amazed at how calm you both were that night and how you “held it together.”
Three years later, when I went on to marry your son, you both welcomed me into your family with open arms. I knew I was getting the best mother and father-law ever. To this day, I’ve never forgotten the “welcome into the family” greeting I got from my “new” father-in-law before the wedding recessional march was even over. My brand new husband and I had just recessed out of the church and were standing on the front steps on our tiptoes looking into the church at the rest of our wedding party recessional. My father-in-law approached me with a big smile on his face, embraced me, and kissed me on the cheek and told me he was getting the prettiest daughter-in-law ever. That made me feel so special. I knew I was blessed indeed.
You two have always been supportive of your son and me during the 27 years of our marriage. And when kids came along, your 2nd and 3rd grandsons, I learned how blessed my sons were to have grandparents like you. You have been the best grandparents EVER and I cherish the times we’ve spent together– the many trips we’ve taken together (never a dull moment!), the holidays we’ve spent together and ALL the times we’ve shared. There have been ups and down, good times and bad. You’ve supported your grandchildren their entire lives– coming to elementary, middle, and high school events, watching them in karate classes, their prom presentations, and coming to graduations. And when there were accidents or illnesses like broken arms and high fevers, you were always there sitting in the E.R. with us, always keeping me calm as you did the night your son was shot.
I just want to say how much I love you two and though this may sound like such a cliché, though I don’t meant it to be….. you have always been like second parents to me. My own parents passed on, and while I grieve for them and miss them, I have felt truly blessed to still have my “other” parents. I could not have asked for better, nicer, or more loving in-laws and I thank God for having you both in my life. I cringe when I hear people making the typical mean-spirited in-law jokes and I feel a true sadness for those who don’t or who weren’t able to experience the kind of loving relationship I have experienced with the two of you.
Thank you for the good examples you have always set in my life, your son’s life, and your grandson’s lives, for always being supportive and going above and beyond for all of us.
It seems like yesterday that we were celebrating your 50th anniversary, your golden. And here we are 10 years later on your 60th!
I wish you both a happy 60th wedding anniversary. May you be blessed with many, many more.
I love you both,