Forty-five...and counting

“There ain’t nothin’ not affected
When two hearts get connected
All that is, will be, or ever was
Every single choice we make
Every breath we get to take
Is all because two people feel in love”
“Two People Fell In Love” — Brad Paisley

Brad Paisley co-wrote “Two People Fell In Love” with Kelley Lovelace and Tim Owens, and the song became the first single released off his album Part II in 2001. Paisley revealed that the song was based on the love story of Richard Harper and Kayleigh Harper.

The song peaked at No. 4 in the Billboard country charts and No. 51 in the Billboard Hot 100.

The lyrics discuss how so much in life can be traced back to two people who fell in love, then created a nurturing home, leading to generations of offspring who impact the world.

Last weekend, my family got to hold our own celebration like the one Paisley describes of the Wilson family in his song, where generations all get together to honor the commitment of the family’s patriarch and matriarch.

This coming Friday, my parents will celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary. Five years ago, we gathered together for a weekend together to celebrate their 40th, and planning has certainly already begun for the anticipated 50th anniversary celebration.

Coordinating the schedule of four adult sons, their significant others, 11 grandchildren, and a great-grandchild is a daunting task even if we were all living close to home.

With families spread across not just the state, but the entire country, the fact that everyone was able to be there to celebrate was an impressive feat of scheduling.

The diversity in life experiences that their four boys have chosen in their respective careers is as varying as the location in the country to build their lives. Yet, each has impacted his community in notable ways inside and outside of work life.

That’s a model that we were given growing up.

Working 40 hours was never something specifically modeled in our home, where the job is done and then fun begins. Dad would put us on the bus in the morning because Mom had taken off to work early, and life on the farm often meant that Mom was operating the household solo in the evening while Dad planted crops, baled hay, or harvested late into the night.

Often our only daily family time was on the tailgate of a pickup as we shared a meal in the field as a family.

Yet, while busy building the family farm and with a career in government, both Mom and Dad found time to give back to the community in various ways.

Boards for the church, township, school district, and representing fellow corn growers were all part of life, as was membership in the church choir, accompanying the church choir and playing piano for church services, along with playing piano for school choirs and music contest groups.

While politics were discussed in the household, the focus was where it should be to truly make an impact - local.

Dad served a number of years on the Wolsey School Board, even serving as President of the board as the Wolsey district began the work to merge with Wessington.

One of my high school classmates mentioned to me, after earning a superior-plus on our duet at contest, that we screwed up the song, relaying, “it’s a good thing your mom covered that up!”

Many days were taken off from work over the years by my mom to attend events; especially to offer her abilities on the keys to accompany choirs that her sons were part of as well as playing for solos, duets, and other groups in which her sons were participating.

No matter how busy the time on the farm or what was going on throughout the weekend, church was expected.

I came home from junior prom as my family left for church on Sunday, and I was informed that would not occur again. The next year, I had not yet slept, but I was in church and even sang in the choir the next morning after prom.

We had made an obligation. That meant we showed up, just like when their boys were part of sports or music or theater or FFA or other events, they always showed up, whether it was in the stands or volunteering time in the concession stand.

The life lessons for each of the four boys didn’t end when we “left the nest,” though.

When life happened as we were in the long process of adopting, my parents were there to be a sounding board and both encourage us and ground us in the process we had signed up for when we chose to adopt.

Certainly, others could have given the same advice, but their willingness to be available and speak frankly rather than simply shower us with “pretty” words was invaluable.

The weekend wasn’t a big destination getaway for the two of them. It wasn’t a trip to Disney with the grandchildren. It wasn’t an MLB ballgame or a NASCAR race or anything like that, to attend as a one-off.

No, as they’ve taught us throughout our lives, celebrating their own marriage was about faith and family. We were at a state park with plenty of activities for the grandchildren to do for entertainment, and meals were served at a central cabin so we could all spend time together late into the evening, simply talking as a family.

Typically, it’s parents who get to glow about their children and discuss how proud they are of them, but the lives impacted by the work directly done by Mom and Dad, not to mention the work of their four boys, their spouses, their grandchildren, grandchildren’s spouses, and now great-grandchildren as well are all part of the web of impact that a long-haired (believe it or not) farm boy and a beautiful choir girl began 45 years ago.

…and it’s still going strong.