My father, Edward, entered the Navy at 17. Ed served in the South Pacific on a submarine.
He came home with tattoos on each shoulder. (Tattoos that became identifying tools when pointing him out to my friends at the pool.) He came home with hearing loss due to working in the sub’s diesel engine room.
|Battle of Leyte Bay, Manilla|
He came home brotherless. Ed’s brother, Herbert, was killed when a kamikazee rammed Herb’s aircraft carrier.
Ed came home motherless. His mother died suddenly while he was on the other side of the world.
He was homeless because his father, a WWI vet, suffered a debilitating stroke. He now lived in a Veteran’s home.
He came home to a sweetheart that said NO to his first marriage proposal!
But, she quickly changed her mind and would become my mother.
From NO to 62 years….what was the key?
|Mary and Ed, 1945|
Aside from their shared faith, the key to my parents’ marriage included:
Deck of Cards
Hoyle’s Book of Rules
Fishing line and worms
Coffee Can Full of Frogs
Jarts (lethal lawn darts)
For 62 years, my mom and dad played together.
They first met when they were at their playing prime, 11 years of age. Mary and Ed spent the late 1930’s riding bikes and roller skating. They began their lifelong romance with recreation. It only made sense that’s how they maintained their spark in marriage.
Sparks flew, alright. In preparing for a weekend of family camping, there was bickering over who forgot to pack the toilet paper. If it was an unfamiliar campground, there was a spat over directions. There were heated discussions over where to hang the clothes line. Later in the evening, they slipped off for a midnight cruise of the lake.
Even with dissension, neither stomped away mad. Name calling never happened and no voices were raised. They were feisty. But, they showed consideration in their dispute. Even with dissension, they were a team. They could stake a tent in pitch dark and launch a boat in a minute flat.
My dad could zing a one-liner. He diffused situations with a witty word. We laughed a lot as a family. Mom was forthright, but tactful, about all life’s aspects. She never played coy games. From the spiritual to the nitty gritty of bodily functions to sex, all were acceptable subjects.
When memories of my parents bubble to the surface, they are either hugging/smooching, laughing or arguing! In spite of their conflictual relationship, they communicated well with each other. It could be their constant debates facilitated communication.
One more key…..
When my marriage began, mom was in her mid-60’s. She would salt her speech with ideas that sex was important to a marriage. She’d say, “sex makes you close.” “It’s very special.” “It’s good to have fun with sex.” I began to wonder what they were doing on those late night cruises of Lake Cumberland?
I didn’t understand what she was telling me until later in my marriage. Sex is essential and is a two way street. For the man, it involves sharing his feelings and having conversation. For the lady, it involves enthusiastic participation in sexual fulfillment. And by enthusiastic, I mean being more involved than a rigid tent stake.
Living with my marriage mentors for 18 years, I witnessed the best sermon on marriage. Conflict can be resolved. Variety and playing together is the spice of life. Love and acceptance is the best atmosphere in which to live. Sex and laughter is the best way to bind.
The Rest of the Story….
Feb. 21, 2008, Ed lost half of himself. My mom succumbed to a 7 year battle with dementia. His selfless and gentle care of his confused wife was a love story like no other. (Now that she is gone, dad sometimes reminisces sweetly about the frisky intimate life they had.)
My funny, firm and brilliant father currently lays in a nursing home confined from a massive stroke. He didn’t lose his mental capacity, just strength on his left side. My hero confesses that he lived a great life. He had loss in the beginning, but was then blessed abundantly. Because of his faith, he looks forward to the sweet and glorious future.
I can only HOPE that I am passing along Ed & Mary’s legacy to their grandsons with love and laughter and the occasional sex talk.
|Dad & Bonny|
PLEASE share stories of your favorite veteran as a tribute…..