Today is the _______ anniversary of my parents' wedding. I've got the cat on my lap and can't get up to look through my boxes of memorabilia for the proper year. Maybe nephew Joel has it on the tip of his tongue and will provide it.
Even though my dad, Merritt B. Ketcham, died in 1970 and my mom, Mona Larson Ketcham, in 1994, my sister, brother, and I (and maybe others) remember that love story well and commemorate it in our hearts every year. Of course, my parents, when they were alive, commemorated it every month. Every 22nd of every month, they would say to each other "Happy Anniversary, Honey" and hug and kiss (gasp!) right in front of us kids!
She was a schoolteacher on the Oregon slope and he was a young cowboy turned orchardman in Payette, ID. They met through my dad's schoolteacher sister. My mother had been a genteelly-raised young girl in the Scandinavian community of Spokane; my dad had grown up in Missouri helping his dad run moonshine. His mother's fears for his life caused her to send him to Wyoming to work on a ranch at age 14, from whence comes our family boast "our dad was a cowboy in Wyoming". (It sort of authenticizes our other boast that we are distantly related to Black Jack Ketchum, a New Mexico gunfighter in the mid-1800s. All Ketchams are related, we think, regardless of the spelling.)
They met, they fell in love, and after their marriage, they went to Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, where both received education that would enable my dad to be a minister, a calling he felt strongly after a sister's healing. Of course, my mother was just as educated, just as capable, and she was the quintessential minister's wife, teaching Sunday School, singing in the choir, schmoozing with the Baptist ladies, a bright star in my family's crown.
They lost two babies before I was born, Jimmy and Charles, and they were scared they were going to lose me. But I survived and thrived, as did my younger sister and brother, Jean and Merritt (aka Buz). Our little family moved from Mossyrock WA to Portland OR, then out to Athena OR, and later to Goldendale WA, where my father died after about 30 years of ministry.
My mother was bereft but soldiered on, and we sent her anniversary cards every year on Dec. 22. And here we are again:
Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad. Thank you for a lesson in loving relationship that your kids have occasionally fumbled in our own lives but see bright and shining as the Christmas Star, a beacon of hope and faith.