Happy (Or Not) Anniversaries
On our family calendar during any given year, June is typically the month with the most entries. It’s a month with once-blank squares for each day crammed full of important date reminders notated in various colors of markers, ball point pens, pencils and highlighters and featuring cartoon-like stars, hearts, underlines, arrows, exclamation points and big, chunky, 3D lettering to mark the importance of a looming milestone birthday, for example, like someone turning 50. Or 55. Or … never mind. Let’s just say that the local Hallmark shop rolls out the red carpet for us in June.
One recent week in particular, this month was crammed full with more milestone birthdays, anniversaries, weddings and miscellaneous events and celebrations than you can shake a Sharpie at. This one stretch alone, from June 10 through the 17, marked my father-in-law’s birthday, a niece’s birthday, our youngest son’s birthday and even my own birthday. If you’re playing along at home, Father’s Day also squeezed its celebratory little self into the end of this party-palooza of a week.
Following close by on the heels of this multi-celebration week was the milestone 10th anniversary of our eldest son and his beautiful bride. It’s humbling how the years seem to speed up the longer one has been married (my wife and I celebrated our own 27 year anniversary a mere two months ago).
In “only” 10 years, these two exemplary young people have worked hard to build a healthy, happy and loving family and in the process, have given my wife and me our first three grandchildren; quite the accomplishment in a culture increasingly accepting of non-committed couples and babies raised without fathers in their lives.
Speaking of fathers, as this edition of the paper hits the street, yet another anniversary of sorts will have passed, although this one is not so worthy of celebration. You see, this week marks 10 years since my own dad passed away after a long, all-too-private battle with cancer.
That he lost his hard-fought fight only days after our eldest son was married has traditionally made this week a bittersweet one filled with mixed emotions for the past 10 years.
I’ll always remember walking into the family room of my childhood home where Dad lay in a rented hospital bed, positioned in front of his beloved TV. Either his pain was too great or the morphine dose too heavy – or maybe a combination of both – but Dad didn’t respond in any way as I described our son’s wedding to him. Truth be told (and knowing him as well as I did), Dad most likely considered not having to attend a family wedding to be a welcome side effect of his condition.
To say that this tough, taciturn man was not one for sentimentality or emotional vulnerability would be a grand understatement. (It’s no wonder he never could understand me.) A few months before he died, in fact, I drove with him on a marathon, non-stop trip from La Crescenta up to my brother’s house in northern Oregon to help deliver a truck and trailer crammed full of tools and machinery Dad wanted my brother to inherit. On the mind-numbing drive up the coast and back, I tried several times to ask Dad about his childhood, early career, any particular cherished memories he might have at this stage of life – you know, the kind of thing you might expect a parent would want to pass along. No such luck. After my third or fourth attempt at such conversation, he barked, “Why would I want to talk about such things? You’ve been watching too much Oprah.” And that was that.
Man, it was a long, long drive home.
On a happier note, however, our family calendar pages next year will be even more jam-packed as we add not one, but two college graduations to our early summer celebrations.
Yep, we’re definitely gonna need a bigger calendar.
I’ll see you ‘round town.