Friday, December 22, 2006

A Wedding Anniversary

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.

10 comments:

patpb said...

this is sweet, Kit...it's wonderful to hear about your family history a bit. in the philosophy of It's a Wonderful Life, you were gifted by your parents and you have continued to share these gifts with all who cross your path! I hope you and yours have a lovely Christmas holiday and that 2007 brings many blessings your way!
Pat pb

LinguistFriend said...

That is indeed an idyllic story; one would guess that your mother's background would more probably have been Lutheran than Baptist, and that she adapted. CC teases me that in terms of my experience, I think that the Swedes are the best people in the world. (Of course, all I know are engineers, physicians, and related professionals, so it is a biased sample.)
LinguistFriend

ms. kitty said...

Thanks to both of you. Our life was not exactly idyllic, rather a bit rough financially, and yet we never lacked for anything important. In retrospect, all three of us are grateful that our parents, pre-modern as they were in their thinking, gave us permission and even encouragement to think for ourselves, to strike out in new directions, and to be all we could be.

Joel said...

They were married in 1935. Characteristically, the name is misspelled on the marriage record.

Joel said...

Woops! They're actually on there twice, once spelled right and once with a U.

Joel said...

Linguistfriend, there were actually a whole slew of Methodist ministers in the Ketcham family, for several generations before Merritt. In fact, he had at least two cousins named "Charles Wesley Ketcham" and at least one of them was a minister.

ms. kitty said...

Joel, thanks for adding information I didn't have. You know, back in my mind, I wanted to make sure that, if anyone ever googled either one of them, something would show up!

LinguistFriend said...

It seems that when the presssures of Christmas, New Year's (and some of the more immediate consequences of recent deaths) have quieted down, Joel and Miss Kitty have some sharing of material to do (if the electricity stays on and the creek doesn't flood). It often takes a long time to find out who our parents were, especially in more than a documentary sense.
In the meantime, good wishes especially to all of the human beings who choose to become part-time theologians, writers, musicians, orators, community organizers, psychotherapists, rite-of-passage performers, social workers, family therapists and marriage counselors, lifetime religious educators, fund-raisers, educational counselors, public-relations agents, cookie-makers, etc., all at once (that is the standard minister's assignment, is my impression, and Miss Kitty can extend the list, no doubt), as well as to the rest of us whom they serve.
Have a good Christmas.
LinguistFriend

LinguistFriend said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ms. kitty said...

For some reason, LF's comment was posted twice, so I have removed the extra one. I'm not censoring anything radical!