Sunday, September 14, 2008


Fifty years ago today, on Sunday, September 14, 1958, my dad worked the graveyard shift at Riegelwood Paper Company, went to church with my mom and her family, and after the service, Dad and Mom got married. There was a small reception at the church, but they skipped it to go to Myrtle Beach, where they stayed overnight. They returned home on Monday, because Dad had to go back to work.

Yesterday, we had a family gathering to celebrate Dad and Mom's golden anniversary. I got the planning going for this nearly a year ago, and after several iterations, we settled on simplicity. After all, my dad and mom are very private people who intensely despise any hint of limelight.

Friday night, Lisa and I picked up two of our three kids at the Raleigh-Durham airport. Andy, having just started his first semester at Purdue, elected to stay in West Lafayette. Gigi and David's flight from Chicago was scheduled to arrive at 10:08, and we planned to drive on to Mom and Dad's in Whiteville, two-and-a-half hours away, rather than drive an hour back to Greensboro. We wanted to let the kids spend as much time with Mom and Dad as possible, since they had to fly back today.

Well, Hurricane Ike intervened, and that 10:08 flight arrived at midnight. They didn't have any checked luggage, so we were out of the airport in very good order. We wanted a bite to eat and had seen a sign on I-40 for a Wendy's, but we got lost for a short while looking for that restaurant. Happily, once we got back to the interstate, we found another Wendy's at the next exit. So, a quick trip to the drive thru window, four sandwiches, four cups of water, an order of fries, and a frosty later, and we were back on the road.

We got to Dad and Mom's at 3:00 am yesterday morning.

Yesterday evening at 5:00, almost 20 of us met at Dale's Seafood at Lake Waccamaw -- unfortunately, the view was the parking lot rather than the lake, because they don't reserve the lake side -- and between us, my brother Ken and I treated our extended family to a nice seafood dinner. Then, we all went back to Mom and Dad's. Lisa, the kids, and I left the restaurant first, because we needed to put the punch together. I forgot the code to the alarm system, and I was sure the security company would call, I'd fail the challenge, and the party would be spoiled when everyone came downtown to stand my bail. Mom and Dad came to the rescue, by driving up and giving us the code.

We had our punch, a really nice cake that my sister-in-law Susan bought, and for the next couple of hours, Mom and Dad were the center of eating, conversation, and hundreds (if not thousands) of pictures (gotta love digital cameras). We had a few gifts for them, a Ruth's Chris Steakhouse gift certificate and tickets to a Le Grande Cirque performance. I would have done more for them, but in the same way that they dislike being the center of attention, they didn't want much in the way of gifts. It was a celebration for them, so I honored their request.

This morning, we had to leave earlier than I wanted to, but Gigi and David had a flight from Raleigh to Chicago scheduled to leave at 12:30 pm. We were on the road just before 8:45, and we were pulling into RDU just after 11:00. The departure board at the United ticketing area showed that their flight was on schedule. After we got the boarding passes and got Gigi and David to security, we checked the departure board again before settling down to wait until their flight was in the air. Their flight was now DELAYED. The Midwest was experiencing very heavy rains; this evening, several Chicago expressways are closed due to flooding. The flight didn't leave until about 2:45, and once they got to Chicago, the flooding interfered with their drive home. In fact, they didn't get home until almost 9:00 pm our time. My poor kids had a hectic travel weekend, but it was in a good cause.

Now, it's time for a short, maudlin note:

Mom and Dad,

Congratulations on 50 years together. You inspire and challenge me to be as constant and attentive in my marriage as you are in yours, and I hope that I have been half as successful a parent as you have.

Your loving son,

No comments: