A Great Life
I've heard the saying, "The best gift parents
can ever give to their children is to love each
I've had the pleasure of witnessing the truth of
this statement for over 40 years. From as far back
as I can remember my Mom and Dad were a team. A
great partnership. They were more than just a partnership.
It was as if they were one person.
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Sure, they argued, but there was never any doubt
in our minds that any disagreements would be worked
through and resolved. Mom and Dad began their married
life poor, but they worked hard and over the years,
built a very successful business. They each had
their strengths and weaknesses, but the way they
worked together, you never saw the weaknesses, just
Dad was the outgoing, more public person with whom
people met and fell in love with right away. Everyone
knew Dad! Then, when they got to meet Mom, they
felt the exact same way about her as well. Mom,
although not at all shy, was more comfortable being
the person behind the scenes. More details oriented,
she ran the books and according to Dad, was the
one who really made the business work.
The biggest lesson about love and marriage that
my mom and dad taught us kids was how to talk "about"
your spouse. Have you ever heard husbands and wives
when speaking to others make unkind remarks about
their spouses? It's one of those things people just
seem to do. Sure, they're "only kidding"
or maybe they are not. But words matter. And words
teach, whether positively or negatively.
You would never hear such a thing from my mom and
dad. Dad always speaks of Mom in the most complimentary,
glowing terms. Mom does the same of him.
This lesson made such an impression on me. I still
remember when I was age twelve and we were installing
carpets in our home. The crew boss was one of those
stereotypical beer guzzling, hard-living guys, who
would have probably belonged to Ralph Kramden's
Raccoon Lodge from the old Honeymooner's TV show.
For lunch, my folks bought pizza for the crew. Dad
went to talk with the boss about the job. I was
around the corner listening.
The boss said, "This is an expensive job.
Women will really spend your money, won't they?"
Dad responded, "Well, I'll tell you. When they
were right there with you before you had any money,
it's a pleasure to do anything for them you possibly
can after you have some money."
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This wasn't the answer the carpet installer expected
to hear. He was looking for negative banter about
wives which, to him, was natural.
He tried again, "But, gee, they'll really play
off that and spend all they can, won't they?"
Dad replied, as I knew he would, "Hey, when
they're the reason you're successful, you want them
to do the things they enjoy. There's no greater
The crew boss tried one more time, "And they'll
take that as far as they can, huh?"
Dad responded, "She's the best thing that ever
happened to me. I'd do anything to make her happy."
I was trying not to laugh.
I knew he wanted Dad to give in just a little bit
and say, "Yeah, I guess that's true."
But it wouldn't happen… Not in a million years!
Finally, the installer gave up and went back to
work, probably shaking his head in bewilderment.
Witnessing my dad in that moment taught me more
about loving and respecting your wife than anything
he could ever have told me about the subject.
Mom and Dad are now retired and enjoying their
life together, just hanging out, reading, and visiting
their children and grandchildren. They recently
celebrated their 43rd wedding anniversary.
They still hold hands, and they are more in love
Throughout the years, whenever Mom would remind
me that I should be looking to get married, I'd
say, "Ma, I have plenty of time."
She'd jokingly reply that I don't have "that"
My Dad would then look at me in that wisdom-filled,
city streets bred way of his and say, "Hey,
you take all the time you need. If you marry someone
just half the woman your mother is, you'll have
a great life."
I should only be so lucky.
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