Sixty Years Strong

I can’t believe they have been married for sixty years.  I can’t imagine doing ANYTHING consistently for sixty years, except maybe eating.

That’s 21,900 nights together!  10, 950 Jeopardy shows they’ve watched through the years.

I wonder what makes them still like each other.  I asked my mom, what is the secret sauce?  She told me that she wants my dad to be as happy and full as he possibly can be, and he wants the same for her.  Maybe a lesson on selflessness, putting others’ needs before your own.

My dad’s advice?  Never go to bed angry.  I don’t think that’s a problem for them because they hardly ever argue.  Oh, they have differing opinions about things.  My dad makes a mess in the kitchen and cleans it all up when he’s done.  If my mom uses a spoon, she washes it before another utensil comes out of the drawer.  There is no mess in the kitchen – ever.  They had to replace their counter tops because she wiped the marble off.

I think, after sixty years, they’ve just come to accept each other’s flaws.  I probably have more than dad – that may not be so easy for my wife.

All of us likely develop our first impressions on what a marriage should be based on what we see at home.  What I saw as a kid was parents who showed affection for each other – yes, it was gross, but they kissed and hugged and flirted on a regular basis my whole life.  They worked as a team – cooking together, cleaning up together, teaching Sunday School together, hosting parties.  Mom and Dad LOVE to host a party!

They still scheme over what they get each other for Christmas, always trying to surprise the other with some little something special.

They laugh and laugh about the simplest things, like calling out my name as loudly as possible in the middle of K-Mart when I was a very embarrassable teenage boy.  They thought that was hilarious.  It actually wasn’t.

They studied the bible together, teaching Sunday School class at our church.  They read devotional books and prayed with us.  They showed me that a strong marriage is rooted in faith.

They have known each other since before high school.  In fact, my grandparents always told me they were in the same baby room at First Baptist Church in Florence, SC.  They were friends in high school, but never dated.  And then one Christmas, must have been about 1958, when dad was home from college, he randomly called mom to go out to catch up.  The rest is history.

I love their story.  I love them.  I am so thankful they are my parents and am so thankful that they showed me what a really, really good relationship looks like.

The Joy in Old

When I was a teenager, my dad definitely did things that did not seem very cool to me.  It’s interesting that the black socks he wore with his tennis shoes and shorts were humiliating at the time.  Today, add a Nike Swoosh on the side, and what embarrassed me at 16, is exactly what a studly 16-year-old of today has on.

And what’s up with the handkerchief?  You keep it in your back pocket, blow an inordinate amount of snot into it and then, and then, you stick it BACK INTO YOUR POCKET!  YUCK!

Mmm.  Going to a bathroom to find a tissue is a lot of work.  I think I’ll just grab a small towel and put it in my pocket and fill it full of boogers to my heart’s content.  What a great time saver! 

Who does that (besides my dad)?

I’m not sure at what age he simply didn’t care anymore.  At some point, comfort became more important than style.  The black tennis shoes he wears today for almost any occasion is proof of that.  So help me, I will limp with excruciating pain before I wear a support shoe in public.

But at 77, he just doesn’t give a crap.  He ain’t working to impress anyone.

As I headed out to the beach for my daily jog this morning, I grabbed a set of headphones to plug into my iPhone.  I’ve tried EVERYTHING to keep these doohickies in my ears while moving.  I’ve clipped them to my shirt sleeve, run the cord down to my waist, shoved the ear bud into my cerebrum.  And yet, before Beyonce can belt out the first chorus, either left or right ear has shed the device, and I’m more focused on auditory function than physical fitness.

So today, as I pulled up my black socks and laced up my New Balance, I glanced at the counter and ta-da… I found the answer:  Duct tape!

I snagged a couple of small pieces and had Stephanie help me secure.

duct tape

The result?

Doobie Brothers?  No problem.

Earth Wind and Fire?  All good.

Aerosmith?  Golden.

Were my kids embarrassed?  I’d say so.

Did I care?  Not the least.

And not only did the tape hold the headphones into place, when I ripped it off, it was like a good waxing of the hairs growing all over my 50-year-old ears.  Two for the price of one!

There is some joy in growing old.

Another Year, Another Wrinkle

I’ve got a birthday this week.  I turn 47.  And yet I don’t feel a day over 46.

Do you ever look at yourself in the mirror and wonder what in the hell happened?

Since when did my hair turn white?  Not only on my sideburns and around my temples, but the stuff is taking over my chest.  Out with the brown, in with the gray!

It’s like old man kudzu.  And I’m not excited about where it might appear next.

The older I get, the more grooming I do.  As if showering and shaving isn’t enough every day, I now have to hunt for rogue hair all about my being.

Oh there’s a thatch growing out of my nostril.  A pompom of fuzz protruding from my ear canal.  And the one, only one, standing fully erect right on the top of my left shoulder-blade.

My eyebrows remind me of the fringe on my grandma’s handmade afghans.  I could serve spinach dip out of the crevices in my forehead.  Not only do I need glasses to read the menu at a restaurant, I also can’t see my food without them.  Imagine my surprise when the blurry “carrots” I bit into turned out to be rutabaga.  YUCK.

My grandfather, Woodrow, had a forehead the size of Montana.  And as Spurgeon, the other, added years to his life, his ears expanded like a Magic Towel wash cloth.  What a future.

I pee all the time, and there’s a 3″ x 3″ patch of skin on my back that’s as dry as a bone.  “Oooooo Dad!  What is that?  Scabies?”

“No!  It’s not scabies!!  It’s dry skin – it’s called eczema.”

“You need to get that checked out.  It’s gross.”

My girls are outstanding at pointing out all my flaws.

“You’re belly is jiggly!”  “You have warts on your feet.”  “I didn’t know you could get pimples at such an old age.”

I’m thankful I had the opportunity to develop a strong self-esteem before I had girls nearing the teenage years.

They haven’t discovered the vein that’s popping out around my right ankle although they relish the opportunity to discuss the volume of lint that collects in my bellybutton.  “Pull it out dad, I need a new scarf for winter.”

Where does that stuff come from and why is it in my navel?  I feel like a dryer.

I’m like an old house that needs major repairs.  I’m just not sure I could recoup the investment.

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