Present Tense

Dear Mom and Dad: thanks for the genes….

This week, my parents are celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary.  I’ll let that sink in.  They’ve been married for 70 years.  To each other.

They are also approaching their 91st birthdays.  When I tell people those facts, they always say, “wow, you’ve got some good genes”.  Quite honestly, that scares the crap out of me. I’m not quite sure that I want to live that long.  We’ll see if I feel that way when I’m 89.

But, this isn’t about me (yet), it’s about them.  They were both born in 1920, both lost a parent as teenagers during of the Great Depression, lived through the hardship and fear of WWII, raised 4 kids and have always been absolutely committed to each other.

Betty and Louie still live in their house on five acres right next to where my dad grew up on the family farm.  My mom once told me that my dad’s greatest wish is that they die together or a day apart.  He can’t bear to think of life without my mom.  He and I have that in common, I guess.

I’m acutely aware that every day that we have them is a gift; every day that they have each other is an even bigger gift.  I struggle to accept that one day I will lose my parents, but while I have them, I want to acknowledge their guidance and influence that I finally appreciate now that I’m a grown-up.

I was the wild child and my mom often reminds me and anyone else who will listen, how difficult I was, particularly from ages 13-28.  That’s a long stretch, I know.  My siblings are 15, 13 and 11 years older than me, so I guess we can all deduce that I was unplanned.  I recently learned from my mom that a Valentine’s day gift from my dad lead to my conception.  He gave her a ring; I gave her years of trouble.

My parents leaned toward the ‘tough love’ school; no whining or excuses were allowed and no bailing me out when I got into trouble.  They believed that I could always do a little better if I applied myself.  I wasn’t punished for bringing home B’s or C’s, but they made it clear that A’s were preferred.  They let me explore all of my interests like sports, music, theater and writing without hovering or pushing.  They attended an occasional softball game, concert, play or musical, but only if I wanted them to.  There was no pressure to be anything other than what or who I was.

In a nutshell, my old-school parents raised 4 independent, productive and capable children.  They allowed us the freedom to pursue our interests, but they were clear that if we screwed up, we would suffer the consequences.  There were no phone calls to teachers, coaches, or other parents to fight our battles; we were responsible for our actions.  There were times as a kid, when I felt like they abandoned me, but as an adult these lessons have come in handy as I’ve had to deal with the fallout of my bad decisions.

So, while I’m grateful for the “good genes” that they’ve passed along to me, I’m more grateful for the guidance and patience that they employed in raising their youngest and most challenging child.  My mom taught me that smart, strong and confident is more important than pretty and popular. She is also responsible for my sense of humor, which has been my oxygen over the years.  My dad taught me the value of a dollar, to love animals and he instilled a sense of loyalty by raising me as a Detroit Lions fan.  If by chance, I do manage to make it to 90, I’ll carry those lessons for a very long time.

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad.

October 3, 2011 - Posted by | Musings | , , ,


  1. Jane,
    You have done it again what a Great Post. Congratulations to your Parents on their 70th wedding anniversary. They did a Great Job raising you as well.
    Marge Beem

    Comment by Marge Beem | October 3, 2011 | Reply

    • Thanks Marge! My hair looks great, by the way:)

      Comment by janelondon | October 3, 2011 | Reply

    • I am glad to hear you like it!!
      thank you for the Feedback!!

      Comment by Marge Beem | October 3, 2011 | Reply

  2. Love it! Your folks raised you right…that’s why you’re the no-nonesense Jane we know and love today! =)

    Comment by Angie Webb | October 3, 2011 | Reply

  3. Now that’s a Love Story!

    Comment by Karla | October 3, 2011 | Reply

  4. Wonderful post. My parents were married sixty-four years when my dad died this year. They adored each other. That was their best gift to their four kids – an everyday example of what it means to love someone.

    Comment by notquiteold | October 3, 2011 | Reply

  5. Beautiful post, and good to hear that Love can last much longer than they would have you believe.

    Comment by t | October 3, 2011 | Reply

  6. What a wonderful post! Congratulations to your parents. They must be proud of themselves to have worked hard on all the facets that make a marriage successful and happy and proud of you as their daughter. Biggest accomplishment as a parent is to raise your children to be capable and independent.

    Comment by louise | October 3, 2011 | Reply

  7. Love this and love you! I am as proud of you as I am of your parents!

    Comment by Margie | October 3, 2011 | Reply

  8. Nothing wrong with a good old fashioned mid western up-bringing. They layed the foundation and you did the rest. COngradualtions to your parents and also to you and your siblings for listening and taking in the lesson…eventually…. It takes longer with some than with others.

    Comment by Tim | October 3, 2011 | Reply

  9. I’ve been married for 31 years, and to think I’m not even 1/2 way to 70 years is a mighty scary thought, indeed. I’m sure you were challenging in your own right, but I’ll bet half the reason was because they were TIRED by the time you became a teenager. Just sayin’ . . . :o)

    Comment by Jewel | October 3, 2011 | Reply

  10. I was raised in the midwest (Iowa) as well…I can totally relate to your upbringing. Sadly, I lost my parents when they were in their late 60s…miss them every day. Your post was wonderful. Thanks for a smile and a little tear as well.

    Comment by Paula McClure | October 3, 2011 | Reply

  11. I live with my Mother and every night I make sure I tell her I love her and kiss her goodnight. You never know when they may leave you. Mine is only 72 and I hope sincerely she makes it to 90. You are very lucky Jane. Very very lucky.

    Comment by Francine | October 3, 2011 | Reply

  12. Bravo. You always put into words what so many of us feel!
    Thanks…and here’s to your parents!

    Comment by Francesca Amari, Cabaret singer | October 10, 2011 | Reply

  13. What a great tribute. I thought my parents were so uncaring for making me responsible for my own actions! What a blessing it was in the long run. Your dad in the picture is classic – like my goofy loving dad would have been He obviously (they) did a great job raising a strong gal who loves to laugh!

    Comment by Mary LaFrance | October 11, 2011 | Reply

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