Thursday, September 02, 2004


Today is my father's 77th birthday and my parents' 54th anniversary. Dad is a smart man. He'll never forget his anniversary as long as he remembers his birthday.

There was a time when I couldn't imagine my father staying with my mother this long. But despite all appearances to the contrary they really love each other. My mother constantly says she doesn't love my father and that he doesn't love her, but it's a Shakespeare line: Methinks the lady doth protest too much. My mother is oftentimes full of sound and fury signifying nothing, but she does have a good heart even if she is easily distracted. She is ruthlessly possessive at times and completely loyal to those she loves, but she just cannot stand not having the last word. Her favorite trick is to hang up when a conversation or discussion is going her way on the phone and she doesn't apologize for it either. She may cool down later and call back asking if you're ready to listen, but she will still have the last word. It took more than half my life to figure out that sometimes it isn't necessary to win an argument or have the last word, especially with my mother. So I keep some of my opinions to myself, nod and smile, seemingly in agreement with her, but we both know the truth.

My father is the quiet type and scatters praise like a miser scattering coins to the masses. If he says anything at all it's, "It's nice" or "That's nice," and nothing else. I've learned to read between the lines. Dad came from a dirt poor family and his mother died when he was ten years old. His father liked booze a bit too much and when Grandma died went in with a couple of friends and ran a still. Well, the revenooers found the still and my grandfather on duty and he went to jail for two years rather than give up his buddies. There's a strong loyal streak on both sides of my family.

Dad is friendliness personified and if anyone wonders where I get my gregarious nature you don't have far to look. It's a Cornwell trait. We never met a stranger, just friends we haven't met. Dad, like most of the people in my family, true to their Cherokee heritage, is stoic and would rather go to work half dead than stay home in bed. He can cook, sew, and curl little girls' hair into ringlets and Shirley Temple curls. He has an artistic and generous soul and the most incredible open smile. He wasn't demonstrative when I was growing up, but I've broken him to the hug at last.

Mom's histrionic at times and Dad's quiet and prefers the path of least resistance to an argument. They are an odd couple, but they're both interesting and loving people. And they're my parents.

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