Saturday, May 14, 2016
Once upon a time a poor young man left his village for the big city, where he worked long days in a sweatshop and sent his savings back to feed his family. He followed better opportunities by immigrating to another country and took every job he could: as a cook, a tailor, a carpenter, and a shopkeeper. He eventually saved enough to bring his parents to live with him, and to help his sister raise her children back home.
But before he was reunited with his parents, this young man had a roommate who gambled so much he became mired in debt. The roommate asked his young friend to help him get back on track: our young man was given every paycheck from the roommate's boss, and slowly paid off the gambling debts in addition to the regular bills. In gratitude, the roommate showed our young man a picture: "This is my younger sister. You should marry her."
And a couple of years later, after the young man had saved enough money for a passport, a visa, a plane ticket, and a marriage license, the roommate's sister stepped off that airplane into a strange country, and met the young man for the first time. His first words to her? "You're much skinnier than in your pictures!" They went directly to city hall, and that's how my parents met each other and got married.
My father passed away nearly 25 years ago. My mother is patiently biding her time; her faith tells her they will be reunited one day. In the meantime, she shares sweet memories with me during our phone calls. My favorite? When biology called in the middle of the night, my father would carry my mother to the outhouse, wait patiently outside, and then carry her back to bed. This simple story reveals an unexpected romance in my parents' marriage. Both of my parents had early lives filled with struggle, but their struggles together were eased with love. And, this story also breaks my heart a bit because her re-telling me this story more than half a century later also tells me how much my Mom has been missing my Dad for all these years.