Paying Tribute To Mom & Dad After 65 Years


I was in Wisconsin a few weeks ago for my parents’ 65th wedding anniversary dinner. In tribute, we kids all stood up and told what it was like growing up in our house. Then, as a rebuttal, my father stood up and told what it was like having to raise the four of us kids.

Fun times.

No, actually, everyone was on their best behavior and no one tried to humiliate anyone else. After all, mom never would’ve forgiven us for doing that in front of all her best friends. (We saved those stories until we got back to the house.)

I am the eldest, so I stood up first and told how mom and dad were only 22 when I was born and how they didn’t have enough money for a crib, so they put me in a dresser drawer.

“For decades, I worried about my little baby self in that top drawer, hanging out into space and hoping no one would close the drawer,” I said. “When mom found this out she said, ‘Oh, for heaven’s sake, Debbie! We put the drawer on the floor!’”

Then dad stood up and told about how they didn’t own a car in those early years. In fact, when mom said, “I think it’s time to call a taxi and go to the hospital. My water just broke,” my father told her they could save time and money by walking to the hospital, since it was only two blocks away. So they did.

It was February… in Wisconsin! I’m lucky I didn’t fall out and stick to the sidewalk.

Next, my brother Dave stood up and rolled up his pants leg to show everyone the argyle socks he was wearing. Mom had knitted them for dad as an engagement gift, and they’ve been cared for and mended and loved for more than 65 years. “I like to think of these socks as a symbol of their marriage,” Dave said. “Mom and dad have cared for, mended and loved each other that long, too.”

Each of us kids has a pair of those socks. Mom gave them to us a few years back, just trying to clean up, but we all treasure them dearly. I hang one of mine up on the mantel at Christmastime. Beige and limp, it looks kind of funny among all the stiff, furry, contemporary red-and-green ones, but it’s my favorite by far. I don’t even care if Santa fills it up. I love it just the way it is.

We kids also told how dad made the money, but mom made sure none of it was wasted. She’d walk to the hospital, sew our clothes, stretch a pound of hamburger meat to last a week, whatever it took. I told how dad would cut open the toothpaste tubes to make sure we used every last bit.

“They were lead tubes back then, but none of us suffered any ill effects… Well, maybe my brother Jim,” I said.

OK, so maybe not all of us were on our best behavior. After all, we’re only kids.