Today June 19, 2013 marks the day my mother and father would have been married to each other for 47 years. My dad passing in May 2011 robbed them of year 46 and 47. They essentially lived together longer than they lived apart. They weathered every type of life event as a team, as a unit (albeit not always agreeing on everything) and tackled their experiences as a collective force. It is still hard for my mother to live on this planet without the comfort and mere physical presence of my father. Their relationship has also made me look at my own marriage and that of my contemporaries and wonder whether my union stands up to the same rigorous and unfaltering standards.
I think my parents (and so many of their generation) got married for very different reasons than so many of us do today. They were bound by this sense of duty and commitment to uphold the traditions of their families. I don't think they had much choice in the matter and yet, as several of their friends and even close relatives threw in the towel in the early 80′s, my parents remained solid, strong and committed. It was almost as though they were tethered to each other through some sort of magnetic attraction. Believe me their marriage was full of flaws and yet being married 14 years I now see their love much more clearly. I now have such a deeper appreciation for their ability to remain so convicted and allied to one another -- through periods that would test the endurance of any relationship.
I watched my mother sit by my father's hospital bedside for hours on end during his final days just singing to him in the hopes that perhaps he'd be able to hear her. And in those moments that seemed like the purest of love transpiring between them I also remembered the darker moments when they fought and seemed at such opposite ends of the spectrum that no amount of love could possibly bind them back to one another. Yet they stayed together for 45 years despite the differences and challenges their relationship held. I think back to when those dark moments seemed as though they'd envelop my parents whole and break them apart and how their allegiance to one another never wavered. Their devotion to one another has forced me to look at my own marriage and whether it too could sustain a lifetime.
I wonder if my marriage has the same longevity and do we even regard marriage and our loyalty to it in the same fierce way our parents did ?