My parents were married 45 years ago today, at St. Therese Catholic Church in Appleton, Wisconsin. It was cold as hell - I have been told that it was as cold that day as it was for the Ice Bowl. My dad was finishing his senior year at UW-Madison and would take his first job later that summer with CNA Insurance in Chicago. My mom was an executive secretary for Kimberly-Clark, the huge paper company based in nearby Neenah. I was born at the end of the year.
My parents had a tough marriage - I've chronicled in this space my mother's lifelong challenges with mental illness which were at the root of their problems. They had seven children together (one daughter died shortly after birth) and ultimately they ended up separating in 1977 and divorcing in 1980. My father died in 1990 following complications from heart surgery and my mother died in 2000, also following complications from a mastectomy.
My dad has has been gone for a long time now and my mom has, too. Life didn't turn out the way they would likely have chosen. But even though their marriage ended in divorce, it does not mean they failed. My siblings and I are all reasonably successful and those of us who are married (four of six) have fine marriages, indeed. My father did not live long enough to meet any of his six granchildren and my mother only lived long enough to meet three of the six, but my siblings and I have tried to make sure that they are a part of our children's lives. You can't sum up a marriage, or a life, in a blog post. But I am thankful for these two people, who loved each other enough to bring me into this world.