My parents 40th wedding anniversary was this past weekend and my brothers and I planned a little celebration for them. We’ve spent a good deal of time these last two weeks looking through family albums and scanning images for a photo display. As we flipped through the photos and talked about our parents, these crazy uncontrollable smiles swept over us. We laughed and cried a little and laughed some more as we planned and prepared for their party.
My parents were two incredibly adorable teenagers when they first met in high school. Their first date was a trip to the movies to see The Godfather and then for pizza at an Italian restaurant, Barnaby’s Pizza. Their second date was a hike in the woods at John Bryan State Park and that was when my dad knew he wanted to marry my mom. They dated for their senior year of high school and then at Christmas time after they graduated my dad proposed to my mom. The following year they married and then moved into their first apartment together shortly after.
The photos in my parents albums show a pretty awesome story of their life together. The early years were full of apartment & new home pictures, camping trips, vacations and holidays with their parents and pictures of their first puppy dog, Pharaoh. When my brothers and I started appearing in the albums things changed and the pictures started to focus on us instead of them. Much like other family photos, mom held the camera and dad held the kids. Our grandparents were a big part of the scene in those albums. I loved seeing all the pictures of my grandparents when they were younger! It made my heart so happy to see the photos of my parents with their parents holding us when we were babies. The pictures of my parents with their first born (my older brother) showed me how much they loved being new parents. They beamed with joy and happiness. Seeing them with me and my brothers when we were babies somehow makes me feel even more loved if that’s even possible.
There is no question in my mind that I had a great childhood but looking through all the family photos made me think that I didn’t fully grasp how lucky I was growing up. My parents brought my brothers and I up in home that was so full. “Full” is the only word I can think of to describe the life that they provided for us. They gave us every opportunity that they could possibly give to help us flourish and become independent, self-sufficient, and successful adults. They saved and sacrificed to send us to good schools, they took us on family vacations every year so that we could experience the world around us, they supported us in any and every sport we wanted to play, they took us camping and instilled the importance of the outdoors in our hearts, they participated in Boy Scouts & Girl Scouts with us as Scout Leaders, and the holidays were always an adventure in an overabundance of fun. They were there for us!
There are so many things in my life that I have to be thankful for that sometimes I wonder how I ended up so dang lucky. I could not ask for a better set of people to belong to. When I see photos of my parents when they were younger, I see myself. I see myself in my mom’s eyes and smile and I see myself in my dad’s wild hair. When I see the photos of both of my parents graduation from college, I see my own cap and gown and I’m grateful that they supported and pushed me to succeed. I see the photos of their wedding day and I think about the loving relationship and marriage that they have with each other and I’m thankful that they taught me that I deserve a relationship and marriage of the same caliber. I am a product of my parents and freakin’ proud of it.
Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad! To say “thank you for everything” would never truly scratch the surface of how eternally grateful I am to both of you and for what you have done to help me become the person I am today. I love you both more than I’ll ever be able to express.