My parents celebrated their sixtieth wedding anniversary on 12 October 1999. On Sunday, the 10th, my two brothers and I--along with Steve and Melissa--celebrated the event with a little dinner in Melbourne Place, the Assisted Living place near Pittsfield, MA, where my parents were living. It was a facility my dad needed, and my mother didn't--and they had separate apartments. Dad, who had experienced the decline from cane to walker to wheel chair, now had a motorized chair whose operations he hadn't exactly mastered. (There may still be scars on the Melbourne walls to commemorate his collisions--and more than once he ran over a fellow resident's foot, or banged into a dining room chair.)
|Melbourne Place, Pittsfield, MA|
Dave [my younger brother] said he’d recently interviewed a 100-year-old man, and when he asked him the secret of a happy life, he’d replied, “Choose good parents.” Then I managed a short one, something like this: “When I became a parent myself and did not know what on earth to do, I just tried to remember what you had done with me.” That’s as far as I got before I dissolved. Steve then said the best times in his life have been with family, and he thanked them for that.
The next day, I had a quick visit with Dad, and he told me he was sad he hadn't been able to see the video of Steve and Melissa's wedding (just two months earlier), at which we'd played a recording of Dad's singing "The Lord's Prayer," recorded years earlier in an Enid studio. Dad had a wonderful tenor voice. I drove back to Ohio, about 560 miles, regretting that oversight, thinking ...
Mom and Dad were married in 1939 at University Place Christian Church in Enid, Okla. right on the edge of the campus of Phillips University (now defunct), which my parents had attended, where my grandfather, the
|Rev. G. Edwin Osborn,|
my grandfather, who
died in 1965
|University Place Christian Church|
My drive back to Ohio was pretty much uneventful, I said in my journal, except, I wrote, "for a lovely flock of pheasants I saw along I-80 in Penn. Half a dozen of them or so." Dad, earlier, had sometimes hunted pheasants (and other birds); later, he just enjoyed looking at them, listening.
When I got home, there were two voice-mail messages from brother Dave, who was weeping. Dad had declined sharply in the previous hours, was in the hospital, was not expected to make it.
But he rallied. And I drove out a couple of other times to see him in the final six weeks of his life. Six weeks. The fragment of his life remaining after his sixtieth wedding anniversary. He died on Nov. 30; he was 86.
As I write this, my two brothers are with Mom, 94, in Massachusetts. She was in the hospital herself this week--a scare (I was certain, Thursday night, that the end was near). But she rallied. Is home. And with my brothers today. They should be calling soon. And I'll wish my mom a happy seventy-fourth anniversary. And wish for all the world that she could pass the phone to my dad so I could tell him, too.