HAPPY 50th ANNIVERSARY MOM AND DAD
Fifty years ago today, on August 29th 1958, a brilliant, charming young man from the Midwest and a staggeringly beautiful, effusive young woman from New England stood on the altar of a grand old white church in Farmington, Connecticut and vowed in front of their friends and family to love each other forever. The two friends and lovers, both former Yale students, dashed from the church after the service to an awaiting town car, ready to party it up at their reception, and then begin their life together. The remnants of Hurricane Cleo, which had churned up the Atlantic a week before, would bring stormy conditions to Farmington on this day – an ironic harbinger of the stormy yet fiercely strong lifelong bond that would start on that day, and last for nearly 50 years.
Those two people were my parents, John and Lynn Houk, and today would have been their 50th wedding anniversary. They both passed away in the winter of 2004; Dad died first, then Mom seemingly took his hand and went to the other side with him three weeks later. They call it “broken heart syndrome.” My folks had been married a little over 46 years when they left this world, and although times had turned hard, challenges were many, and patience and optimism were rare commodities, my parents loved each other every day of their life, every day since they were wed on that stormy August day in Connecticut. I can see why my mom’s heart broke when she lost her life’s partner.
I was their only child, and their presence is missed every day. But as I sit here on this monumental day… hoping so much that I could just call them and hear their voices as I wish them a happy 50th anniversary…I have to smile. I smile when I think of the many ways they loved each other over their lifetime together. I smile when I think that the best memories I have of them are mostly of two people who found that rarity in life: a soulmate, that person that is the total yin to their yang. I smile when I remember my parents would often be in such sync that the world would simply just go on around them as they floated in this Houk bubble. I smile thinking that even when they fell on hard times, and their world seemed to be unraveling, their devotion to each other was as strong as that storm that swooped in on their wedding in Farmington so many August days ago.
So on this day when I honor the memory of my parent’s amazing bond that’s 50 years old today, I give such thanks to them that I was able to be the child of two people who had such a deep love for each other, and who made our life as a family one full of love, care and devotion.
I had planned to spread their ashes over the moors of Nantucket on this historic day, to lay them to a final rest in one of their most cherished places. It’s not to be, at least not this year.
So instead, I’ll go home, look through the black and white photos of their wedding album…
…and smile. And I’ll no doubt get a nostalgic chuckle at the clipping of their wedding announcement in the local paper, with a memorable and fitting headline that used to prompt huge laughter from my folks every time it was revisited – “LYNN HOLLISTER WEDS OHIO MAN.”