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When Your Parents Were Lovers

When Your Parents Were Lovers VThis month would have been my parents’ 67th wedding anniversary. They had only 40 years together before my father died in 1989, and Mom passed away last November. Through the years, she always marked the date. I’ll continue the tradition and think of them as young, healthy lovers.

The grainy, black-and-white photographs from 1946 fluttered to the floor, free from decades of bondage among hundreds of photos in my mother’s leather albums. I picked up the images and stared at my parents and strained to imagine the young couple in love.

My father stood in his Army fatigues in front of a row of tanks in Japan. While he served overseas after World War II, his wallet contained the photo of my mother in a swimming suit. My earliest images of her are quite different. I remember her in a large flowered dress, waving to me with plump arms while admonishing me to “be good” because my father was coming home from work. I’m shocked that she once was a charming young woman, smiling to her fiancé, wearing a bathing suit in front of a flower garden. I wish I had known her then.

Another photo from 1948 was a self-portrait, taken long before instant selfies were available on cellular telephones. Their young innocence amazes me. I imagine my mother sewing linens for her hope chest while listening to the Glenn Miller Orchestra on the radio. I see my father coaxing an old tractor to complete one more row in the field before dark. They married on a cool day in late November 1948 with nothing but determination and grit. The years brought prosperity and heartache. Dad passed away in 1989 after receiving a cancerous, transplanted liver. Mom slipped into dementia a few years ago and died last November, just short of what would have been their 66th wedding anniversary.

I never saw them hug and kiss. I guess the stress of several businesses and bad health depleted their romantic energy. For several years, my father lived in another state during the week where he operated a trucking business. Every year Dad would give me money to buy Mom presents for Christmas and other special occasions. She would always buy him a patio lounge chair for Father’s Day. The fabric rotted, unused, in the sun.

Of all the faded photos I’ve examined, none are as profound as the ones of the young couple in love. That’s how I choose to remember them. They were beautiful, before the trauma and drama of life cheated them out of growing old together. I want them to know their legacy is strong, and lives on through their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Are your parents still living? Are they tired and getting feeble? Maybe you could take a few hours and visit with them. Ask them about their courtship, their marriage, and their first years together. I predict they will open their hearts and their scrapbooks and begin to talk. Help them celebrate the memories of their young love. It matters.

Elaine Ambrose

Elaine Ambrose is an award-winning author of ten books and a regular contributor to Huffington Post. Her widely syndicated blog Midlife Cabernet appears on her own site, as well as on Blogher, Jennings Wire, Humor Outcasts, and Project Eve. She is a regular contributor to Huffington Post and Midlife Boulevard. Her new book, Midlife Cabernet, won the 2014 Silver Medal for Humor from the Independent Book Publisher Awards program, and Publishers Weekly claimed the book is “Laugh-out-loud funny!” Foreword Reviews wrote that the book is “an Erma Bombeck-esque argument for joy.” Through her company Mill Park Publishing, Elaine also organizes writing and wellness retreats for women in the Idaho Mountains. Her author web site is

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Elaine Plummer

Sunday 13th of December 2015

Love a love story. Makes me want to hug Allan and thank him for making me part of a really good one. Nice read on a Sunday evening.

Elaine Ambrose

Sunday 13th of December 2015

Thanks, Elaine. It took me awhile, but I finally found my mate.

Ruth Knox

Friday 11th of December 2015

Beautiful way to choose to remember your parents.

Elaine Ambrose

Saturday 12th of December 2015

Thanks, Ruth. I want to remember them as happy.

Kim Acedo

Thursday 3rd of December 2015

What a really sweet post. I appreciate you sharing this, Elaine. Thank you.

Elaine Ambrose

Saturday 12th of December 2015

Thanks, Kim. The holidays always prompt sweet and poignant memories.

Lois Hoffman

Wednesday 2nd of December 2015

Nice post. My parents are still living and I suspect are as much in love as they were when they were married. It wasn't always perfect, far from it. But, there is something that comes with depending on each other and counting on each other that makes that loving bond. You are right. I should call.

Elaine Ambrose

Saturday 12th of December 2015

True, Lois. Our parent's relationship often become our first example of what marriage should be - or shouldn't be.


Wednesday 2nd of December 2015

My parents remained lovers throughout their 50+ years of marriage. Deep kisses and full-bodied hugs, cuddling on the couch, and holding hands, were part of my childhood and continued through their retirement.

When my dad was dying, my mother suffered. She suffers still, 15 years later.

That said, Mom's advice to engaged couples is always the same: Some times you will wonder why you married this person. Sometimes you won't even like them. Sometimes that feeling will last a day, a week, or even a year. Hang on. Grace and hope will carry you through those times.

Elaine Ambrose

Wednesday 2nd of December 2015

Beautiful testimony, Adela. I love stories of successful marraiges.

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