Married For Forty Years: My Parents The Unicorns

Robyn and Jim Avitable, today and 40 years ago

Why do you build me up buttercup, baby
Just to let me down and mess me around
And then worst of all you never call, baby
When you say you will but I love you still
I need you more than anyone, darlin’
You know that I have from the start
So build me up buttercup, don’t break my heart

Forty years ago, my 21-year old mother and my 23-year old father stood awkwardly in front of a Catholic priest, nervous and anxious, eager with anticipation, and declared their love for each other. Two children (practically) committed to each other, unaware of what the future could hold, with no guarantees except the potential each of them saw in the other’s hearts.

And here they are today. Happy, successful, and retired, they live a good life – a life they deserve, a perfectly balanced relationship gyroscope. Their complaints are minor and superficial, nothing more than a familiar patter that’s been rehearsed for decades. My parents are, above all else, still madly in love (maybe even more so now that they don’t have any of us around).

The lessons they’ve taught and the examples they’ve set are almost incalculable. My father’s respect for my mother is quiet and unspoken yet clear and heroic. The matriarchal role my mother steps into effortlessly is gracious and benevolent, filled with mutual love. Together they demonstrate what a marriage is supposed to be. How to roll the dice and walk away a winner. That when you make the right choice, and you listen to your heart and mind, love isn’t a gamble at all.

Happy anniversary, Mom and Dad. I love you.

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