In 1973, fifty years ago now, my parents, who inspired me to begin this project, were married. Raised in the valley below, my mother faced some changes when she married my coffee farmer father, and moved up to Hato Viejo. In the early years of their marriage, my mother adapted to a landscape that could only be traversed by horse or donkey- nothing motorized could navigate those paths- and spent nine years living and raising children on the mountain.
There was not a lot of formal education in those years before we moved back down to the valley for school- it wasn’t what my parents had to offer, but the education they did give us was less common. We were actively taught faith. We were taught to never talk about others- to never discuss any business except our own. We were taught to be honest, to take only what we were given, and that nothing- not a school project, not illness, nothing- was impossible with God.
My mother was always calm. With every challenge God put before her, she prayed, she sang, and calmly told us that everything would be fine. No matter what it was, she would say, “Don’t worry, you’ll get to go,” or “God gives the sickness, and God gives the cure.” I am a true believer, but I don’t have quite her level of calm patience. She taught us that with faith, miracles were there for the asking- just be ready to receive what comes.
My father is a man of few words. He, as he was taught by his mother, believed in hard work, and he lived that belief by working ceaselessly to provide for us. Some years were better than others- a farmer is at the mercy of the weather after all, and as it was in life, it was in marriage. No two days are ever the same. My parents have gotten so far- raised so many children, and had a good life because they complement each other, and they will truly only be separated by death.
I had been thinking about this upcoming anniversary for a while.
With my older sister back home, we planned. We obviously weren’t there for the wedding, and my parents never had a honeymoon, so we wanted this to be special- and because my mother didn’t want a big fiesta, it had to be small. I have a brother in New Jersey, and a sister in New York, who decided that they had to be there, and surprised us by arriving the big day. There aren’t many opportunities for such special days with the family now separated by thousands of miles, and they couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
50 years of marriage is a big deal, and I love to plan events, but until we got closer to the date, I still imagined it would just be me- not the whole family- that got on the plane in New Hampshire to fly south. It was a big deal, though, so in the end, it was not just me, but all of us.
To be continue…