Wednesday, June 30, 2010

50 Years

D-fish will be going dark this weekend.  I’m hanging up a sign, “Gone Fishin’”.

OK, it would probably be more accurate to hang a sign that said, “Going to the beach and laying around for four days, playing in the surf and eating and drinking like a pig.”  But the other one’s easier.

We’re heading for Amelia Island Plantation, a resort just to the northeast of Jacksonville, right up in the far northeast corner of Florida.  The reason?  Besides the aforementioned laying, playing, eating and drinking?  July 4th will be my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary.  For this occasion, my parents, my brother and his family, my sister and her husband, and Pinky and I are all getting together for a beach weekend.  That’s all my folks really wanted; the whole family together in one place. 
Married only 5 years, and here we all are!

We’re heading out early Friday morning and returning Tuesday.  I’d like to say I plan on dropping a post or two… my nephew is bringing his laptop, but I don’t see a situation where that happens.  But rest assured I’ll provide a full recap upon my return.

I know what you’re saying… “Your parents really got married on the 4th of July?”

Yep, they did.  Dad says they did it so that they’d always get their anniversary off work.  And you wonder where I get my “planning” compulsion…

They honeymooned up in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains.  Mom says Dad spent the night throwing cherry bombs in the pool.  OK, that, I disown.  Also, Dad won the Bathing Beauty Contest, where all the newly minted husbands dressed in their wives’ clothing and had a pageant.  It’s true… I’ve seen the pictures.  Lucky for Dad, I don’t have a copy. 

My parents got married pretty young… they were 21 and 20, I believe.  Five years later, we three kids show up.  A couple years later, they moved our whole motley crew out of Pittsburgh.  That meant there was no more built in support system.
What the hell is Mom up to?  Probably just waiting to send our little asses to bed!

But that’s how we rolled.  We moved about the Midwest as my Dad saw fit, whenever he could get a job that bettered our family’s situation.  There were tough times, but nothing we kids noticed; we never wanted for anything. 

Dad told me a number of years ago that for our first Christmas in Chicago, the year after we left Pittsburgh, they got us second-hand ice skates because they couldn’t afford new ones.  Dad said he’d felt guilty about that, even now. 

I told him to forget about it!  I remember that Christmas and I was thrilled just to get the skates!  We never even noticed that they weren’t new. 

Mom and Dad are different as night and day and the influence of both has made me the dude I am now. 

Mom is the wordsmith… the teacher, the poet, the writer, the activist.  You can see the effects from my mom in every post I write.  (Even the ones about poop!  In fact, Mom gave me my first “dirty” jokes to tell.)  Mom was the Editor in Chief of every paper I ever wrote, which often led to some spirited disagreements.  Mom would point out every incomplete sentence, misspelling, clunky paragraph and incomplete thought.  I thought all of my papers could be turned in as is, always.  Remember, this was before PCs… if you had to revise; you had to retype… usually the entire goddamn paper.  Gah!

Eventually I began to learn what the hell I was doing.  Still, I remember once, long after I was on my own, I’d mailed Mom a story I’d written to see what she thought of it.  I called home about a week later and Dad answered.  I asked if Mom had read my story yet.  Dad said, “Yeah, but she’s out at the store now… she had to go get a new red pen.”

Dad… the ball-buster, the breadwinner, protector of the family, the arbiter of all disputes and layer down of the law.  Dad was the engineer… the numbers guy.  I didn’t get any of that, unfortunately, but my brother did.  But I have the need to have things make sense.  If something doesn’t work, I need to figure out why.

He didn’t like having to travel for his job, leaving his family alone, but he did what he had to do to provide.  And he was still there to coach our teams or throw a ball with us.  He taught me to seize an opportunity when it presented itself… to weigh the pros and cons and then do the right thing. 

He taught me to value self-sufficiency.  With his guidance, I paid for almost all of my college degree.  I decided to go to a local college and live at home to lower the bill, but I worked part time jobs all the way through and banked ¾ of every check.  I pulled it off right up to my last semester, when I came up about $500 short.  They wrote that last check for me, but still, they got off pretty lightly with my education.  And by the end of that summer, I moved out on my own, just because I thought it was the right thing to do.  (OK, I wanted to shack up with my girlfriend too, but still…)

I only wish we could get everyone there to Florida… everyone from my generation upon whom my parents had an impact.  They were like de facto parents to all my buddies… they were the grownups that kids came to see when they had a problem that they couldn’t bring to their own parents.  Around the neighborhood, they were known as “The Oldes”, or “The Elderlies”.  They were terms of endearment and said with affection.  They had to be… hell, I’m as old now as they were when my friends were calling them The Elderlies.  (Ouch!)

But this weekend, the family is getting together to have a Wild Rumpus and for the first time in quite a while, it’s not revolving around a football game.  In fact, we’ve all been to Amelia Island before, back in 2006, when the Steelers were playing Jacksonville.  But this time, it’s just us and the beach.  And 50 years of stellar memories.

Happy Annivesary, you old farts!  Now let’s play…

20 comments:

  1. Go have fun. Enjoy, take pictures, then share with us. Looking forward to them.

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  2. Christy,
    What's the point of doing anything, if you can't blog about it?

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  3. Oooh! I love Amelia Island! You are near our old stomping grounds--Georgia's Golden Isles! Jekyll is where we spent many a vacation, and Sea Island and St. Simon's is where we go to play golf!
    A couple of years ago we thought about moving back to the Georgia coast, and planned a rip to check out the real estate. It did not go well. It was so hot and humid that we thought we were going to die! Bugs were everywhere, and even though we had the BEST SHRIMP on earth for dinner one night at Frederica House, we just could not give up our zero humidity weather in Tucson. It was Rod who gave in first. He told me if I would just give up this idea, when we got home I could have our master bath remodeled. Well, that went by the boards when he found out just how much that would cost!
    I hope you have a WONDERFUL vacation! If you find any sand dollars, please bring them home! They will make wonderful tree ornaments once they have been bleached and dried. A great remembrance for your family!

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  4. I'm just hoping for no oil or hurricanes.

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  5. You are not likely to see any oil on the Atlantic. I did a study of hurricanes before we went looking at houses. You are pretty safe at Amelia Island.

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  6. I blog about things I probably shouldn't at times, but boy do I have fun. Keep blogging! I'll find something to tell you too.

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  7. Beautiful blog entry Tony, although I am somewhat pregedious; 50 years went by quickly. Having the family together is the best anniversary gift possible. Thanks for all your family contributions. Am loading up the car and will see you at the Jax airport. Dad

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  8. I think your mom and I would be good friends. I love her red-pen-wielding fury!

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  9. Great story--congrats to your folks on 50 years!

    My parents had all three of us by the time they were just 22 and 23. Yep, a good Catholic-Law abiding couple, until they had their third kid in four years.

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  10. We were really too young to get married and go on a honeymoon like big people. We probably should have gone to camp. But camp didn't allow cherry bombs.
    Yes. Dad did win the beauty contest in an ensemble of our devising. He couldn't wear my lingerie like all the skinny grooms did.
    And yes. Three kids in four years seriously alters the "good Catholic-Law abiding " perspective. I always wanted many children and accumulated quite a few.
    We've had a great ride. The best is just ahead.

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  11. Awww. Your parents sound so super awesome! Your dad sure sounds a lot like my husband. It's almost scary.

    And I can totally relate to having a writer-Mom. She used to work for a newspaper and such and so she always used red to edit my papers. I think for Mother's Day one year I actually bought her a bouquet of red pens...

    Happy Anniversary to your AWESOME parents!

    (And what's wrong with being married at 21? Gosh, by the time I'm 26 I'll have 3 kids!)

    (BTW, I was just busting your balls...it's fun!)

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  12. Happy Anniversary to your parents from us! Nothing can replace the value of extended family, and having all of you together will increase joy immeasurably. Have a wonderful time.We will be waiting for your photos and updates, bluz.

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  13. Judie,
    Part of my job entails tracking hurricanes and making sure our branches are prepared for whatever comes their way. I know it’s out of the primary firing line, but we have had a major storm or two there in the last couple years. I know there’s nothing on the horizon right now, but I couldn’t say that when we made the reservations back in January.

    And so far, the oil hasn’t made it around the Florida bend. But it’s all over where my parents live, in Pensacola.

    Christy,
    The last year and a half I’ve spent blogging is one of the high points of my life. It’s like I’ve finally found a place to channel my creative energies that until then, had no where to go.

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  14. Dad,
    We’re looking forward to a grand time. I hope all the “isolated showers” in the forecast are indeed “isolated” and don’t cut into our beach/pool time.

    My contributions = Being a wise-ass and writing a bunch of goofy sht.

    Like I said when you asked me if you were OK with my younger brother being your estate executor… “If you need your bio written, come to me; if you want your estate settled, go to the Accountant.”

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  15. Jessica R,
    While I can see the value now, it was NOT fun at the time, although I DID get a lot of typing practice. Boy, did I ever love getting that fancy electric typewriter for college…


    Sherry,

    Thanks! That was often just the way things were supposed to be, coming out of the 50s… you got married young and started having kids right off the bat.

    I’m amazed now that anyone can deal with 1 kid, let alone 3 or more, without losing their marbles.


    Mary Ann,
    Of course he couldn’t wear your lingerie… you were what, a size minus-4?

    So in the course of the 50 years, you accumulated 3 kids and half a neighborhood… probably more than you ever bargained for…

    See you at the airport tomorrow!

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  16. Cassie,
    They’re considering coming to the Darwinfish Fry on 8/1, so you may be able to meet them then.

    Nothing wrong with getting married at that age and having all those kids… I just know I couldn’t have done it. (Or done it well, anyway.)

    And you leave my balls alone. It’s going to be difficult enough getting them out for possible snippage, without them having to handle being busted!

    Cher,
    I'll pass it on. By this time tomorrow, we'll all be there. And probably drinking heavily. Daniel is so responsible, maybe he can be designated driver!

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  17. Congrats to the 'rents! 50 years is awesome.

    I love the line about your mom: "she had to go get a new red pen"! That's the kind of editor I need if I ever publish! I bet it's a mixed blessing.

    We moved around all the time, too. I read some of that post and found so much in common, and I LOVE the idea of doing a map of everywhere I've been. That's fantastic! I may do that. The map will have to be a bit bigger, though, to include TX, MI, WV and CO. :)

    Have a wonderful time! Relax, chill, have fun. Awesome.

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  18. Cristy,
    It's funny about editing. I can find errors in other people's writing very easily... it's so much harder when it's your own, especially when it's fresh. I usually don't find my errors until the day after I've posted. (Then I have to wait all day before I can fix them, because I can't access from work.) So Mom was filling a valuable service

    Looks like you covered a lot of ground with your moves... in a much wider area than we did. One project I took up a couple years ago was getting a large US map and putting pins in places I've lived or visited, just to have a graphic representation of my travels. Still needs a lot of work in the plains states but I have the East coast pretty well covered...

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  19. Bluz, that story about the skates melted my heart in a giant puddle all over The Guy's living room floor.

    I'm really glad you were the kind of kids who didn't notice your skates weren't brand-new.

    And I'm really glad you had the kind of parents who cared that they weren't.

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  20. BG,
    That's so sweet. I guess I never thought too much about it. And it's really funny that I never noticed the skates weren't new and had no idea until Dad said so once I was grown.

    Either I was totally past the whole materialistic thing, or I was just borderline-retarded.

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