Before Dad was Dad, he had a date. In Chicago. With Mom. They’d hardly met beforehand. Mom didn’t even know if she’d recognize him when he got off the plane in O’Hare. But they had a terrific weekend despite country boy and city girl differences.
One date. That’s all it took.
When Dad came home to Blue Springs, Missouri, he told his roommate, Jason, “I’m gonna marry this girl.”
Yeah, right. Jason tried to talk Dad out of it, to reason with him. Dad had known this girl for what? A month?
My parents met briefly the Friday of Labor Day weekend 1992. There was a little flirting, but nothing really happened until Mom left. She phoned her cousin Sara, Dad’s coworker.
Dad overheard. He said, “Tell your cousin if she comes back to Kansas City, I’ll take her on a date.”
Jokingly, Mom replied, “You tell him. If he comes to Chicago, I’ll take him out on one.”
Famous last words.
Cousin Sarah bought him a plane ticket. After a month of no contact whatsoever, Dad jetted to Chicago for their first date. After that, they wrote letters. They talked talked talked on the phone. Dad actually fell asleep once. They took turns flying out to see each other, and by Thanksgiving, Dad had put a ring on it.
Then Mom planned this great big wedding for the next December, but they simply couldn’t wait to be married. So, they went to a courthouse in May and tied the knot.
Now, Jason met a gal by the name of Heidi. They couple took their relationship slow and steady, and eventually got married. A few kids and an affair later, Jason signed divorce papers.
May 8, Michael and Michele Parks celebrated 22 years of marriage.
Dear person reading, my parents’ love story may seem crazy. Probably because it is. I mean, my uncle almost hogtied Mom to keep her from picking up my father, or as my uncle saw Dad: the potential serial killer. And if you’re my brother, Gabe, you might have even said, “No offense, Mom. But that was really stupid.”
Maybe not. These days I hear a lot about love. I like a lot of Facebook engagement announcements. I admire a lot of rings. I scan a lot of wedding Pinterest boards. Whatever. ‘Tis the season.
But once upon a time, my parents had their second wedding, the biggie, in December. The pictures look perfect. Except, the way Dad tells it, if the stressful December wedding had come first, there wouldn’t have been a wedding.
The thing is, culture conditions us to find true love and orchestrate a day to remember. Which is great. But in focusing on the day, sometimes it’s easy to overlook the life ahead. If you ask me, I’d rather have true loyalty and a marriage to go down in the books.
Maybe that’s just me.
You know, Dad never asked Grandpa for Mom’s hand in marriage. He didn’t get down on one knee to propose. Heck, he didn’t have a ring when he proposed. In fact, Dad didn’t even propose. He just told Mom she was the woman he was going to marry, and he said that before he said he loved her.
When Granny and Pa were in high school, Pa pulled the car over and popped the question. She said yes. And that was that. Nothing fancy.
As you can see, romance is not exactly a strong trait in the Parks DNA. Then again, as my parents celebrate their 22nd anniversary and Granny and Par are coming up on their 50th, well, it makes a girl feel warm and fuzzy inside.
I guess what I’m trying to say is the “L” word that matters most is loyalty. Anything else is just icing on the wedding cake.
What’s your favorite love story? And what do you take away from it?