anniversary. launches. sixty.

She reaches across the breakfast table and offers her hand.  Wrapped in a summery robe and a cap of fluffy new silver curls, she waits for his slow advance.  He inches his elbow toward her, leaning as he can to find the familiar embrace of fingers; then lights up to find them cupped around his own.  It is the morning of their 60th year.

She was a graduating college senior when, at Thanksgiving, he took her to his parent’s house in Birmingham. On the front porch swing of that unassuming bungalow, the two looked out on a long climbing road, one that meandered up out of dirt poor southern soil and twisted on above out of sight, holding possibilities they could not know.  The question quietly rose, and was answered.  Yes. Yes. They would take this road together.

Wedding proposals are getting so complicated, I read this week, that they are requiring proposal planners.  A woman casts her fishing line into the stream and comes up with a diamond that has been attached to the hook by professional divers under water.  Or buried in her molten chocolate cake by an accomplice chef.  But at 521 Broadway, there were no theatrics, not even any diamonds, save the one on my father’s mother’s hand, which she gave up to her son, so that he might make of it a ring for his new bride.  25 years later, for her own son, my mother quietly did the same.

I drive down Broadway last week, and pull over to take in the sloping lawn, the small porch that perches over it.  I spent my early holidays in this little house visiting grandparents, sleeping on the sofa that now anchors my living room.  I played on that old-fashioned porch swing, never knowing that it was where two lovers once took up a life.

Two blocks away, at the bottom of Broadway, I pick up GianMarco’s veal piccata, chevre torta, and fried green tomatoes for their 59th anniversary dinner.  I pull out their wedding china, with its striking singular rose, and cut my father’s meat.  I fetch the wedding album, and pour over pictures with Marilla, the caregiver who has joined us at the table.  A friend has made a fresh peach pie.

In the middle of dinner, my father grows intently quiet.  I see in his eyes the pain of spasms passing through him; they take over as they please, at any time.  My mother’s sight is so dimmed, she misses the  bread being passed to her.   For better or for worse, they are joined in one story – even as the broad road narrows at the top, even as it takes its sudden, frightening turns.  In sickness and in health, in a wheelchair and steadied by a cane, they yet do climb that long slow hill together.

When I see their two hands nestled like cups inside each other, I feel the living imperative: to love and to cherish.  They get up every morning, no matter how bleakly the day offers itself, and say yes to the love they chose sixty years ago.  At table, they lower their heads and give thanks for the gift in their hands, the one they have and hold.  It is what they have always done.  It is what they always will do.  Every uphill day. Till at death, they do part.

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~ by Susan on 08/08/2011.

3 Responses to “anniversary. launches. sixty.”

  1. A beautiful tribute to two of the most beautiful people I’ve been privileged to call my friends. I love them both so much. Thank you for these words.
    Dottie

  2. Lovely, Susan — “touching” in every sense of the word. Hope you had a wonderful time in Santa Fe!

  3. what a precious love story. sounds like my grandparents. 🙂

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