Sunday, May 12, 2013

May 12

You gather important dates all your life. Starts with your birthday. Everybody has one. Ends with the date of your death, inevitably; but that one won’t be stored as a memory like the others.

November 22, 1963. That is one I remember, but I don’t remember many other dates when people died. There are other dates that become important during your life, and they accumulate.

Birthdays of your kids, the day you got married. The day you had heart surgery. Things stick with you, and then there is the human custom of anniversaries, when you reaffirm that important date every year. Pretty soon you have as many holidays as a South American country.

May 12, 2013 is Mother’s Day. On May 12, 1934, my parents were married. A few years ago, I received a clipping in the mail from a woman I had known slightly when we were children that memorialized the event—right there in the paper! The Columbus Telegram, no less! It didn’t mention some of the really significant things, like that it was over 100 degrees that day, or that it would stay hot and the corn would burn up before it reached knee height. It didn’t mention that it was the worst of the Great Depression. Or that the date was chosen because of the cycle of farming, of corn. You planted corn by the 10th of May. That was the rule.

My mother, a high school graduate, was a teacher in the one-room country school like I went to for nine years. School was out, complete, the final picnic done before the corn planting date. It was a rule.

So the date for the wedding had a lot to do with the cycle of the seasons, the cycle of farming, the basic cycle of life. As it turns out, I owe my very existence (and so do you) to those cycles.

The clipping from the paper had the fact that there were flowers, the cousin who was a preacher that performed the ceremony and the list of witnesses, and the clipping came from the daughter of the young woman who was my mother’s maid of honor. From the description and what I have heard, the cost of the wedding was minimal, not like the cost of weddings that try to live up to what the brides see on the reality shows today. According to Cost of, the average cost for Americans is now $25,656—not including the honeymoon. My parents went to Onawa, Iowa overnight. But the marriage lasted for over 55 years, “until death do us part.”

There has always been a “right-ness” about that date for me, now in the distant past, nearly 80 years ago. Birthdays are random, but that date was like my parents; not whimsical, completely practical, closely associated with the land and the seasons. Right and proper.

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