It is kind of tradition for me to call my mom every Friday night. Many times she is home alone because my dad is at work, and she gets lonely when he is not there. So a phone calls helps break up the time of being alone. Occasionally I get to talk to my dad because his rotating work week has adjusted and he is home.
They are a really cute couple. It feels a little bit odd calling them a couple. But that is exactly what they are. Yet, they are not like today’s couples. A man may enjoy a woman’s company and they may be married or maybe not. It may be a long-term relationship, or a chance meeting. That is today’s couples.
Even if they are married or in a long-term relationship, they still have their own independent lives. Today’s couples have to juggle two careers. The man has his job. The woman also has her career. When it comes to friends the man has his buddies, and the woman has her girl friends. Sometimes they have other couple acquaintances that they interact together with. A dinner out at a favorite restaurant that has an environment for sharing stories and having some laughs. That is today’s couples.
Occasionally the man and the woman participate together in a leisure activity. A bike ride. An afternoon of shopping. Dinner, a movie, or an outing. But they both have their own individual activities. Watching football with the buddies, for the man. A girl’s night out for the woman.
Financially today’s couples each have their own money. Even if they married, the woman has her bank account and the man has his. They split their bills. He pays the mortgage. She pays for the utility bills and groceries. This is today’s couples.
It is as if they live two lives and every once in a while when it is convenient their paths will cross. It all depends on each other’s schedule. It also may depend on their children’s schedule which can become really hectic. Dropping off and picking up kids needs to be synchronized between both parents.
The life of couples is all dependent on how much they let their single lives go and instead become a true couple. That is today’s couples.
Now my parents are from a whole different world. They have been married for almost 53 years. Originally they were dairy farmers. They worked hard and barely made it from one month to the next. Getting the month’s milk check was full of anticipation, because they never knew when the market was going to be good to them.
Looking back we were really poor. I mean really poor. The odd thing is at the time I didn’t know it. I never heard my parents talk about money. As kids we really had everything we needed. We always had new school clothes. We had our bikes, and even had a small room in the house called “the toy room.”
We were a very tight family. We worked together and we had fun together. In the earlier days we worked on the farm with my grandparents and one of my uncles. My mother became a farm woman and I a farm girl. It was her job to keep the house in order, and meals made. She also took care of the chickens and the calves.
Entertainment was very simple. A family picnic was always a highlight in the summer. When I say a family picnic I mean a bIG FAMILY picnic. When I was born, between great grandparents and grandparents, I had six grandparents alive who all had big families. My father was one of seven boys and three girls. My mother was one of four girls and two brothers. You can probably imagine how many cousins I had. So our picnics were a big affair.
In the winter entertainment was a little simpler. A game of cards. Usually Euchre or Five-Hundred. And cards usually went along with a beer, some times home-brew, or some of my dad’s homemade wine.
Holidays were always a special time with the family. They were always mixed with church, a church program put on by the kids of the congregation, a great meal, and for Christmas, presents surrounding the Christmas tree.
For every holiday my Mom saved and saved her money. Though she was in charge of all the finances on the farm, she was able to save money to give my sister and I the best Christmas ever. The money came from selling eggs, or she made a little money being the township treasurer. Once in a while in the fall she would take a seasonal job of sorting cranberries. She only did this if she had someone to ride with to work.
You see my mom did not have her driver’s license. She was married at the age of sixteen and had a baby. Me. After getting married, it wasn’t really necessary to be able to drive. The farm was our life. From the day I was born until the day I graduated from college we only had two cars. A Corvaire and a Nova. We always had a truck because it was practical, especially on a farm. We lived a little over 20 miles from a small town. Other than going to school there, we didn’t venture there much. If we did go to town, it was usually for some special occasion, or right before school started to get school clothes and school supplies.
Life was simple. When I was a teenager it was always a big decision to either go out with friends from school or stay home with the family. Staying home usually won out. Even when I went to college, my parents came and picked me up on the weekends. Over four years in under graduate school and two years of post-graduate school, I bet I can count on one hand how many weekends I didn’t go home.
As I said earlier my parents are a cute couple. They are no longer on the farm, but Dad still has a few chickens and a garden. He would like more animals but mom won’t let him. You can leave the farm, but you can’t take the farmer out of him. That is who he was, and who he will be the day he says goodbye to this life.
The two of them have grown old together. Dad, though he is 77 years old still works. He has a job at a local Hochunk casino. And mom still takes care of the home. Both of them have health problems and they take care of each other. Mom always reminds dad to take his insulin. And dad aways carries the groceries in for mom because she has bad knees. It is funny watching the two of them. Dad is kind of gruff and complains mom doesn’t give him any money. She is still taking care of the finances. The complaining is all in fun. You can tell they love each other, more importantly they live for each other. I can’t imagine when the day comes and one of them is gone.
This year Mom announced a big surprise for Dad. Over the last 10 years times have been hard, but we survived. They left the farm, and I bought them a small piece of land where they live. Over the last 15 years I bought them 2 new cars. Dad continues to work to pay for their groceries, utilities, maintaining the care and medical bills. For the last year or so Dad has been wanting a new car. With the economy and other health related issues I am dealing with I could not afford to get him a car. In fact I could not afford to get myself a car.
So this Christmas Mom tells Dad that she has the money for the car. For the last ten years, since she started getting social security, she never spent it. She has been cashing the checks and putting the money in a safe deposit box. Mom was always very thrifty and a good saver. Now instead of egg money, she had saved her social security money, which weren’t that big because while on the farm they had only paid the minimum into social security. I am not talking a little money. She saved $20,000. Unbelievable. And now dad is grinning from ear to ear. Mom was buying him a new car.
You can tell that they love making each other happy. Their relationship is true love. They are an example of a couple from a time that has long passed.
Their relationship has nothing similar to today’s couples. The love they have for each other is from a generation of long ago.