My parents took my sibs, my in-laws and me on a cruise to Alaska. It was a preemptive move of generosity. They were celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary and I guess they didn't want to do a reception. Didn't want it real bad!
We had fun of course. I knew we would -- a bunch of middle-aged people with a shared wit and one older couple looking on and joining in. But I was a bit leery too. My family is allergic to emotion and the whole idea of 60 years together is dripping with emotion. Celebrating a good marriage is an emotional thing especially when you are looking at its end.
My parents are finally old. They weren't old at 60, or very much at 70 but now at 80 they are old. They don't walk as well, they don't even think as well. I could see the change on this cruise and it was hard for this middle-aged lady to see.
They have been the kind of steady, capable people we all relied on. Sure, we are independent with our own homes and families but when you needed a hand it was always there. And never with an "I told you so", always gladly.
Still the cruise seemed like a huge distraction. Don't think, don't feel, enjoy, make a joke.
I don't always want to live out the family mythos, even as benign as it is.
Therefore, I was glad emotion broke out on fore deck 12, in the Port room on Thursday at 2:00pm on their actual anniversary. We had reserved the room and gathered the family. NCL wanted to know if we wanted cake and balloons. No, we said, we have eaten enough. We did buy a bottle of champagne. While we drank the champagne we read poems of our own creation. They were all different. One came from my sister in-law about the impact Joan and Dave's easy, loving marriage had had on her when she was a girl and first met my mother. Her parents were not like that. We started to leak. We turned away so we could finish our awkwardly rhymed sentences. We knew we loved each other. We knew we loved these old people who were our parents.
Brother David brought out his guitar and we sang "What a wonderful world." It was a perfect moment, if not a perfect chorus.