3. Something you adore: old photographs of my mom and dad
January 3, 2012
My mom and dad have been married for 30 years. It’ll be 31 years this August.
They first met in 1976, three years after my dad had his accident.
I think to tell this story fully, you need the background information first. It’s the most amazing miracle I’ve ever heard and it’s the reason my sister and I are here today.
In 1973 my dad was in a life-threatening car accident. He was thrown from a jeep 4 days before Christmas and landed on his head. He was with his friend and was in the passenger side of the car, and he was not wearing a seatbelt (as most people didn’t in those days). They were coming home from getting a Christmas tree and were hit by another car in the middle of a snowstorm.
He was in a coma for 3 months and he barely survived.
I still get shaky every time I think about it. What it was like for his mom and dad, for his brothers, for his friends. They did not think he would survive, and even if he did, they thought the damage to his brain would be too great to recover from.
But he did survive.
He woke from the coma, a miracle in and of itself, but it was only the beginning of an incredibly long road to recovery.
He needed to re-learn everything. Everything. How to eat, how to walk, how to talk. The right side of his body was paralyzed from the impact of the fall. Slowly with the help of many others, my grandmother helped him get back on his feet. My Grandma Grace loved her son too much to let him slip away. In 1975 my grandmother went to the Institute for the Achievement of Human Potential in Philadelphia, PA to learn “patterning”. Patterning is a specific type of rehabilitation for people who’ve had a traumatic brain injury. She patterned him every day. And taught everyone around to help too. My dad was patterned twice a day by 4 or 5 people at a time. He did that program for a year and made so much progress that he was able to go to college.
Still even today, my dad walks with a limp and slurs his speech a little. But he’s the friendliest person alive and has the best outlook on life and the best laugh. I am forever grateful that he’s my dad. Forever and ever and ever.
It was on a weekend night (in a wheelchair) that my dad met my mom in a bar in Syracuse. He was still recovering from his accident, but had made tremendous gains. My dad was out with some friends. My mom was attending Syracuse University for graduate school and was at the bar that same night.
A few years later my dad saw my mom again at a wedding. Another year later, my mom asked my dad’s brother Dean about my dad and how he was doing. Dean told my dad afterwards and pressed him to ask her out. After another year (it took him awhile he says), when my dad was on a school break, he saw her again. Finally, he called and asked her out to dinner. He took her to the Old Stone Mill in Skaneateles. He had a “buy one, get one free” pass and told her they couldn’t get any drinks or dessert.
This makes me laugh harder than anything, because this is perfectly my dad.
He laughs so hard when he tells this part of the story.
He laughs so hard, everyone that’s listening starts laughing too.
Then he says, “Well, then I broke down and we had dessert. And she married me despite all that.”
I love my parents more than anything. I love how they fit so well together and how much they have given me and my sister. Each and every day I admire them and their goodness and grace.
We are so so very blessed to have them.
It’s a miracle, really.