Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Forty years

This past Sunday was my parents' 40th wedding anniversary.

Forty years ago, on a Monday, my father asked my mother to marry him. She said yes, and that Saturday they tied the knot. He was on his way to Vietnam.

Their wedding album does not betray the rush job of the ceremony. It looks like the event had been planned for months. My mother's mother, Honey, was a brilliant seamstress. In five days, she made my mother's wedding dress and three bridesmaids' dresses. For a wedding in Mississippi. She was in Arkansas.

There were flowers. Cake. Guests. A preacher. There were wedding announcements instead of invitations, but the church was full nonetheless.

After the wedding, they loaded all of their belongings and went to Oklahoma for my dad's brief bit of training before leaving for Vietnam. When he left for the war, my mother moved in with her new in-laws.

Every night, she and my grandfather would stay up and watch the nightly news. Every night they would pray together that there was no news.

Then there was the one night where there was news.

Momma only knew bits of information about Daddy when he was in Vietnam. Never where he was, but always the name of the operation. That night, on the news, they reported that the unit on operation-one-my-dad-was-on had been ambushed and there were no survivors. She and Granddaddy sat in silence until he took her hand, looked at her, and said, "You wouldn't hear it on the news first. The Army would have sent someone. They always send someone first."

No one slept.

At 3:00 AM, the phone rang. It was Daddy. He had been left behind in the camp to make whatever plans an artillery captain makes and man the radio. He was alive and the only survivor in his unit.

Shortly thereafter, my daddy took the LSAT in Saigon with a pistol strapped to his hip. He entered law school and got the hell out of Vietnam and the hell out of the army. He and Momma moved to Oxford, Mississippi, and my Bro was born about a year later.

For forty years, Momma and Daddy have loved each other enough to weather all kinds of storms. They loved each other through raising two oh so wonderful, but yet incredibly trying children (that would be moi and Bro). He has loved her through three battles with cancer. She has loved him even as she watches pieces of him slip away into Alzheimer's.

They make me want to have a successful marriage. They want me to have a successful marriage. They love Guy and love how good we are together. They see some of themselves I hope. Because if they do, we are going to a-ok.

Happy Anniversary, y'all. I love you.