A week ago Saturday my mother and father celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary. It was a surprisingly warm and sunny November afternoon that I hope they’ll remember for a long time. I know I’ll never forget it. It was, by and large, a very happy day and things went very well. My mother told me that their wedding day was a Saturday as well, but it couldn’t have been more different. It was cold, dark, and rainy. My nieces were shocked to hear that there are no wedding pictures. Mom and dad didn’t have the money for that.

My sister made arrangements for us to have dinner at a fancy restaurant in town. She was great. Mom and dad each got a single white rose when my sister and brother-in-law came over that afternoon. They brought a bottle of Champaign so we could toast the occasion before all heading over to the restaurant. My sister, brother-in-law, their two children, myself, and my parents all raised a glass. It seemed a tremendously inadequate gesture as most people there wouldn’t have been born had they not married.

We met all three of my brother’s children at the restaurant, along with the girls’ fiancées. There, the twelve of us ate to far past full, and then pored over the desert menu to figure out the best way to top it all off. But the surprises weren’t done yet. My two nephews and I went down to my sister’s car. They each carried a dozen red roses, and I carried a goofy balloon bouquet. As we walked in the entrance, I locked eyes on my mom in particular because I wanted to see her reaction when she noticed us. Her eyes opened wide and I saw her mouth, “oh my god!” It was priceless. Mom and dad each got an arm-full of roses that, with the two white roses, totalled fifty … one for each year.

My sister’s really good at that kind of thing. My parents were very touched and so pleased to see us all there with them. It’s been a very long time since I’ve seen my mother cry from happiness. I love them both very dearly and wouldn’t have missed it for the world. A five-hour drive was a small price to pay.

You’ll note that I said the day was a very happy one, by and large. My brother decided he wanted nothing to do with the occasion. My sister suggested that since he was the oldest, he might want to do the planning. His answer was that he wasn’t going to be dictated to and wanted nothing to do with it. Of course I never believed he really wouldn’t show. Yea he has issues with my sister and me, but as I suggested, the day wasn’t about my sister, me, or him. It was about our parents. But what do I know? He didn’t come. Even without them having to say so, I could tell that my parents were both very hurt. He sent a gift with his daughter, but given the circumstances, I only saw it making things worse.

I really can’t believe that he has half a clue how much damage he did that day.

Regardless, I’m not going to end this on a sour note. We all had a great time. Since all the grandchildren were there, my oldest niece had the presence of mind to suggest that they should all get into a picture. Who knows when all the cousins will be together at the same time again? They’ve all grown into young men and women. It was the very next morning that my brother’s middle child brought Jena Marie into the world, starting the next generation of the family.