Half a century ago this week, my life was changed. That may sound a little strange, considering I wasn’t even born fifty years ago. I wasn’t even thought about. Still, if this momentous event hadn’t occurred five decades ago, I wouldn’t be sitting here typing these words to you. In fact, I wouldn’t be sitting here at all.
Fifty years ago, my mom and dad got married.
She was eighteen years old. He was nineteen. Together, they thought they could face anything and everything. And they just about did.
The year was 1960, and bouffant hairdo’s were all the rage. In that first ten years of their marriage, the world was introduced to Hot Wheels, Legos, Easy-bake Ovens, and the Peanuts characters. The first man walked on the moon. The Beach Boys, The Beatles, and The Brady Bunch appeared on the scene. And two great men, JFK and MLK, were assassinated.
By the time 1970’s arrived, I’m sure some of the romance had faded. They had one child in elementary school and another in preschool when The Watergate Scandal broke loose. There were bills to pay, dishes to wash, bell-bottoms to fold. But at least there was some really great music, with the appearance of The Carpenters, Chicago, and Bread. Rubik’s Cube was introduced, along with Atari, Uno, and Nerf Balls. It cost about $2.00 to see Star Wars, Jaws, and Saturday Night Fever at the movie theater. At home in our living room, we watched Nixon’s resignation, “The Partridge Family”, “Charlie’s Angels” and “The Donny and Marie Show.” We greeted one another with Mork’s Orkian handshake, and wore striped suspenders and toe socks.
After surviving the era of disco and lava lamps, Mom and Dad greeted the 80’s with gusto. Ronald Reagan made history with his soothing voice and winning smile, and brought with him an economic boom that defines that era. ET, Back to the Future, and Driving Miss Daisy were box office hits, while shows like “Dallas”, “Murder She Wrote,” and “Different Strokes” dominated the airwaves. Madonna, Hulk Hogan and Chuck Norris made their marks, along with Joe Montana, Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson. Everyone who was anyone wanted a pair of Ray-Ban shades, and we all wore legwarmers and shoulder pads while we played Pac-Man, Donkey Kong and Frogger. On June 12, 1987, the world was changed by President Reagan’s famous words: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” On November 9 – 11, 1989, the people of a free Berlin did exactly that.
Mom and Dad would tell you the 1990’s was a good decade for them, for that’s when they became grandparents. Sports history was made when a 44 year-old Nolan Ryan pitched his 7th no-hitter, and Bret Favre threw a record 39 touchdowns in one season. Major League Baseball went on strike, the World Series was cancelled, and the U.S won its first gold medal in gymnastics on injured Kerri Strugs’ final attempt. Everyone wanted to look like “Friends” star Jennifer Aniston – or at least they wanted her hair – and all the single gals wanted to marry “ER’s” George Clooney. Julia Roberts brought new publicity to the world’s oldest profession in Pretty Woman, and many of us listened to the music of the Backstreet Boys while rollerblading in our pre-ripped jeans.
And then, we all bought gallons and gallons of water and stored it in our garages, just in case the world ended on the eve of Y2K. I’m still not sure how water was supposed to help; I think it just made us all feel like we were doing something productive. But a little over a year and half after the start of the new millennium, the world as we knew it really did end. On September 11, 2001, some very sick people hijacked American planes. On that day, the earth stood still, and nothing has been the same since.
In the last decade, we learned about tsunamis and hurricanes. East and West Germany were reunited, and Barbie turned 50. We elected our first African-American president, and rejoiced when Prince William finally popped the question to his lovely Katherine. We fell in love with Friday Night Lights and The Gilmore Girls, and somehow, slowly, the world seemed to start spinning again.
But our little family’s world stopped in 2008, when Dad was diagnosed with cancer. They operated. They couldn’t get it all. Chemo wasn’t an option. Radiation wasn’t an option.
But God doesn’t need our options, does He? With Him, anything is possible. The same God who witnessed the marriage vows of a couple of teenagers back on December 23, 1960, the same God who comforted them when JFK and MLK were shot, the same God who carried them through the hippie culture, who gave them wisdom as they parented teens in the 70’s and 80’s, the same God who rejoiced with them as those children each graduated from college and married and had children of their own, the same God who calmed their fears as they watched the Twin Towers fall – the same God who was and is and always will be – He has carried Mom and Dad through even this latest storm. As of today, Dad is healthy and strong, and Mom is doing her best to take care of him, just like she always has.
My brother and I are blessed beyond words to have the gift of these two wonderful people as our parents. Thanks, Mom and Dad, for sticking it out through thick and thin. Thanks for teaching us to love unconditionally. That thing you did – back on December 23, 1960 – I think it was a really good idea.
“What God has joined together, let no one separate,” Matthew 19:6.