I once heard that the greatest gift you can give your children is two parents who love each other. Growing up, I had the idea that love was passion and having sex on the kitchen countertops; so I began to develop a perverse fascination as to whether my parents were getting it on. My little brother would tell me, “Eeeew. Stop with that! You’re so weird!” But to me, it was really important to know that my parents were madly in love.
New Year’s Eve was one of my favorite holidays because it was the one night I would see my dad passionately kiss my mom. My parents aren’t big drinkers, but on this night, they would each have a glass of wine. My little brother and I would sip on sparkling grape juice as we watched the countdown on TV. And, at the stroke of midnight, my dad would give my mom an open-mouthed kiss, a French kiss, as I would cheer them on. Although my parents always pecked each other on the lips and told each other “I love you,” I remember wondering why my dad didn’t kiss my mom like every day was New Year’s Eve.
Another time, when I was home from college and Christmas shopping with my dad, I came across a beautiful red nightgown, much more risqué than anything my mom would pick out for herself. I immediately told my dad to buy the nightie for my mom. He very sternly said, “Amy, she doesn’t like when I buy her clothes.” I said, “Dad, just trust me. Get her the nightgown.” Surprisingly, he listened. And when my mom opened the gift, her face lit up. I’m not sure if she ever actually wore the nightie, but it did make her very happy and added a little spice around the Christmas tree.
As I grew up, I became less concerned about my parents’ sex life, but I did come to appreciate my dad’s constant devotion to my mother. For instance, my mom recently had to have knee replacement surgery. While everyone was advising her to stay in the hospital as long as her insurance would allow, my mom confessed to me that she really just wanted to go home as soon as she could because my father takes much better care of her than any nurse. On the day of her operation, I called my dad to see how she was doing. My dad assured me that everything went smoothly and said she was in the recovery room. He sounded a bit anxious as he told me, “I can’t see her for two hours.” I said, “Aaaaaw Dad. It sounds like you miss her.” As if that was a really dumb thing for me to say, he snapped back and said, “Of course I miss her!”
When I called the next day to check in, I asked my dad, “How is your patient?” He said, “She is not my patient. She is my wife.” I giggled and had him put mom on the phone. The next time I called, my mom couldn’t talk because my dad was about to wash her hair. When we finally caught up, she told me, “Your dad really took his marriage vows seriously.”
When I write about my dad, I usually write about how gruff he is or how hard he was on me for some of the choices I’ve made; I realize that I don’t give him enough credit for being a devoted husband and father. For such a tough guy, he really does have a gentle side, especially when it comes to my mom. She truly is his everything.
As for me, I’m still that girl who believes you can’t have love without passion, but what I’ve learned from my parents is that true love is devotion…and of course, sex on the kitchen countertops♥