Sunday, December 11, 2011

An Argument I Won a Long Time Ago

This bunny is 19 years old. He sits on my Christmas tree and has every year since I have been married. My kids always ask me about him and I tell them it is my most special ornament. This year Fred wanted to know why it was my most precious ornament. I looked at him absolutely bewildered, but just for a moment before I realized that after all he is a guy and doesn't remember most of the important things he should. And so with the children gathered around I told them the story:

On the feast of the Immaculate Conception in 1992 Fred asked me to marry him. I agreed. We began making plans.  My Dad had died only a year or so earlier and my family was still adjusting to that loss. I know it was hardest on my Mom who had to navigate that grief in the midst of many of her children beginning the most important stages of their own life.  

On a day she must have been feeling particularly unsure of herself, she and I got into pretty much the only argument we have ever had. My Mom and I are very different ( and also strangely very similar) but one thing I can tell you is that we don't fight with each other. We just never have. Ever.We fight with other people, but not with each other. That is actually one of those things we have each mentioned over the years that we are always happy didn't exist in our relationship. Even if we felt strongly about some particular situation, we never fought over it. 

So that insecure day, my Mom decided to take me for a drive. And little did I realize the drive was really to have a talk. And the talk was really to coax me out of getting married. I never knew what gave her the sudden misgivings, but she went at Fred pretty hard that afternoon. I sat silently as she listed out her fears. Was I certain he was the right  for me?  Would he be a hard worker? Would he be able to provide for me? Would we ever have a house? Could we handle raising children?  To be certain, we were broke. Fred was talented but insecure, money wasn't a big concern for either of us ( and still isn't), we trusted far more than we planned. 

I sat silently as she went up one side of me and down the other. I didn't blink or shed one tear. And at the end of that very long speech she asked what I had to say for myself. To which I took a deep breath and replied in one single solitary sentence filled with pauses included only for emphasis:

 "Mom... if you are asking me to choose between you and Freddy... don't do it; you won't like my answer." 

And slowly she drove the car home and pulled into our driveway and without saying one further word I got out of the car and went up to my room and shut the door. 

And for the rest of that afternoon I sat in my room crying. I was in agony as I wrestled between two worlds one familiar and one unfamiliar. I reached for my bible several times asking God for a word, but none clearly came. And so I sat and the day grew dark, and evening rolled in. There was a knock on my bedroom door. I hadn't the strength to answer it, but it opened anyway. My mothers arm reached inside the room and dropped an envelope on my bed. On the outside of the envelope was the now infamous bunny, stuck to the top. Inside  was a card with a receipt for my wedding dress. No further words were ever exchanged between us on the subject.

But I saved the bunny. And every year that little bunny hangs on my Christmas tree as a reminder to me of the day I really left my Mother's care and became a woman, despite the fact that the wedding was still months off.

 Every year when I look at that bunny I find myself going over the questions she asked that day which had no answer yet for either of us. She looked ahead and in fear saw the darkness, and as I looked ahead in hope saw the light. My Mom and Fred really love each other and over the years her admiration for him has become most apparent.She considers him the hardest of workers, and most faithful of fathers, and a loving and good husband. She is so happy I found real love and the biggest compliment she knows how to pay any man is to compare him to my own Dad, which she always does for my Fred.

I am glad my Mom and I almost never fight. I am also glad that when we had our most important fight, I won. And in a way-though she didn't realize it at the time- she did too! 

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