There’s a popular television situation comedy that has spent the last nine years covering a man telling his children about his search for their mother some 20 years earlier. It’s a winding tale, of course, that covers false starts, unlikely coincidences, and (because it’s the 21st century) sexual misadventures.
I’ve spent the last 50 or so years hearing the story of how my father met my mother. It’s a story of unlikely coincidences and false starts and mercifully short on tales of sexual misadventures (because I don’t want to have to poke out my mind’s eye), but it’s a story that still hasn’t ended some 63 years later.
So kids, have a seat on the couch in the family room and listen up:
George was mustered out of the Navy after World War II ended and had only one goal: use the GI Bill to get his college degree. He didn’t know what he wanted to study, but that didn’t matter. He just knew he needed to study something, and he needed to do it at a school where he could get a job.
Patricia had just graduated from high school in St. Paul, and she had a goal: get out of town. She knew she wanted to be either a nurse or an artist, but her father had other ideas and sent her to his alma mater to study home economics and pledge a sorority.
Which is how they both wound up at Iowa State University.
George joined a fraternity so he could have a place to live and work, and the Phi Gamma Delta house needed someone to tend the furnace and do odd jobs. Ever the hard worker, he found more employment serving breakfast at the Delta Zeta sorority. His job there was simple: serve breakfast to the young women only during the appointed hours. No exceptions.
As he worked there every day, he noticed that one co-ed was having a singularly difficult time getting down for breakfast in time. He would be cleaning up and a little face would peer around the corner of the door, hungry and obviously hoping that there might be a bit of eggs and bacon left for a late riser. He would take pity and rustle up a plate for Patricia.
Two years later, they vowed to eat breakfast together for the rest of their lives.
Mom never did manage an early morning very well, and dad always did make breakfast, first for her (sometimes he had to make two plates, as morning sickness tended to catch up with her) and then for an ever-expanding family: that couch in the family room wound up having to hold five kids.
It’s been 63 years this past week, years filled with laughter and sorrow and worry and joy. As dad points out, that’s 63 birthdays and Valentine’s Days and anniversaries to figure out. But it’s easy for me: every day with mom and dad is another example of how love is patient, and love is kind. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
And love always, always, always makes breakfast.
• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Elizabeth Evans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.