|My mom and dad.|
Fifty years is a long time.
Half of a century.
And it is indeed something to celebrate. An accomplishment not often heard about in today's day and age. And though circumstance has dictated that we should be on two different coasts today, they are both very, very much on my mind and in my heart.
I've wracked my brains for some 'thing' to give them that would show them how much I love them. How much I appreciate them. How much they have meant to me. How proud I am of them and how they have shaped my life.
But how do you put a value on such feelings? How do you properly honour the people who gave you life and breath, put you on the right road and supported you even when it was they who needed support?
And so here I sit at my laptop. Wishing I could be somewhere else and yet trying to share with the world how I feel. How do you put the appreciation for fifty years together into words?
I can only try.
When I was about 4, while my dad was out at work, my mom taught me how to read. My dad encouraged it when he came home. I'm pretty sure they thought I was from another planet because my desire for books was insatiable. I ate books. And I could not WAIT to get to school. I don't think they realized it at the time, but those first picture books were the makings of a career. Of a passion. Of a love that would last a lifetime.
Around the same time, my dad taught me how to fish. And hunt. And work a garden. And I learned to appreciate growing things and the earth around us. My mom taught me to bake by baking. And how to sew by sewing. How the work doesn't go away on it's own. I learned to make hay when the sun shines and to appreciate the rain when it comes.
I learned how much hard work goes into feeding a family. How sometimes you can put hours and hours of work into a project and have it fail, but you can't stop trying.
My mom taught me to appreciate the quiet times. To be still. To look beyond the moment and to have faith. She taught me that sometimes I have to stick up for myself--but that doesn't mean I have to be mean or vicious. You can be strong without being hard. Strength comes in many forms.
My father, a true handyman, taught me that I can repair just about anything with the right tools.
Together they fostered my independence from day one. They didn't coddle me (although my older siblings would disagree), and they didn't spend every waking hour entertaining me. They had work to do, and they did it. I played by myself. I found things to do. I read. I went outside. I climbed trees and I made leaf sailboats. I played with toy cars in the dirt and I ate apples right off of the tree. In letting me explore, they encouraged my imagination. Sure, times were different then, but I think in doing so, the taught me one of the basic rules of parenting. Kids learn by doing. They need to explore their environments and make mistakes to grow. I made lots of mistakes. But I learned. Sometimes I made the same mistake over and over again. But sooner or later I did it right.
Lastly, having watched my parents from day one, they taught me that the best things in life are not free. Love comes with a price. Hard work, long hours, sacrifice, and heartache are the currency of love and marital success. Forgiveness sometimes comes at heavy cost. No marriage is perfect. Often we hurt those we love most, and we have to dig deep to ask forgiveness. And sometimes things are too broken to be fixed, but you can't know that unless you first try to put it back together.
No matter how happy it looks on the outside, there are always issues. But getting through those issues together, humbling yourself, recognizing your differences and accepting them, brings huge rewards. My parents have taught me that. They find happiness in each other's company. They understand they are two distinct individuals and they have spent fifty years discovering how two parts can become one whole.
I am so incredibly proud to call them my parents.
I am here today as a testament to their love and dedication to one another.
And so, Edna and David Corey, I thank you for all that you have done for me. And I wish you many, many more years of happiness together.