Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Wedding Day

University Place Christian Church
Enid, Okla., 12 Oct. 1939
My grandmother Alma Osborn is at the far left;
my maternal grandfather, the Rev. G. Edwin Osborn,
 performed the ceremony and stands behind my mother, to her right;
my uncle Ronald Osborn, stands beside my father

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
This was much different from their fiftieth anniversary in 1989, when both of them were in pretty good health, and we had a big dinner at a local inn in the Berkshires somewhere with much laughter and old stories (many reflecting ill on me). In 1999, Mom and Dad sat at the ends of a long table (memories of Citizen Kane?), and Dad was able to offer only little in the way of conversation. But he enjoyed the little gifts--and the toasts we proposed.  In my journal I recorded a bit about it ...

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
Rev. G. Edwin Osborn taught at the Bible College (see postcard below) and served as minister at the church (all three Dyer sons were baptized there).  Dad was six years older than Mom, had arrived in Enid from Oregon, where he'd grown up.  They met, fell in love, married, and off they went on an adventure that included Dad's time abroad in WW II, their three sons (1941, 1944, 1948), his recall into the service during Korea (and consequent role as Chaplain at Amarillo Air Force base, Amarillo, Tex., in the early 1950s), his decision to pursue a Ph.D. at the University of Oklahoma (he did it),  their move to Hiram, Ohio, where Dad taught for ten years at Hiram College (1956-1966) and Mom at James A. Garfield HS in Garrettsville (English ... surprised?), Mom's decision to pursue a Ph.D. at the Univ. of Pittsburgh (she did it!), their decision to move to Des Moines, Iowa, where they would both teach until their retirements in the late 1970s, their happy years in Oregon, their decision, when Dad began his decline, to move to Pittsfield, Mass., where they would be much closer to two of their sons (not this one), the decision to move into Melbourne Place, where we would celebrate anniversary number 60.

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.

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