Voices Carry

I have never heard my father, not even once, raise his voice to, or speak in a mean manner to, my mother.  He has with an exasperated tone and something akin to a sigh said, “Dear…” If he has ever yelled at her or said an unkind thing to her it was never ever in my presence or within the walls of a space I lived and frankly, I do not think, even all these years I have been out on my own, that it has ever happened.  I moved out of my parents house when I was 17 years old into a life that was unkind and filled with yelling and mean manners.  Many nights when I either cried myself to sleep or stayed awake all night long so as not to be caught off guard by a hand or a knife, I would wonder how I could have ever ended up where I was, with parents like I had…

Today is my parents anniversary.  My parents have been dearly and deeply in love for 48 years…and 8 weeks I suppose, since they were friends for years but only “dated” for eight weeks before their wedding.  I have wished, for all of my life, since puberty I would imagine, to be loved like my father loves my mother.  To have a man care for me and everything about me, my person, me, my financial stability, me, my feelings and beliefs, me, my place on this earth by his side…It’s always perplexed me, being the daughter of such a great romance, why I did not find that kind of love and that kind of man to make a life with…a man who took pride in his relationship with me, the home he built for us, the children we made together, the work he did to provide us with such a wonderful life…my parents love gifted me with the guide-book and owner’s manual, but I failed to follow the maps or read the instructions…

Years ago a customer of my Dad’s started dating only a month or so after the loss of his wife.  My Dad looked at me one day and said, “I can’t believe it.  If I lost your mother my very soul would hurt” and I knew he meant it.  My mother has on occasion said, “I don’t know what I would do without your father” and I know she means it.  I don’t know what I will do without either of them, and can’t really think about it…their love for each other is a constant in my life, when all of my failings & screw ups & bad choices & terrible decisions lead me to a state of boo-hoo-hoo-ing, their unconditional love for me and their deep love for each other gives me strength, makes me feel like I will be able to fix things, anything…

My mother did not have dreams for a fabulous occupation or great wealth, she dreamed of having a loving husband and children and a family…my Dad never really talked about his “dreams” only that he wanted to be a carpenter and one semester at Villanova confirmed it for him, they lived on a small barrier island at a time when people knew each other up and down all 18 miles of it, at a time when options for men and women were few as far as a “career,” at a time when it was “normal” to get married and start a family at 23 & 26, so that is what they did.  They borrowed money from my Dad’s boss to put a down-payment on a house off the island and they started their “grown up” life.  If when I was little they had hard times, I didn’t know about it, and if when I was a teenager they had hard times, they did not let it be known…perhaps they did not always love each other, perhaps they did say mean things to each other behind closed doors, but their voices did not carry.

I have spent my entire adult life knowing deep down what kind of love I deserve yet being unable to attain that level of security and certainty…they showed me what I should want in a relationship, and yet for some reason I kept making choices that seemed to indicate it’s not what I wanted.  I had their guidance but made decisions, over and over, that seemed to say I paid no attention to the example they set.  They provided me with a guide to life, a guide to love, a “This is How You Do It” that I foolishly perpetually failed to follow, and so, now near middle age myself, I still flounder around in dark rooms looking for the light switch, had I paid more attention to how my parents made their life work, the light bulb would have always been right above my head…

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