My parents were married for exactly 52 years and had dated for seven or eight years prior to that. That they loved each other deeply, I had no doubt. That Valentines Day was just another day of the week, I also never doubted.
My father’s birthday was two days later. He never wanted a fuss made but we’re big on birthdays.
I learned to give him a present that I would want to own. Normally he always gave the presents back. We were never insulted.
I didn’t think of my parents as a formidable couple when I was young. Basically I was embarrassed by their seeming inability to care what anybody else thought about them. I understood that people liked them, and took it for granted because I liked them also.
One year my father gave my mother a chocolate heart for Valentines Day. She made a very big deal of it, and kept it in its plastic and cardboard cover for years until it became too gross for anybody to look at.
My father gave my mother presents when he felt like, or when she desired something, or when they were off in some country that had just opened its first four or five star hotel.
My father was good like that. The money that he made was our family’s not his. He was something more than generous. That part of my father is complicated, and best seen by example in my book.
When my parents met as teenagers during the depression, my mother’s friends made fun of my father. They thought he was too tall and skinny, too poor, a nerdy student who worked to help support his family, and then save for a proper marriage.
“Oh, but he’s going to make something of himself,” she would think but usually not say as she wanted her friends to be satisfied with their boyfriends who definitely weren’t going to be professionals.
She loved his cousins and best friend, who poor or not, were going to be professionals.
And she adored, the other Pawnees, my father’s club name, who had all been friends and known each other since infancy and/or were his relatives.
The first time my father went to my mother’s house, when she was sixteen and he seventeen, he was so nervous and amazingly well mannered that my grandparents couldn’t help but be charmed.
My mother had a brother and two younger sisters. My grandmother, who seemed to make all the decisions, decided that only three could afford to go to college.
She took it for granted that my parents would marry, and my mother, the one with the best grades and the true love for education ended up being the only one of her siblings without, at least, a Bachelor’s Degree.
My grandmother said that my mother would become self-educated for life, and she was right. My mother was so ashamed she told both Elka and I that she had two years at Brooklyn College.
After we graduated from college, she denied ever having said that. My father just smiled.
When my mother began to work full time, she made friends with girls who had boyfriends who were going to make something of themselves, though not professionals. My parents made their second group, of many groups. of lifetime mutual friends.
I would watch my mother put on makeup, then a little black cocktail dress from her collection, the real pearls that would be stolen later, a pair of her size four shoes, and I would dream of being an adult so that I could go to cocktail parties, and dinners that lasted until three AM, with mandatory card games after the meal.
I began buying vintage rayon dresses and velvet gowns when I was eighteen. I was an enigma as a hippie as I was so well dressed, but boys especially the only one who counted loved my look.
It was nothing like my mother’s look, but very much inspired by the cocktail dresses of my childhood. I was embarrassed by my parents my first year of college for any number of reasons.
I never thought of my parents house as a comfortable place to socialize. Though they constantly had company, dinners and holiday meals.
Even I would bring groups, usually just of boys, home. My parents were proud of my knack for attracting boys.
As I wanted to please my parents without actually communicating with them, and the boys loved both the food and arguing with my father, this was a perfect every six week solution.
It was a well decorated house, with many interesting touches to other people. It was stilted to me with only the rec room, and my father’s office comfortable. People ask if the red burlap wallpaper is still up.
My sister bought the house, when our mother moved several years after our father died. Yes as is the leopard skin wallpaper in the study closet.
You don’t want to know what my parents bedroom looked like when I was a teenager. The wallpaper was red with red velvet flocking found in any better Chinese restaurant. It was a bedroom that spelled out “we might be old but we do it.” They weren’t that old, and I never thought of them as older than any other parents.
No other parents had a bedroom that looked like Valentines Day. The headboard was a gold leafed, thorny twig abstract shaped heart. I always knew that it was stunning, but not something that I chose to take.
What did my parents need Valentines Day for? They weren’t the most overtly romantic couple except when making out, dancing or teasing each other.
They had something so rare and special, my mother refused all dates and offers after my father died.
Usually widows do the pursuing. My cute little mother just smiled and…. I wish I could have bottled her essence.
Really though. Couldn’t my father have replaced the chocolate heart just once?
I think not. I think that was one of the things that made my parents marriage special. A private joke that was neither Elka nor my business.
This was for my parents. My real Valentines Day post that’s not a sentimental look at it will be up on Wednesday. 3WW will be on Friday, because I seemed to confuse too many people by posting it on Wednesday. I might ask for a subject as well as the words.
Ted Haggard was cured of his homosexuality in three weeks. Guess faith based counseling truly works. In 21 days your genetic code can be changed. Wow, what implications for society.
Read the Wombat and my Boston Legal blog
Hillary said yesterday that we must begin a debate on when the Iraq war will end. Am I the only person who thinks that time for a debate passed a long,long time ago? While I understand what’s she’s trying to do, I think it’s wrong. She was a strong person and I liked her for that.
Here’s Bob Herbert, one of my two favorite Times columnists
But I think that I’m much more excited about how faith based counseling can cure homosexuality in 21 days than the presidental election. Next they will take on liberals “You can be cured of your desire for peace, your misunderstanding of our president, your ignorant belief that the world is round and was created by evolution. You can believe in creationism.
You’re not Christian? We can change your outlook on religion. Oh you don’t believe in God?
You will believe in God. Just give us 21 days and most of your assets. You won’t need money as we can teach you how to get much money without doing any work.
You like to read books that have depth? We can cure that in a week for only $20,000.
Smoke? We can stop those urges as simply as we cure alcoholism, and drug addiction.
Can’t learn properly. Let us rewire your brain. Simple. It will only cost you all your assets including your house but think of everything that you will get back.
We can teach you to lie, cheat, and do other morally right things for only 30K and two weeks.”
Back in the real world a habit is supposed to be established in 21 days. It doesn’t often work but we don’t have divine intervention.
If you have stayed with me this long, here’s an article
on the cultural differences between conservatives and liberals.
Why do writers write? I know why I do. I can’t live without writing. I write for me, and that seems to be reason enough
But I need an audience and now I need a paying audience. My writing might not be mainstream but Nora Roberts is prolific enough for any ten msm writers.
Maureen Dowd wrote this weekend about how all books by women in stores seem to be in pink, uh, and are all the same lite fluff. For once I agreed with her about women