Thursday, October 05, 2006

Today's Moment of Dad...To Be a Dad, You Have to Have a Mate...Mom & Dad's Story

Well...since I ranted about Congressman Foley yesterday in my final post of the day, I'm going to take the high(er) road today and start off with a Moment of Dad.

If this post is too long for you, go read "Ziggy" or, better yet, "Family Circus". It's just sittin' in the corner waiting to suck (as said by Katie Holmes in the movie "Go").

Today, I'll be relating my knowledge of Mom & Dad's courtship (condensed), the proposal, and the wedding day.

Mom and Dad were married for 42 years...Mom was a June bride.

But before she could be a June bride, of course there had to be a reason for it.

My parents met (I believe) in the late '50s...or early '60s. I am not sure which (considering I wasn't even thought of yet). But at any rate, they met at Iowa State University. Mom was attending a conference of some sort, while Dad was visiting his cousin Ben.

Well, the way I remember it (and again, Mom, if you're reading this, correct me on the facts), Dad's cousin asked Mom's friend to go with him to a dance. Mom's friend said, "Only if you can find a date for Mary."

Thus, Dad was christened the "date for Mary", and they hit it off famously.

The thing with my mom, though, was she made a vow that she would never marry anyone who, quote, "drank, smoked, or was a farmer."

Of course, Dad was all three. That's how the universe works. Duh!

Anyway, she told Dad about her standards for a life partner, and Dad said, "Well, I'm really studying engineering, but I'm helping my folks out on the farm and taking some time off."


He had Mom believing it for a few weeks, but then he wrote her a letter on St. Patrick's Day confessing his untruths.

It helped that he had a few beers.

Mom didn't care by then, really...I guess that's what love can do to a person.

Dad was drafted and went to Germany for two years, and he and Mom stayed in touch. He didn't call very much (phone systems were much different back then, and calling overseas was both costly and hard to hear because of bad connections) but they wrote letters back and forth.

He came back sometime in '62 and "proposed" to her at Christmastime.

Why did I put "proposed" in quotes?

Well, Dad bought Mom's ring (which was a production in itself because Grandma Dawson, his sister in law Pat, and his niece Vickie all went along, and Vickie wanted a ring too so Dad bought her one) so the first step was finished. It was a beautiful ring too, a square cut solitare. After Mom developed arthritis in her hands and had the ring cut off, Dad had it converted to a diamond pendant and matching earrings.

However, the execution of the proposal almost got Dad killed.

Mom was at Grandma & Grandpa Dawson's celebrating Christmas, and so far, the only gift she'd gotten was...a bathrobe. It was a pretty bathrobe, but still, it was a bathrobe.

Is it extraneous to say she was pretty pissed? No? OK, then I will.

I remember when she told me the story, she said, "In my mind I was thinking 'That damned cheapskate! All he did was go in with his parents on a damned BATHROBE???' " (You've gotta love a response like that from a proper woman like my mother.)

Apparently, Mom's face betrayed her anger, because my dad said, "Mary, there's another box way in the back of the tree that hasn't been opened. Could you get it out for me?"

So Mom did.

Helpful fact to share before the story goes on...I'm not sure if this still happens, but back then, potato chips came in boxes. Probably the same size as a box of detergent or something, so fairly large.

Anyway, Dad stuffed the box with newspaper, put the ring box inside, and then had Grandma wrap the box. Or maybe he wrapped it. I don't know...I wasn't there.

Mom opened the potato chip box, found the ring and the box, and then Dad said, "How's June sound?"

Mom was pretty stunned as she replied, "OK, I guess."

So the wedding happened on June 23, 1963. Mom was a beautiful bride, the ceremony was very nice (I deduced this from the pictures).

And after the ceremony, as Mom and Dad recessed out and were heading down the stairs toward the receiving line, Dad asked my mother the burning question...

"Did you ever want something SO BAD, and then after you got it, you didn't want it anymore?" He grinned mischievously at Mom.

The only thing that saved my dad's life that day was Mom's hoop skirt under her wedding gown. She couldn't reach him to punch him out and watch him fall down the stairs.

That's true love.

More Dad tomorrow...