Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Forty-Nine Years of Faith

By Amy MacKinnon

Tomorrow is my parents 49th wedding anniversary.

Their cake is in my oven. A mylar balloon, Happy Anniversary scrolled across its breadth, bobs in the foyer. A bundle of homemade cards from their grandchildren -- decorated with boats and flowers, rainbows even -- are pasted together to help my parents celebrate their day.

I'll go early to comb her hair and wash her face. If she can muster a little strength to her mouth, I'll brush on lipstick. Tango in Pink.

The rest of my family will gather at 11 sharp to sing to my parents. Mornings are best. We'll smile, try at least, as my father reads aloud the cards to my mother. Later, I'll make a collage of them for her room, something bright and cheerful. I'll cut the cake she can't eat, and if it's a good day, feed her sherbet. Orange is her favorite.

I can't forget to bring her wedding band. It slipped off two weeks ago and will never fit again. But she can wear it tomorrow. At least for a little while.

Years ago, one of my brothers, still just a boy, bought my parents an anniversary gift. It was a set of coffee mugs emblazoned with World's Greatest Lover across the tops and beneath that, cartoons of a voluptuous woman and a strapping man. I thought they looked exactly like my parents, and said so. My brother beamed while my mother and father blushed. Even so they used those mugs every morning, the images of that couple fading little by little, year by year until they were unrecognizable. I remember them well.

Tomorrow, like today and yesterday and the day before that, my father will sit with my mother and hold her hand. He'll give her sips of ginger ale and do his best to understand what she says, though no one really can, but he believes he knows. Maybe he does. The hospice nurse will check her vitals and check on him. He likes that. So do I.

He'll stroke her hair as he reminds her of that frigid New Years Eve long ago when they believed their youth and love and faith could conquer all of life's obstacles. They were mostly right.

Watching them, I'll try not to be bitter toward a disease that's robbed my mother of her vigor, of her memories of her grandchildren and children, of the life she built with the man she pledged herself to nearly fifty years ago. I'll try not to rail against any kind of God who created such a thing.

Instead, I'll place my faith in love. The kind that remains in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. Until death do us part. For now, it's the best I can do.


Anonymous said...

Wow, Amy. That was beautiful. Blessings to you and your family this New Year.

Randy Susan Meyers said...

What a lovely blog. Seems you were truly blessed with your parents. Happy New Year, Amy.

Trish Ryan said...

Amazing. I love the image of your parents drinking out of those mugs! My parents celebrated 42 years earlier this week. Thanks for reminding me that who they were in the earlier stages--when life was more about being the World's Greatest Lovers and less about oxygen tanks and medication--is still in there, still part of this marriage.

So glad you decided to blog :)

Summer at Tiffany said...
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JENNIFER said...

Dear Amy,

This is a beautiful piece that I would not be surprised to be re-reading soon in the Modern Love column.

Thank you for writing it, and congratulations on your new blog.


Amy MacKinnon said...

Thank you, Erika. Blessing to you as well. BTW, your blog is gorgeous.

Oh, Randy, I so appreciate it. I expect yours really will be a wonderful New Year.

Trish,I couldn't believe those mugs brought back so much to me. Glad they helped remind you too, though I'm sorry you need reminding.

Jen, that means a lot. Thank you.

KELLY said...

That is really beautiful! Today is my anniversary also of 6 wonderful years of marriage. I also love your prediction of 2010! Happy new Year and can't wait to read the book!

Pegge said...

Now you've brought tears to me. Blessings to you--in this experience of poignant, real living. Thank you for sharing your presence.
I look forward to your new blog!

Amy MacKinnon said...

Thank you, Kelly, and happy anniversary!

Pegge,thank you for your blessings. It means so much.

Kathleen said...

Amy --
This is so beautiful. My mom passed away yesterday. Like your mom, she suffered from dementia. I'm so glad I saw this. Thank you.