50 years ago today, on 1st April 1972, my parents were married. I have heard that it was a great day, full of laughter and dancing. There were a few jokes on the day. My Uncle David pretended that he dropped the cake, because it was April Fools day. The wedding meal was steak pie and a room full of friends and family were fed for the bargain price of £1 a head. Wow.
I would have loved to have been there. It looks like a great party. But marriage is so much more than a wedding day. I have been thinking about all the lessons my parents have taught my brothers and I as we have watched them grow over the years together. They were never ‘pushy’ in a conventional way. We were raised to be fiercely independent and to find our own path. We were always told we would be loved no matter what we did in life. But they did push the stuff that matters. They have worked so hard to live their life by the values of love, faith, joy, compassion, patience and peace. I am aware that many relationships stop growing. I am also aware that there are unhealthy relationships that have reached this epic milestone. Whilst there is no such thing as a perfect relationship, I think my parents are still together and strong because of the values below. They have worked hard to live their life by these values and are still best of friends.
An open house.
Our family home, number 242, was known for it’s hospitality. My parents were constantly hosting, loving and welcoming people with open arms. They would pour out everything they had. It was far from a ‘show home’ but it was bursting to the brim with love. I am so thankful for this. Whilst I won’t always remember all the things in that home, I will never forget how it made me feel. They taught me the value of giving and loving.
I remember being on holiday with my parents in Madrid in 2019. As I was drifting off to sleep, I heard them in their room praying together. They were praying for our family and friends, as they always do morning and night. It got me thinking about my childhood and all the times they would pray together. They would sit in bed with their tea and toast and have this precious time. I always loved to hear them praying. It gave me comfort, I loved the fact they they shared this habit. I also loved how thankful they were each and every single day for the small things. Their faith has been their anchor through the highs, the lows and everything in between. They taught me about the power of faith and also gratitude.
My Mum always reminded me to sort things out quickly, rather than letting bad feelings fester and build. I was taught about the power of saying sorry and the power of forgiveness. The energy in a home is important. There simply isn’t time for resentment and negativity, there is too much fun to be had. They taught me the value of peace.
My parents still dance together. They dance through the good times, they dance through illness, they dance through sadness. They have never stopped dancing. I still remember my Dad throwing me about the house as a toddler, dancing like mad with me to This Ole House by good old Shakin’ Stevens – utter joy! My Dad hasn’t been very well this year but last night when I dropped in to see them, they were dancing. My parents taught me about the power of music and how it can brighten our day, move us and inspire us.
My parents have their differences. My Dad in many ways is a free spirit who loves to be spontaneous, he is passionate, intense, funny and a brilliant listener. He is gentle unless pushed to his limits. My Mum is loyal, wise, loving and smart. She loves her routines and likes to take her time. She likes the simple things in life and is a home bird. They have had to learn to compromise. Their friendship and love for each other has allowed them to do this. I am aware that this is not always possible.
It is easy to proclaim ‘in sickness and in health’ to a room full of people, but keeping those vows requires true strength. It’s a sacrifice and not always an easy one. I had some truly beautiful messages after I shared the powerful, uncut blog, in sickness and in mental health.
One of them sticks with me:
I’m a great believer in silver linings and the inseparable bond and true love we have for each other may not have happened if it hadn’t been for her illness. It’s been another difficult spell again, but the message I would give anyone is that it always gets better and that it can actually increase your love for each other and deepen the bond and closeness you have through shared experience. I truly love my wife more than ever and it’s essential to separate the person from the illness. There is always light at the end of the tunnel.
I do agree that the lows can bring us closer and shine an ever brighter light on the highs.
50 years is an incredible amount of time to be in such a close relationship with someone. I am aware that not all relationships can last. I am very aware that nobody is guaranteed that amount of time on earth. Which is why we need to remember to really live it whilst we are here. We need to cling onto our values like our life depends on it. We need to turn the music on each and every day. We need to love with an open heart, as often as we can. I am so thankful to my parents for not only teaching me about love, but showing me it through their actions.
My parents are very humble people and like many of us, struggle to accept compliments and gushy words. To say I am proud of them is an understatement. Here’s to you Mum and Dad, Violet and Arthur. You are a wonderful team and my absolute heroes. Happy Golden Wedding Anniversary. Let’s raise a glass to you.