A little known fact, today would be my parents wedding anniversary. I would not know this had I not asked my mom once. They never celebrated this day. In fact, when I asked my mom she had to reach back to the furthest edges of her memory to retrieve this date. More fact, my mother never wore a wedding ring. She never had one and neither did my father. Their “wedding” was in Reno, NV in front of a justice of the peace, shortly after my mother’s divorce to her previous husband was complete. She was also already pregnant with me. To add to all of this, my dad was a new widow with two young boys, my brothers Daren and Randy.
When looking at those facts, it is easy to imagine why my parents struggled throughout their marriage. They were coming together in circumstances that were already strained. Throughout my life, I wondered so many times how they could have gotten so far off track from one another. They seemed two people, on different planes who had once loved each other, probably still did but never learned how to be friends.
In my world, the perfect one you imagine as a child, I saw them so clearly. They were two beautiful people. Dad, tall and lanky, handsome with soft blue eyes and an even softer heart. A James Dean. Mother, dark and petite, pretty with piercing blue eyes, a fiery spirit and a clever mind. An Elizabeth Taylor. In this perfect world, they were talented beyond belief. My dad, an entrepreneur and environmentalist before it was hip, knew the value of the land he loved to farm and the animals that lived upon it. His patience and wisdom were quietly practiced as he rode out the roughest of circumstances that mother nature and life presented him. He could fix anything. He could build anything. He was an engineer, a mechanic, a mathematician and a doctor as he helped birth animals and care for them. He was a farmer, a father, a son, a brother and yes, a husband. Mother also had an entrepreneurial spirit and loved to create. Often, the creative ideas started in her mind, came to fruition but found themselves only half complete before she was onto a new idea. She was beyond talented with a sewing machine, reinvented and refurbished furniture and was an interior designer before there was ever a Joanna Gaines.
In my perfect world, the one you imagine as a child, they could have been Chip and Joanna Gaines. The ideas were there. The drive and initiative had once been there. The brawn mixed with the beauty, the hands to go with the brain. They had it. Or they could have had it. They should have had it.
I believe that they both realized this far too late.
There were so many mistakes that caused irreparable damage, that made it hard to make their way back. There was too much pride and ego and not enough humble and real. Don’t get me wrong, my parents were never boastful and they lived through some, well a lot of “real” life struggles. What I mean is, they never learned to look to one another for strength, for vision and for understanding. They lived apart but together. They were doomed from the beginning.
Of course, we could look at their lives and we could blame their mom, their dad, the sun, the moon or a unicorn. You get my idea, it did not matter the reason(s), it only mattered that they spent their lives in a way that did not serve them. Serve their family. Serve us. Or most sadly, they never found a way to serve each other in a way that fulfilled their soul as a couple, which would have spilled over to us.
All of that transitioned to us in a way that also left us in a spot where we could blame our mom, our dad, the sun, the moon or a unicorn for the wrongs of our life. But here is the truth: we choose our path(s). Yes, our childhood(s) affect us, but they should never define us.
Mistakes? I’ve made so many. Too many to count. Some I would like to change and others, I would never change but they are still considered “mistakes”. My parents made mistakes also. Many of them. They affected us but I have to say (with some pride) that they have not defined us.
The sliver lining? There is always a silver lining even though at times there may have been a dark cloud first. So our silver lining? Our parents. Dad brought us Daren and Randy and for that, I am forever thankful for these two real-life heroes, especially Randy. I am not sure what would have happened to us at times if not for him. His life was, well, far from perfect but he was a perfect brother in unperfect times.
And my younger siblings also here because of my parents. What would I be today if not for them? They have helped me to become who I am today. Lon taught me that you can rise above circumstance(s). Roxy gave me initiative, she is the reason I am a nurse today. Dawn taught me humility, and fashion (never again will I wear a Mickey Mouse shirt as an adult ;). Ally taught me perseverance and strength, something she had to learn at a tender age. And Chad, he has taught me the art of silence and that not all things need to be said (or heard). And Randy, well, he molded us into who we are. He taught us from a young age that you can be young but so impactful to those around you, even in the toughest of circumstances.
Of course, I have written many blog posts about my siblings, about how much I adore them and value them. Of course, we have never been perfect siblings, we have at times been each others worst enemy but we have also been each others guardian angel and lifelong advocate.
The silverest of linings though? We learned first hand that not every family has a June and Ward Cleaver. We learned that not every day is life fair. And, we learned that we are not guaranteed the family we are given, they can and will be taken from us at some point and that right there is the reason that we, as a family are pretty amazing. We get life in all its messiness and in all its dysfunction. We get that fractures can lead to lifelong scars but that there is always healing that happens, though the injury may always be in our memory, and leave a print within our bodies.
So our silver lining was indeed our parents. It is amazing that often the very things that you thought the worst parts of your life, have truly lead you to the best parts. In their own way, silver linings are a mirror in their own image, often manifesting the worst, and best of life, and of us.
Today, in my perfect world, my parents are there, together; building, dreaming, loving and living the life they could have had. Should have had.