“That’s where I first saw your dad.” says my mom. “I was looking out my dorm window and there he was!”
We were beside the old campus of Gordon College, now Wheelock College in the Fenway area of Boston. We had stopped the car on the street and my mom and I got out so we could take a picture of her by her old dormitory window.
I love hearing these stories, picturing my parents as the college students or young adults they once were. They lend another dimension to the parents I know, help me to realize that I know only certain parts of their lives. They are a reminder that before I came along, before my brothers entered the world, it was the two of them. The two of them with all the hopes, dreams, idealism, and faith that those ending college and embarking on a life together should have.
Yesterday my parents celebrated 63 years of marriage. Beyond the guilt I feel for forgetting their anniversary (fully blaming the fact that I didn’t grow up with Hallmark to remind me to buy cards, a lame excuse for sure) is the hope and gratitude I feel for who they are and how they have lived.
Three years ago – on their 60th anniversary my daughter Stefanie wrote a tribute to them. I went back and read it this morning and want to share it here. They are the words of a granddaughter growing up in a different era than her grandparents, an era where marriage seems more like a commodity than a commitment. Her thankfulness to her heritage shines through and echoes my thoughts.
“Sometimes, when conversing among friends or strangers, I get deep enough into the conversation where not just my immediate families history pours out, but the history of my parents’ parents pours out. I remark on the fact that two separate people, from two different families, joined together in marriage and by this, you changed generations and generations of individuals.
When you listened to God’s calling on your life, you changed all of us, even the little ones that can’t even speak yet. When you took that boat to Pakistan, you set a fire in the souls of all your children, making them passionate about different cultures. You set a fire that dwells in me. The uniqueness of your story gives me great hope to know that two people, who listened to God’s call, affected their five kids, who, in turn, affected their kids (17 kids!) and now, some of us are affecting spouses and even grandkids!
You sparked inside all of us an appreciation for a good curry and a deep sense of belonging in airports. You may not see your commitment to Christ as such an inspiration, but your marriage truly is incredible and what you did, even through the difficult times, is a testimony to God’s amazing hand on each of our lives. You persisted and remained dedicated, allowing all of us to explore the possibilities on this earth, the possibilities of traveling and seeing different ways of life. Thank you for sparking an eternal flame in my heart, and the hearts of all my cousins. You changed generations of people.
Love you so very much and so glad to call you my very own. What a beautiful relationship you have and I hope one day I will celebrate my 60th with someone as amazing and funny as Grandpa!
Infinite love and Congrats!
Stefanie S. Gardner (#16)
Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad!