He wasn’t a perfect man. Nor was she a perfect woman.
When they got married in December of 1968, they were just a couple of young college kids. With nary a penny in their pockets and a baby on the way, they set out to make a life together.
In 1973, they added another in their ranks. I came along and made our family an even number. By this point, Dad was teaching social studies and coaching. The easy days of youthful ambition were a thing of the past; the horizon was a sea of adult responsibilities.
In all honesty, my childhood was pretty charmed. For most of it, we lived in one house, across from the local golf course. I had two friends nearby, Mike and Jesse and we spent countless hours riding our bikes, retrieving lost golf balls, building forts and exploring the woods. Meanwhile, Mom and Dad were just that…Mom and Dad.
They both worked full time. They both made every effort to come to our games or plays. They cheered hard at our every success. They put food on the table and clothes on our backs. It was, for the most part, a very stable home full of love. We knew what to expect as kids and our parents were consistent.
But every now and then, one of them would come home after a hard day at work. They both worked at local schools and saw the best and worst of the families they crossed paths with. And of course, school was and continues to be, fraught with politics and pressure.
I remember Dad coming home one day. It was in the fall, a chilly afternoon. Mom had come home exhausted and I, like any self-respecting young teenager conveniently only cared about my own existence, so didn’t seek to lighten her load any. When Dad walked through the door, it was clear that his day had been markedly better than hers.
He barely even kissed her on the cheek before she said, “You’re taking me to dinner tonight. I don’t care where. I’m not cooking.”
Mind you, we lived on a budget. Dinners out were a rare treat. I stood there, slack-jawed, waiting for Dad to respond with a loud voice, listing all the reasons we couldn’t afford to go out. In retrospect, I don’t think he’d ever done that before, but I’d also never seen my mom so adamantly put her foot down over a meal. Anything seemed possible.
Dad looked at her and said, “Okay. Where do you want to go? Brandy, get your coat.”
That was the moment I think when I really knew how deeply my parents loved each other.
It was such an easy exchange. No drama. No tears. No need for explanation. Just a simple need expressed and a gentle response of understanding. We grabbed our coats and headed out the door.
I asked Dad about it later. For some reason, the whole thing had taken me by such surprise. I asked why he was so quick to say yes. He turned to me and said, “If a dinner out every now and then is going to make your mom happy, I’m happy to do that. She doesn’t ask for much.” And then he went back to puttering.
It didn’t take much at all to make Mom happy that night. It took her husband, making the small effort to hear her words and know her heart and respond with a loving ‘yes’. That’s all.
And not only did we leave the restaurant that night, full of good food and laughter on our lips, not only did Mom feel valued and loved, but I walked away with an amazing picture of what love looks like.
As a child, it was an important moment that showed me how tenderly my dad honored his wife. That one simple act spoke volumes.
He wasn’t perfect. Nor was she. But they loved each other and they loved us. That love was displayed in a million different little ways and I’m forever grateful that my childhood was built on a foundation that they built together.
[Pictured: Jim and Teresa Page; circa 1995. Ogden, Utah.]