Seventy-five years ago today, my parents were married in New York City. They were married for 51 years before Dad died, followed by Mom eight years later. It seems like a good day to reflect on their life together.
Mom and Dad lived in Nova Scotia during the Depression. Dad moved next door to Mom and he must have been captivated by her blond beauty and her pretty blue eyes. She on the other hand must have been fascinated by this handsome man from a French Canadian family. When he had saved up enough money, Dad proposed and Mom accepted. She travelled to New York to buy her trousseau.
Mom’s four older sisters had gone to live in The States because there were more job openings for “convent-trained” secretaries and nurses, and they had all settled there and had husbands and families. Mom’s father had worked on the Canadian National Railway so Mom was able to get a very inexpensive ticket to NYC. But Dad got impatient and couldn’t wait. She was there only a few days when he arrived and they decided to get married at St. Nicholas Church, on January 9, 1937.
Later that year, in December, my oldest brother was born. He was the first of 11 siblings, and although Mom came from a family of eleven children, she was the 10th and was not a very
neat organized housekeeper. Our household was chaotic!
Dad worked long hours to provide for all of us and I can honestly say that we had all the food and clothing we needed. We had music lessons, art lessons, and dance lessons. We took part in every kind of sport and if we wanted something, we got it.
Everyone came to our house. Well, half the town was already there!!! Some mornings I’d come downstairs and find young fellows sleeping on the living room rug. They didn’t have a place to sleep and one of my brothers invited them home. Mom would be there asking them questions about their families and making them feel welcome.
There was always music, piano, guitar, and singing. I’m sure the neighbours cringed when my brother took up the saxophone and decided to practice outside in the backyard. Whenever Mom and Dad had a little disagreement, we’d find Dad playing some passionate composition on the piano. I guess it was better than yelling and we knew enough to steer clear.
Mom and Dad loved each other and each of their eleven children and they made us feel special. They taught us right from wrong and they taught us to be kind to others. They taught us to work hard and to get an education. They taught us to not give up but to keep on trying. When they were in their 60s, they signed up for university courses. Dad had retired but became a school crossing guard. Mom had never had a paying job in her life but she worked for a charity once a week. They belonged to church organizations and I know that Dad helped out many families who were having financial difficulties. He started a group of businessmen who, anonymously, provided bicycles for children whose families couldn’t afford them.
My own marriage has benefitted from seeing Mom and Dad handle the ups and downs of a life together. My husband’s parents were very similar to my own. They had 10 children and then decided to adopt two more for an even dozen. They were married for 35 years until his Dad died at 59. His mother is still alive at almost 91.
Marriage. A life lived together!