My mom tells the story often: when my dad met her, she was extremely shy and insecure. She was a waitress at the Staff NCO Club on Kaneohe Bay Marine Corps Base, and he was a cook while also a water safety instructor as a Gunny at the base pool.
My dad was 13 years older than my mom, and I promise, if he would have been a Company Gunny instead of an instructor, the young Marines would have noticed the fact that Company Gunny just married a girl their age. But because he was an instructor, and he had so much freedom, it gave my mom an unrealistic view about what the Marine Corps was really like.
They met when they started chatting after work every day. They chatted mostly about Jesus because my mom had just come home to Kailua from LA where she worked for a mission for the two years after she dropped out of college. She wasn’t a good student and as she tells it, “I only got into Whittier college because my Grandpa Moody paid my entire tuition in cash.”
As they got to know each other, he began to encourage her to speak up and stand up for herself. She would teach her how to use her voice and that her thoughts and opinions were worth hearing. When my mom told the story, you’d hear dad adding from the other room “And I created a monster.”
Even when he said that, you can see that he was proud of her and always supported everything she wanted to do whether it was paint Mardi Gras masks to sell on Bourbon Street, become the first nail tech in our small town in Missouri, or become a bartender at the E-club on base.
My mom accepted my dad with all his flaws exactly who he was, and he did the same for her.
He always worked hard for his family and sometimes that meant that he didn’t spend much time with us, but nothing got in the way of his love for my mom. They went through many difficult times, but they always talked it through and compromised no matter how bleak the outcome seemed to be from everyone around them. They made it a priority to come to an agreement they could both live with.
Mom and dad began as best friends and that friendship continued every day until he left us.
I can remember hearing the murmuring of their talking voices at night from a young age. I rarely got to hear what they talked about, but they talked and never tired of it. It wasn’t a thing they had to do; it was who they were.
41 years is a lot of years to be with one person. Even through the hard times they made it work. You know I’m a teacher and I can’t leave you without some things that I want to remember and I hope you remember to make your love last.
Make Your Love Last
- Be friends first and always. Your spouse should be the one you love enough to talk about anything with. It’s not a chore to talk; it should be who you are as a couple. The difficult things, the uncomfortable things, the awkward things, all the things… nothing should be off the table for discussion.
- Let one another be imperfect and love them for it. If you tease each other, make it with love behind it. My parent’s teasing was never out of meanness or being passive aggressive. They actually teased one another about the things they loved the most about each other.
- Tell your story to everyone. Everyone wants to be bragged about. Every person that ever met my mom heard their love story. No one missed out. And every time she told it, he got to hear it again, add his statement we knew he’d always say, “And I created a monster.” and she would continue. But each time she told the story, she was bragging about him to anyone new. She was telling everyone that she was loved more than most people will ever be loved. Every time she told it, he heard it and was reminded of why he fell in love with her.
My mom’s number one advice for being married 41 years is “Become friends first!” but as we might know, that’s not that easy and it doesn’t seem to be the only thing that helps the longevity of a relationship. Instead, be friends first so that when you tease one another, it is out of love and tell your story often so that you remember often why you fell in love.
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