Barb Taub, over at barbtaub.com, wrote a lovely, humorous piece about how she and her husband of 40 years, met. It had me smiling as I remembered how my parents met. So, I promised her I would regal you with their story.
Whenever people ask about how my parents first met, I start by saying that my mother picked my father up in a bar. That usually gets everyone laughing. Including my mother. But things were only slightly different.
If you would first allow me to put their story into context. The year is 1945. World War II is over and servicemen are returning home from the war. Picture if you would an Avro Lancaster heavy bomber flying not very far over Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The young men inside were celebrating having won a World War so they thought that they would give the people of this downtown neighbourhood a bit of a thrill. They took their heavy bombers and flew low as if they were making a strafing run. (shooting bullets at people on the ground) The people in the offices got quite a thrill that day! Their next stop was to do the same run, on farmers’ fields. That didn’t go over quite as well. When they handed over their planes, they found fencing materials wrapped around the wheels. The commander was not well pleased. They were told later that the cows stopped giving milk for a week.
During that time there were canteens or coffee shops set up where returning military could get a cuppa coffee, a sandwich and perhaps a conversation with a pretty lady. In the evenings my mother was one of many women who was working as a hostess. It was a way to thank the service men for their service and welcome them back into civilian society. As my mother was making the rounds and chatting with everyone, she noticed someone that she recognized. She went over to the table with two young men in uniform, sat down, introduced herself and said to one of the young men “Are you Norm . . .?” He replied in the negative but the three of them struck up a conversation. ‘Norm’ asked my mother out on a date and she agreed. After a few dates they parted amicably.
Short time after that my mother was walking in downtown Winnipeg and ran into the second man she had met at the table. They had a long conversation that day and then they started to date. Another week goes by and the young man is greeted on the street by his brother who asks why he has not been home to see his mother since he is now back from the war. He didn’t tell my mother that part.
Many years later even more of the story unfolded. My father was regaling his family about his bomber run on downtown Winnipeg. It was at that point my mother stated that she was one of the people in the window watching his plane go by!
They were married for 58 years and were true partners. They completed each other. My mother was a social butterfly and my father was a wanna be hermit. But his job as a salesman succeeded in large part to his partner. In those days clients were entertained in a salesman’s home. Deals were made on golf courses. It was a much more intimately social time.
When my parents married, my mother admitted that she didn’t know how to cook. My father simply handed her a cookbook and said if you can read, you can cook. He bolstered her confidence when she didn’t believe in herself and she provided the social outlet that my father found so difficult. I read once that a good relationship is 60/40. Some days you would give 60% some days you would give 40% and a good partner would pick up the slack. That was my mom and dad. And those dinner parties my parents would throw for his clients? My mother’s cooking ended up being a highlight!
My father died 62 years after he met my mother. He always maintained that he was a better person with her. And she believed she was too. I grew up surrounded by love, laughter and common sense. My parents let me make my own mistakes and never judged. They were always nearby when I needed them and they gave the best hugs ever!
And one more interesting fact for those who believe in such things. My father was in the hospital for five days before he died. My mother was in bed for five days before she died, five years after my father did. I grew up in a family of five. Spooky? My parents would see the humour.
The image of the Lancaster is from istockphoto.com.