Today is my mom and dad’s 63rd wedding anniversary. He transitioned in 2002, but had he not they would still be together. So as far as I’m concerned it still counts.
Don’t they look happy and spiffy?! <3
Were it not for July 3, 1957, I would not be here. So I always consider their anniversary as a natural extension of my birthday celebration.
My mother is the quintessential definition of the dutiful military wife—which in times of war is essentially like being a single mother. I had the advantage of being born exactly a year after his retirement from his career as a combat medic in the U.S. Army. I didn’t get the trip to Germany and Fort Hood like the rest of my siblings and other army brats. But I got ALL the PTSD. Helluva trade-off.
Uncle Sam may have chewed my father up and spit him out [as he does most veterans], but that r*cist f*cker also grudgingly paid for the house and retirement pension that my mother lives in and still receives. And that’s also why my father grudgingly unfurled the flag on July 4th. Had he not been stationed at Fort Sam Houston—home of the combat medic—they would have never met, fell in love, and gotten married three months later at my late Aunt June’s house.
And since we are amidst “The Great Reckoning” and storytelling is healing—let me toss this here bone out of the f*cking closet…
My paternal grandmother was petty and unkind to both me and my mother for the duration of her natural life. A deeply colorstruck woman, she called my mother that “Black bitch” to everyone else in the family. It didn’t matter that she was married to a man the same shade of mahogany. I believe it’s because my mother’s DNA entered the lineage, and as a stepfather his didn’t.
That didn’t stop my father from adoring my mother—his “Honey Bun”—and standing up to his own mother in defense of his wife and children whenever necessary. Despite this shade and abuse, my mother remained a dutiful daughter-in-law who would come and wash my grandmother’s hair and clean her house when she was too old and feeble to do it herself.
It sucks to have to air this out. But the healing and reckoning of how deeply racism and colorism affects us across time/place/space/generation must be candidly addressed. And this is only the beginning.
This photo is pre-1992 since the photographer’s phone number is 512 area code before San Antonio became 210. They are likely at one of the lodges for the VFW, DAV or American Legion since he was a card-carrying member of all of them. When I turned 21 he showed me all his lifetime membership cards, took me out to drink at each of them, and told me how he taught my mama how to drink (five years his junior and rather sheltered coming from podunk Alabama).
Happy anniversary, Mom and Dad—I love you both deeply and dearly. Thank you for love and life.