Happy Anniversary to the Best Parents Ever!

by | Jan 14, 2014

Mom & Dad on their Alaskan Cruise

Today is my mommy and daddy’s anniversary. In honor of this couple who have taught me so much about forever love, I wanted to post an essay that I included in the first book I wrote. A wedding gift book called With This Ring: Promises to Keep.

Thank you Cliff and Annette Gustafson for giving me a front row seat to an epic love story – not a stale script acted out on a screen, but a vibrant romance lived out before me every single day!

For forty-six years [now, fifty-three!], Cliff has carried the scrap of paper on which his “Yakima Peach” wrote her name and number the day they met, carefully laminated and readily available. To all who will listen, he recounts the story of their meeting and the marvelous gift God gave him when his sweet Annette said, “I do.” The voice of the tall, lanky, former dump-truck driver catches with emotion and his eyes grow misty when he speaks of his tiny bride.

I’ve lived surrounded by Cliff and Annette’s love. A love that goes beyond “to have” and embraces “to hold.” Each evening, as far back as I can remember, my father has held my mother in a blue velvet rocker. Sometimes they talk. Sometimes they pray. Sometimes they simply hold each other, whispering things without speaking a word.

Early on, my siblings and I loved to interrupt their kisses and caresses, eager for some of the affection so tangible in our home. Mom would laugh as Daddy reached down and picked us up, piling us one upon the other until we were a pyramid of little arms and legs all tangled up in their love. Then, we’d rock in the dusky hours of early evening. Laughing and telling stories. Loving and being loved.

I have been given a rich dowry of demonstrative love. I’ve received the gift of touch. The shelter of an embrace. I’ve witnessed the joy of a kiss. The strength found when two people meet, then turn to face whatever comes, hand in hand.

Some nights when it’s cold and dark and the fear of tomorrow claws at my throat, choking all hope, I reach for my husband. “Just hold me,” I beg. Something mysterious happens as I lie wrapped in his love – a transfer of strength. I can’t explain it. The words that come to mind seem too trivial on one hand, too mystical on the other.

I only know what it means to me. Secure in my husband’s love, surrounded by his prayers and safe in his arms, I surrender to sleep, knowing I’m not alone.

So much is lost when we settle for “to have” and miss the “to hold.”

– From With This Ring: Promises to Keep
(WaterBrook Press) 

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