Today is the 75th anniversary of my parents’ marriage. They only got 51 of those years together.
They met as co-workers at the Tennessee Valley Authority, where he was a college graduate at his first real job; she was secretary to management. He was a happily displaced Michigander; she grew up in the shadow of the Appalachians, the trails of which became their courting grounds.
They fell in love on the brink of World War II, she refusing through their letters to each other while he was in officer training at New York University to tell him she loved him, even as he poured out his heart to her. He nearly gave up. She never told him why she wouldn’t say the words in the letters she saved for nearly eight decades. But she told me. “I needed to be sure. We had never even spent time alone together. The mail was not a good foundation for a relationship.”
She moved to Spokane, Washington to work a Civil Service job. She hated Spokane. He finished his meteorologist training and moved to an air base in Texas. Thinking he would remain there for the duration, he made a rare phone call to her.
“Do you wanna get married?” he said. “Yes,” she said.
Two weeks later they were joined for life at the biggest church in Dallas, the only venue he could book on short notice, with his friend and her sister the only attendees.
Six weeks after that he got his orders and spent the next three years in Europe.
When he returned, after a brief re-employment with TVA, they moved to Washington.
The rest, as they say, is history.
After 23 years apart following his death in 1995, I want to believe they are celebrating this anniversary together again.
Happy Day, Mommy and Daddy. I miss you.