Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The 'Rents


the ridiculously good-looking couple above, who also happen to be my parents, celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary recently, which you would never guess by looking at their spry little selves. but in the old world, getting married at 19, like my mom did, was just how things went.

they met at a mutual friend’s wedding, where sparks flew after they locked eyes and continued to ignite once they got to talking. my mom even confesses to a little kissing action at this wedding — “but that’s all that happened, because this was a different time and we were not as permissive as your generation, milla.”

when they returned to their respective ukrainian towns, a long-distance relationship punctuated by love letters followed, as did a few meet-the-family visits. a mere nine months later they were married — still virtual strangers by their own admission — but married nonetheless and dedicated to building a life together.

they say that this dedication alone carried them through the last 40 years, many of which were lousy. just give my dad two shots of vodka and he’ll be happy to tell you about the first 10 years of his marriage, which were spent living with his in-laws in a dingy communist housing project in Lvov.

then came the big move to america when i was 3, my sister 9. more struggles followed. at first, we used food stamps to eat and watched sesame street to learn english. my dad drove a cab while my mom went to night school. i have very few memories of this time but i remember that we watched The Jazz Singer on betamax A LOT.

i also remember the day, just months after buying their first home, that both my parents lost their jobs. i must have been 6 or 7. mom served us dinner that night, and i remember sitting across the table and watching my dad eat silently as tears slid off his face and into his borscht. he never once looked up. mom stood behind him with her hands on his shoulders the entire time.

forty years later, they’re still standing by each other. through all the birthdays and the first days of school, the graduations and vacations, the arguments and illnesses in the family, the deaths of their parents and births of their grandchildren. forty years of personal and professional triumphs and tragedies. good times and bad, sickness and health, richer and poorer, they stuck it out because they said they would and, along the way, managed to stay in love and serve as an inspiration to everyone lucky enough to know them — me especially.

happy 40th anniversary, mom and dad.


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