My wife and I met in college. We both attended a large state university in the Southeast and began dating in the Spring of my freshman year. She was a junior. Before long, it was time to make the four hour trek across the state to meet her family.
I was given a pretty good rundown on everyone in the family that I was to meet. So despite being a little nervous, I was looking forward to it. I knew it would be a cultural experience, too, as her folks lived in a rural area. Their town was very sparsely populated. This was the deep South, too. I enjoy those kinds of cultural adventures.
Suffice to say, her folks were awesome to me. They were very welcoming to this boy from the Northeast suburbs who was dating their youngest daughter. Her mom was warm and loving from the get-go. Her dad, despite having an impressive gun collection hanging on the living room wall, seemed to be comfortable with me off the bat, too. And from there our relationship just grew, and I enjoyed developing the close bond with her family.
Now, her dad was a musician in his younger years. He played in country/western bands throughout the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. And me being a guitar player helped us to speak a similar language of sorts I guess. I loved hanging out with her mom. We often would play cards together on those trips to her parents’ house. I remember one particular time when I caught a flu bug while we stayed at their house. I was supposed to be back at school the next day, but I was vomiting so much and had a fever…there was no way. Her mom took care of me like she were my mom. I’ll never forget it.
We eventually got married in her parents’ home town. The ceremony was held at a very small Baptist chapel, even though most of my family are Catholic. It didn’t matter to anyone. Everyone that attended had a blast meeting my new in-laws.
My wife and I eventually had to move away from that state for work, and so we saw her folks only once a year, tops, on Summer visits and such. Everytime we got together, though, it was like no time had passed. They were so easy to get along with and they knew how to have fun.
My wife’s father passed away about six years ago. Her mother has alzheimer’s disease with severe dimentia, and she resides in a specialty nursing home in the city where we now live. My wife goes to see her mom as often as she can. I have been to see her a handful of times. She is a ghost of the person she used to be. It’s difficult to see her. She was a gorgeous, statuesque woman full of life. Now she is hunched over in a wheelchair, has cataracts, and mumbles once in awhile. She recognizes nobody from her past. My wife’s dad is buried at a military cemetary near us as well, so we can once in awhile go visit his gravesite.
They were awesome people from a different part of the country from where I grew up. I feel like I’m a better person for having had the fortune to meet them. They were both truly unique and fun individuals. I really miss them.