Thursday, February 23, 2012

First Kiss

I'm sure they did. As many years as I lived with them, I'm sure he said it. But as hard as I try, I cannot remember it.

It seems like after you are 40 and have a few years of relationships under your belt you begin to unravel some of the nuances of your parent's marriage that were lived out before your eyes but uninterpretable for lack of experience.

I realized long ago that my parents were a lot like what I remember my Dad's parents were like. I lived with them for a couple months at a time as a child and visited often. G'an would order Gan'pa around, bitch about everything he did and call him out when he embellished a story. Gan'pa would sing song, "Oh, Minnie..." and just go on doing what he was doing or would just finish his story, while Ga'n rolled her eyes or footnoted his story with "facts" as he told it. I figured out years ago that my Dad married his Mother. I didn't know my Popo (Chinese grandmother) and Grandaddy well, but I knew my Popo well enough to know what it would take to live with her and I imagine my Mom married her Dad in some ways too.

I look back now on some mysterious incidents and realize my parents had their marital crises. My Mom recently told me there were a few times she had her bags packed but unpacked them before Dad got home from work. Dad isn't quite as open, but I imagine he thought of driving to work and just keep going through the light and on to where ever the road ended. But then what married man hasn't sooner or later? But they've been married 60 years now.

Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer a couple months ago at age 84. I suspected at her age she would just say, "That is that" and let nature take its course. She opted for a radical mastectomy and a year of chemo. I think I know why.

As my parents have aged my Mom has said "I hope your Father dies before I do because he won't know what to do if I go first... If I die first you HAVE to be sure he gets into assisted living." She is right. My Dad knows she is right too, though when she says that he'll say in the same sing song Gan'pa used to, "Oh, Momma..."

Mom had her surgery last week. When they wheeled her from recovery to her room, Dad tailgated the gurney all the way to the door. When the nurse told us we had to leave the room while they moved her into her bed, Dad stood a foot from the door pacing in a small square dance waiting for it to open. He was the first in when they opened it. He hovered over her bed and even though she was still groggy he asked, "do you want anything... can I get you some water... do you want me to order some dinner... how do you feel... "

We stayed for a while until he was sure she was comfortable and the nurses were going to be attentive enough.

I'm sure they must have done it sometime, he must have said it before, but for the life of me I can't remember it.

As we said goodbye for the night, my Dad leaned over the rail of the hospital bed and kissed my Mom. "I love you," he said as he stroked her head. She smiled. "Go home, JG, I'll be fine."

A day later my Mom had to be able to walk around the nurse's station in order to be released.

My Dad walked beside her, at a certain distance but close enough to catch her should she stumble or fall.

Side by side they shuffled down the corridor, he with 3 heart surgeries, she mutilated by cancer, each knowing what they are walking inexorably toward, but walking toward that place together. It was a closeness and distance that had been hammered out over 60 years.

I know that was not their first kiss, nor their first walk together.

I suspect, in the mystery of human love, they may have been the most true, the most real.


Matushka Anna said...

This was beautiful. I'm tears.

FrStephenLourie said...

Very beautiful and becoming increasingly rare.

Unknown said...

A world full of a fake Hollywood kisses never more profoundly put into relief than by a real one.


LV said...

Thank you so much. Prayers for them both.

Sean+ said...

Thank you.

Audora said...

What a lovely tribute. Thank you for sharing this look at True Love.

hsteven said...

I was able to feel the warmth of your words. What a blessing and legacy for their son...Hopefully, you will be so blessed in another 20+ years!

ofgrace said...

Thanks, Steve. Now I have lump in my throat!

"G'an would order Gan'pa around, bitch about everything he did and call him out when he embellished a story. Gan'pa would sing song, "Oh, Minnie..." and just go on doing what he was doing or would just finish his story, while Ga'n rolled her eyes or footnoted his story with "facts" as he told it."

This pretty well describes the dynamic between my 80-something parents and in-laws! We are blessed to still have them around.

Mimi said...

Thank you, and prayers to your mom.

Melanie said...

This post should come with a Kleenex warning! So beautiful and true, thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

That was really very touching. I will keep them both in my prayers. Thank you for sharing your stories with us.

-- Long time lurker, soon to be Orthodox

Dave Brown said...

What a beautiful tribute! My parents celebrated their 67th anniversary last October but we lost Dad in December and theirs was a similar relationship. Mom is having such a hard time without Dad, as all of us are. Treasure every moment you have with your parents!

Ochlophobist said...

Beautiful. Thank you.

Rutherford's Musings said...

THIS is why we fight for the sanctity of marriage. THIS is why we fight to keep the family unit strong.

Grace said...

As usual, this is incredible. Now I feel like I know your folks better than I do my own.

I found out two years ago from mom that my dad once had the "I can't do this" talk with her when we were kids. It came as a complete shock to me; since my dad's not around, I'll never know what made him change his mind.

And I know how dangerously close I was a couple times to planning my "escape." I wonder if this is a lot more common than we know.

Kassianni said...

wow. no words. thank you.