I was home from Idaho for about three days before I noticed the eggs in the flower pot… they’re still there… I think they look kinda nice. I have found myself being a little oblivious from time to time and not being overly concerned about why I’m not paying attention to certain things or putting undue weight on them. I’m assuming all that stuff will still be there when I’m ready to pay attention to it. It’s actually been quite the educating, busy, somewhat hectic, somewhat nerve wracking, positive, and empowering couple of weeks. As it pertains to this thing… Thirty Days of Mo(u)rning… there’s a plethora of reasons I’m fiddling around with this site and I’ve realized one of them is that just by having it provides me with questions on how I want to live my life as I go through this experience. I’ve recently been reminded that it also gives me strength as vulnerability is scotch taped to the posts I publish.
I went home for a couple of days to be there with my family as my parents celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary… and learned that “warming up” is probably a good thing before you start doing hand stands and cart wheels with your niece on padded astro turf at some new shopping/eating/huge movie theater type place… at the age of 42. It was nice to see my family again so shortly after our last visit. We’ve been together more in the last year than in the last 5 or so… which has been nice, even if the circumstances have leaned more towards the heavy real life hard shit than the celebratory, but I’ll take what I can get. We haven’t spoken much since I’ve gotten home, a couple of times, but not nearly as much as I would like to. Of course, I believe most people are in that boat.
It was one of those smooth travel experiences… no running full speed to any gates, no turbulence, no absurd delays because a pilot called out sick or anything. In Dallas, I even got to enjoy some breaded and fried rubber that came very close to tasting like chicken. Luckily, they gave me a salt lick biscuit and some coleslaw milk in a convenient lidded Styrofoam cup to wash it down! On the way to Phoenix I sat next to a kid from Canada who flew out of Boston because it was cheaper than flying international… from Canada. He and his buddy were gonna drive from Phoenix to California and up the coast for one last holiday before starting school back up… I was jealous… and I can’t believe I called it “holiday” and not “vacation” or “road trip”. We only chatted for a bit, he needed to get some sleep before the drive through the desert to Cali… and I needed to write a toast for my P’s at their Anniversary Party!… which was happening in 4 hours! Now, it’s not because I’m a procrastinator that I was trying to find the right words to honor two people who have shared half a century of life together, as husband and wife, on a plane wedged between a polite, slightly disheveled Canadian kid and a quiet lady in her 70’s(?) who had an iron grip on her worn, just heavier than cloth, purse for five and a half hours… who didn’t speak a lick of English. She was awesome. I got to show her how to buckle the seat belt… I think she was thankful.
I was writing it on the plane because that was the first chance I had to sit and put thought into it. My sister had asked me if I would be willing to do it only 2ish days before! I was honored… I was also delirious on an hour and twenty minutes of sleep as I wrote it. It was a great experience putting thought into what it was that I wanted to say to two people who have been with each other longer than I have been alive… what it was that I wanted to say to my parents? As the same for these blogs, it was nice to sit and focus on what I wanted to share and why. I have found that writing allows me to take all those things swirling around in the noggin and kinda line them up in a row. Everything is still there… I just plug away at one thought at a time… while all the others are smashing up against that one thought up front like a pack of crazed shoppers waiting for the doors to open at Walmart… two hours after eating Thanksgiving Dinner.
As a widower, it was hard to think about a life shared by two people who somehow found each other at a school dance as teenagers and then shared fifty years of life together. Those are the types of stories that I generally haven’t been paying attention to. As a son… I am thankful I was given the opportunity to stand in front of my family and some old friends to share my appreciation and love for my mom and dad as we all celebrated them being Husband & Wife.
This is what I wrote for them. (Yes, I asked them if I could throw this on here… for a couple of reasons. First, this is their’s… I wrote it for them. Second, just because I’m sharing what I am going through in a public format it doesn’t mean that they want their life shared. It’s a love and respect thing… because I love and respect them)
Two days ago, Dina sent a text asking if I would be willing to give the toast at our parents 50th Anniversary celebration. Now, she didn’t give a reason why they thought it was I who should give the toast, I’m the one who moved twenty-three hundred miles away and I’m kind of out of the loop on the day to day life of our family, but I accepted it anyways and got a little excited about being able to share my thoughts on what marriage means to me, what type of impact my parent’s marriage has had on my life, and how their relationship has taught me to what depths the bond of marriage goes. At first, I thought it was a bit strange that the guy who just lost his wife is giving a toast celebrating the longevity of commitment between two people, but then I realized it’s not really the length of the marriage that is the important part, but the content. It’s what we fill the years with… the good, the bad, the challenging, the exciting, the frustrating, and fun.
50 years together… however you wish to cut it… is filled with all sorts of things. I’m not one of those people who likes to sugar coat life, which might not make me the best person to give speeches and toasts for celebrations, but this is about the bond between a husband and wife that have made it through 5 decades of life together. They have not only built their lives together, but have created, nurtured, loved, and supported children…. something that should also be acknowledged because committing to live life with one person can be quite the challenge… add in dirty, snotty, bratty children and I’m sure it can be ruthless at times. Not ever having children of my own, I’m only speaking to what I have seen as friends try to corral their “littles” into SUV’s, deal with their children being sick, or ornery, or going off to school, or first loves… and first heartaches. You know, a mother puts a band aid on her child’s scraped knee, cheers for them at gymnastic meets or ballet recitals (less “cheering” at a ballet recital), drives them to swim lessons, and sends them cards in the mail telling them she loves them as they go through rough times when they are older and out of the house. A father teaches you how to throw a baseball, ride a bike without training wheels, what work ethic is, and how to maneuver the transition of being a boy to becoming a man. That’s what mom’s and dad’s do… they raise their children. A husband and wife, who stick with each other through thick and thin, through the good times and the challenging times, through disagreements, through experiences that spouses just shouldn’t have to go through in a perfect world… that creates a family. Of course, come to think of it, mom and dad got lucky… they had perfect children that were always well behaved and as we grew up… we made all the right choices!
I’ve realized I’ve been speaking a lot to the point of the challenges of marriage. I’ll get to some of the good stuff in a minute, but those aren’t the things that I find as impressive when we speak about mom and dad… or anyone… sharing a life together for fifty years. Marriage would be a cake walk if all we ever did was have wonderful meals filled with wonderful food, amazing conversations, and boisterous laughter… or sit on the beach every weekend… or bounce from one vacation spot to another, but that’s not life… at least not our life. Life is hard and takes work. It takes work to see the other person’s side of the story. It’s hard to fundamentally disagree with the person you love about this or that, but sometimes we do. It’s not an easy thing to go to bed at night and lay next to someone you are angry with or disappointed in. It’s hard to do things that you don’t want to do, but they are done because it’s not about YOU… it’s about US. And sometimes it’s hard to forgive… but we do… because sometimes the love, the bond, the life we share has a power over us that we are unable to put into words or quantify by any measurable means. Love… it’s the most powerful thing in our world that no one can really define except for the people involved in it.
Mom and Dad… Donald Martin Lidstrom and Denise Ann Lyeburger got hitched. Dina posted a picture of you guys… I think from your wedding… and it was awesome! I’ve been given quite the education on time as of recently and as I prepared to travel to Boise to celebrate and recognize the 50 years you guys have been together it caught me off guard to see a pic of two hip youngsters that would one day be Mom and Dad…. You guys had style! Fifty years… that’s a long time filled with a lot of experiences. From my vantage point… the forty-two years I have been a part of your life have been filled with the type of love that you hope for from a parent. But again, this isn’t about me… or Dina… or anyone else. This is about the 50 years of life you two have committed to each other, through thick and thin, through the hard times… the good times… and all that jive. I know there have been difficult times, but the good memories, the good times, the sense of family that you two have provided the Lidstroms overshadows all the other bullshit that sometimes comes with life. You have definitely tested all sorts of waters within this marriage… but you are here today… together… as husband and wife. So, here is my toast:
To my Mother and Father on Fifty Years of Marriage
Love as though you were still a Lyeburger and a Lidstrom
Fifty years adds a richness and a grown-up view of a life started by two young people who’s love for each other was the center of the universe… remember that young love.
Fifty years are filled with life… the good, the bad, and the ugly. All of which is needed… and sometimes you just need to watch a spaghetti western.
Fifty years is filled with hopes and dreams, success and failure, ups and downs… for fifty years you dealt with the ebb and flow of life together… because that’s what we do when we love someone and commit ourselves to the person that completes us.
After fifty years of marriage… talk about fifty years of marriage and what it means for you.
This is just one day at the end of the 18,250 other ones… and there are more to come!
Congratualtions, Good Job, Thank-You, and we all love you… I love you both so deeply I wish it could all be conveyed in this little toast… but you get the gist.
I love you… Let’s Party!
- You can survive pretty well on take-out Chinese food, pizza, and grilled steaks.
- The house is still clean and laundry is usually done… folded is another story. It usually hangs out in the dryer or laundry basket for a few days so that the wrinkles will show up better.
- I’ve kinda been keeping to myself… for no particular reason. Sitting on the front porch, having a few fires, hanging with Lil’ Bitch, Chicken, Chicken, and Chicken. Thinking about my life, what I want to do with it, and how/where am I gonna do it.
- Music and noise from the guitar fill the air quite a bit.
- I’ve gotten past some points in my timeline that feels good to get past.
- Still on top of all the normal bills and regular life shit… hospital bills are in collection… but I’m not worried about that. Sometimes you have to prioritize.
- I haven’t watched a movie in I don’t know how long.
- There hasn’t been much crying… I think my brain and eyeballs are taking a break.
- I feel good… decent. Still just rolling with life… wishing I was on a boat with Maria and Nina in Miami. (Well, maybe not Miami… but somewhere on a boat… where I can see land. Kateri would want a pony on that boat because of Lyle Lovett… so would I)
- Although the phone calls and texts have slowed down (we all have lives), there are sooo many wonderful people in my life who are helping shovel some of this shit away… and I’m grateful.
- Today marks 12 years of not drinking… and boy am I thirsty! (For a Black Cherry Pop. It’s empowering when you take control of certain things in your life… people should try it)
3 thoughts on “One Three Four… now it’s probably 135… or 6”
This was simply awesome to read Darren. Your words always manage to bring me to tears in a good way! Keep doing you (whatever that happens to be at the time) Kateri would be so proud of your choices on this journey, and then say “enough of the sad shot! Much love to you Darren!
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Darren, this is so beautiful, I am so proud of you not drinking when the storms have hit you harder than others, your an inspiration. I am always thinking of you. Damn, sometimes life throws you a fucking curve ball, you have found good in that curve. still sucks this pile of shit..
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Cindy Maxfield Johnson
You are an amazing writer Darren! You have me mesmerized every time and I have tears every time. Keep taking it one day at a time! I really enjoyed the speech. My youngest daughter is getting married soon and her and they asked their parents to write down what it takes to make a good marriage to be read at their ceremony. I am still struggling with it and don’t have much time left. I wish I had your writing talent! 🙂 After reading your boat comment I just have to tell you that I heard a song on the ride to work the other day and I thought of you. You are probably not a country music fan (from what I have heard coming from the kitchen!) It is something like “Learning how to build a better boat”? I think it was Kenny Chesney. Just thought I would tell you about it! 🙂 Hang in there!
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