Let’s step back in time and be a friend coming to my home after school. Our house is in a lovely neighborhood that’s rustic and woodsy. We will climb a long driveway. There is no landscaping around the house only dirt and scraggy grass. We built the house ourselves so it’s always a work in progress and I will tell you that as we walk. You will follow me through the disheveled garage full of plywood workbenches and old coffee cans loaded to the brim with rusty nails. Inside my parents are seated each on one of the love seats in the family room.

Let’s imagine its October and my Dad has a raging fire. I mean so hot you can barely stand the heat from the back of the room. My mom is leaned on her side with one arm over the armrest supporting her head and the other holding Time Magazine folded in half. She’s reading sections of it out loud to Dad as he moves to stoke the bonfire. It is a warm and cozy picture that could any minute erupt into an angry argument or it could stay warm and cozy.

That was the way of our home. My dad had a temper. Like a volcano it could erupt fast and hot. Much like a volcano their marriage was unpredictable, volatile. Divorce stalked the corners of every room in the house. The amazing thing about these parents of mine is that no matter the eruption they stuck it out. As their child I wanted them to stick it out. I wanted to come home with my friend and find these two under the same roof even if it meant I got singed by the lava from the eruption. When it all cooled I would pick up pieces of the cooled black lava and put them in my pocket. They were rough dark stones. When I look back now I realize that God pointed out the stones worthy of saving. Throughout my years I would take them out and look at them and their memories often brought me to tears.

Then I got married. It is the culmination of my experiences that make up me. My family life was messy and it felt hard but my parent’s determination, passion and diligence to find a way to love each other and work through their rocky relationship was the springboard to marry my husband and begin a new foundation as a new family. My marriage is not volatile like my folks. We have our messy days. Our union is a priceless jewel honed from pieces of that lava. Our children know parents who love and respect each other and are doubly blessed to know their Gamaw and Papa are together and they love each other.

Last year my parents celebrated 36 years together. They fought hard for those years and I continue to proudly sit as a front row member of the audience. They taught me how to love my husband.

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