When I was 12 years old, my dad left. The divorce was messy and took two long years to settle. My thoughts and feelings about love were deeply affected throughout adolescence, a time when I was first having my own experiences with dating and love first-hand.

I didn’t think much of love. It just caused pain. I didn’t think love could last. My dad left for another woman. So wouldn’t you know it, I dated guys who were untrustworthy and caused me pain. Don’t tell me our family history doesn’t affect who we choose to love.

Several years of therapy later I understood why I did this. And when I was 24, my mom married my “step”- dad. I put “step” in quotes because over the years he has truly become a dad to me. They just celebrated their 36th wedding anniversary. Mom is 86 and Dad is 93.

I thought about how their marriage has affected me over the years, helped me heal and changed my feelings about love and relationships. I thought about how their marriage has affected others. And because I like to write, I wrote them a letter about it.

I am sharing it with you so if you have had difficulty in love, this will give you hope. Here is my tribute to my parents. Thanks, Mom and Dad!

Because of your marriage…

My ParentsBecause of your marriage, it’s been a better life for me.
It helped me heal from the divorce in my childhood. It gave me hope that marriage could work and that love could last.
It showed me the meaning of commitment and hard work, and devotion to a relationship.
It filled me with the love of parents who unconditionally gave to their children, who were there in happy times and sad; who supported, helped, guided and taught their children all that they know, so that their kids can live the best life possible.
It gave me stability and comfort, a solid floor under my feet to push off from, knowing there’d be a soft landing when I needed one.
It taught me the value of family and marriage.

 

Because of your marriage, it’s been a better life for your children’s spouses.
Your sons-in-law and daughter-in-law have felt the love of accepting, caring, thoughtful, generous and kind parents.
They have had a beautiful model of two people and two families who blended together in an inclusive and heartfelt way.

Because of your marriage, it’s been a better life for your grandchildren.
They saw a patriarch and matriarch who led the family with love and affection, with sensitivity and understanding, who were there whenever needed at the first call.
They learned the value of family meals made and served with love.
They saw grandparents who strove to achieve the highest professional goals with integrity, honesty and passion. They learned about facing and getting through loss and hard times.
They learned about self-sufficiency and financial independence.
They saw grandparents who accepted all people and lifted others up, regardless of the color of their skin or their ethnicity or religion.
They learned about generosity and giving.

Because of your marriage, it’s been a better world – for your many friends and the countless people you have touched, at professional meetings, in your counseling practice, at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, and in the grocery store. Your loving spirits and warm hearts are evident to all who meet you.

Because of your marriage…
I am so fortunate to have you as my parents. I love and appreciate you both always and forever. Happy 36th Anniversary!!