I don’t have to include everything but what do I leave out?

I wasn’t going to write tonight.  I was going to go to bed early after a healthy chapter or two of the funniest book this side of…I don’t know what.  But it’s really stinkin’ funny.  I’m still convinced that, other than the Republican tendencies, Ms. Lancaster and I should totally be BFFs.  I would never speak.  Just laugh like a fool.  And hide from her dogs because I’m not so much a critter person.

I’m writing now because my mom called me about half an hour ago.  I almost didn’t answer.  But I did because she never calls that late and, my luck, there would be a crisis of some kind.  Not a crisis but she needed a favor.

My parents have been married for 34 years.  Soon to be 35.  Since my brother, sister and I are slack-asses, she is throwing herself a party.  It’s like a picnic with the vow renewal and the absence of cake.  (Seriously?  A family function without cake?  Who does that?  Philistines.) It will mostly be family because, sadly, they have worked really hard in the restaurant industry all their lives which doesn’t leave much room in their social calendar.  Kind of like theatre.  She has asked for a speech.  Well what she asked was for me to write something like a timeline and then read it at the dinner.  Ummm…okay.  How am I supposed to say no to that? 

She said that I don’t have to include everything but just that they were high school sweethearts and got married right after graduation and blah, blah, happily ever after.  I know I can write it but I don’t know if I can read it.  And maybe I should do a slide show?  Probably not because I don’t have access to their pictures but that would be a nice touch.  You don’t have to include everything she says.

What do I leave out?  My brother’s failed first marriage?  The death of their first grandson?  The death of their son-in-law? That restaurant fiasco in Belize?  The second restaurant fiasco of Rocco proportions?  And that’s just the last 6 years.  The first 29 years were better.  There was no abuse.  There were plenty of family vacations.  Hand holding in public.  Kissing in front of my high school friends.  Meals.  Church.  Family gatherings with potentially dangerous volume levels.  Differences in driving lessons.  Differences in the definition of “You’re grounded.”  Not coughing up some cash so that I could go to England summer before my senior year with, seriously, every friend I had.  Turning a blind eye to a little booze on their kids’ breath; just happy that we were home safe.

They were and are good parents.  They are of the “me” generation, that’s for sure.  Even now, it’s all about them.  I know I’ve written about my mother that way but my father is of the same thinking. For example:

Dad:  How are you?

Me:  Oh, I’m alright.  I had to take the van in.  I thought it was the brakes but it wasn’t.  It was more like a $900 wheel problem.

Dad:  Oh, well, I sold a van yesterday.  That makes 5 so far this month. You know, I’m really getting the hang of this car sales thing.  If I can get them into the driver’s seat, I can write the paperwork.  Unless they don’t have the money and you wouldn’t believe how often that happens…

Wait…what?  Didn’t you ask how *I* am doing.  Anyway, you get the picture.

I hope I can get through the speech, just a little something I wrote, without crying.  I’ll just have to read the words one at a time.  And not think too hard.  Because I’m not crying for nostalgia or because I’m so thankful or loving or whatever.  I have the potential for tears because it should have been my daughter, writing a speech for me. 

Stephen and I should have been the guests of honor and the year should be 2037.  Married 35 years and look how in love they are.  Madly, deeply.  Until the end of time.  Until death do us part.  And then some.

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