Tuesday February 4th is my parents wedding anniversary. And this year would have been their 65th anniversary. But sadly, they are not still alive to celebrate it. I started thinking about this upcoming milestone recently when I realized that it was January exactly 15 years ago that my mom went into the hospital for the last time. My mom had been in and out of the hospital for the last several years of her life so it didn’t necessarily come as a surprise when she was hospitalized. What was unexpected was how it ended.
My mother was diabetic for a large part of her adult life. As she got older, she suffered as many diabetics do from foot problems due to nerve damage and reduced blood flow to the feet. And it was a foot problem that sent her to the hospital this last time.
Following an examination, the prognosis was not good; irreversible damage had been done to her toe and it was going to have to be removed. So on February 4th 1999—their 50th wedding anniversary—Mom went into surgery to have it removed. I wasn’t at the hospital with them that day so I don’t know if they had a quick toast to their 50 years of marriage together but I do know my dad was truly living that declaration that all married couples state—in sickness and in health.
The surgery that day was successful but upon follow-up, further damage to her foot was uncovered that led to more surgery. It seemed as if the infection that had started in her toe was eating away at her almost like a cancer and Mom ultimately died of septicemia at 11:00 PM on April 12th 1999.
And it was less than three years later that Dad also died from melanoma (A Glimpse of My Dad).
Fortunately my parents thought ahead before these fateful events took both their lives. Recognizing that the middle of winter would not be a good time to try to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary with us four kids spread all over the country, they planned a celebration for the summer of 1998 at a location that was special to all of us—Asheville, NC.
Seated at the Grove Park Inn, it was indeed a celebration with us four siblings present along with our spouses, almost all our children and some lifelong friends of Mom and Dad.
The four of us each wrote toasts to our parents and read them out to everyone at the dinner.
I kept a copy of my toast in the inside pocket of the suit jacket I wore that day but sadly the suit has long since been donated and despite diligent searching through old files and old computers, I could not find a copy. While I don’t recall the actual words I read, I know it was a tribute to Mom and Dad along with some humorous stories of how I had interacted with them over the years growing up.
Mom and Dad truly set an example of a long-term marriage and relationship together.
On this day, it is with sadness that I reflect on the death of my parents. But it is truly a blessing when I can think of the celebration of their life together and the family they jointly created. It was the union of these two young 22 year olds 65 years ago that brought all of us together on that sunny August day in 1998.
Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad!