Yesterday, the 30th of August, would have been my parents’ 54th wedding anniversary. We celebrated their 50th anniversary as a family – my sister, my niece, my uncle Bruce (Dad’s youngest brother) and Mum and Dad – at Bushwillow, a small private game lodge in Natal, South Africa. A happy time, intimate and full of the joy and warmth that comes with being in the company of people one loves.
I am single, in my late forties, and I won’t ever know what it takes to be married to someone for fifty years. I do know though, that my parents’ marriage is something I have always admired. They were devoted to each other and were a real partnership. The secret of their success and longevity as a couple, I believe, was that they had no secrets from each other. Their problems were each other’s problems. Financial worries on the farm – there was no pulling the wool over Mum’s eyes – she knew every intimate detail of the farm’s workings as she managed the farm books for Dad and, having run the farm single-handed during the Rhodesian war years, on and off, she had plenty of her own ideas on how to improve things.
Mum’s direct, sometimes domineering way was a perfect complement to Dad’s quiet reflective nature. And sometimes, it’s true that the difference in their temperaments could make for an uncomfortable atmosphere around the home. But, the foundations of their unassailable love and respect for each other were strong and deep and always overcame any temporary disagreement or difference of opinion that they might have had.
Now, with both of them gone, I realise the legacy they have left. It’s a legacy that no-one could ever put a price on. Their love for each other, for me, my sister, her husband and her children and the family that we were together, is something that does not die. The legacy of lasting love lives on – it lives on in our memories and hearts, and it lives on in how we live our lives.