57 Years of Greeting Cards
A few years ago, my siblings and I (and our spouses), had the difficult task of cleaning out the house that my parents had lived in for over fifty years. It was also the house that we siblings grew up in. There were several reasons why this task was difficult.
Difficult Reason #1: Our father had recently passed away, and very soon after that, we had to move my mother to a memory care facility, as she was diagnosed with late stage Dementia.
Difficult Reason #2: My parents were children of the great depression, and like many of their generation, they saved just about everything.
Difficult Reason #3: Because of Difficult Reason #2, there were lots of our childhood possessions and memories still living there.
The photograph I included with this post is an example of Difficult Reason #2. My parents kept all of the greeting cards they gave to each other. Rather than give you a span of time in years, I’ll give you the span of time based on the cost of greeting cards. 10 Cents to $5.99.
A few other observations:
I counted 217 greeting cards (not counting additional cards glued in scrapbooks)
Most of the cards were given on Valentine’s Day, Birthdays, and Anniversaries. Some were given without any ties to a holiday. I would files these under, “Given just because.”
There was thought put into the selection of these cards. Neither of my parents just walked into a card store, closed their eyes, and just randomly grabbed one.
My father loved the sea, lighthouses, and sailboats. Many of the cards my mother gave him had at least one of those on the cover. In some cases, she managed to find cards with all three.
My mother loved flowers and gardening. So my father made sure he selected cards with that theme.
There were a mix of serious cards and humorous cards. There were also PG-rated cards with sentiments such as:
“It’s Halloween so should I put on my spooky costume and scare you? Or take it off and thrill you.”
“I get my “Wheaties” at the super market…but I get my “Kix” from you!”
In some cards, they would just sign with, “I Love You,” and then their name. Other cards, they added more.
“One Look at you and I knew…and I’ve never forgotten! It’s when we’re apart like this that the memories of you and the things we’ve done become so precious. No, I’ve never forgotten because you’re continually on my mind and I love you now more than ever.”
“Were there nothing else but our love for each other, I would still have all I need.”
When I first discovered this treasure trove of cards, I knew that at some time down the road, I’d write about it. Over the past few years, I’ve looked at this stack of cards many times. And each time the stack of cards asked me the same question. Are you ready? I’d give them some lame excuse like I was too busy. But I wasn’t fooling them or myself. We both knew the real reason. I wasn’t emotionally prepared to write about it. Even as I write this now, I’ve had to reach for several tissues.
As in life, there is no magic formula for a successful marriage. So much of whom we are as individuals and couples have been significantly influenced by what was modeled in front of us growing up. I’ve always known that my parents loved each other. They demonstrated it to each other every day, in many ways. At the time my father died, my parents had been married for 57 years. As I spent time looking through stacks of greeting cards, as well as thousands of my parent’s photographs and slides, there is one extraordinary aspect of their marriage that spanned their entire 10 Cent to $5.99 marriage. Companionship. They valued their time together. Whether they were camping, fishing, running errands, attending church, watching television, or just sitting somewhere holding hands. It’s not that they were inseparable. They each had their own interests and hobbies. But they both loved being in the company of the other.
Last month Lady Debby and I celebrated our 37-year anniversary. Some of you reading this have probably not even celebrated your 37th birthday. Years seem to pass by as quickly as eye blinks. I’m not a big fan of growing old. But since no one has invented either the ability to suspend aging, or the capability to make time stand still, I will have to settle for the next best thing. Continuing to grow old in the company of Lady Debby. And I am way okay with that.