Today is my 12th Wedding Anniversary to Raylan - our 13th Anniversary as a Blended Family. Unlike a lot of second marriages we chose to celebrate our marriage in a fashion that mirrored one of a first marriage rather than a second or third. Our thought was - it was a celebration of our love so why should we feel ashamed that we had to travel through a number of obstacles to get here! If anything those obstacles have made our love even sweeter.
Raylan and I are celebrating our anniversary this year in Calgary, Alberta, Canada with my sister-in-law and her extended family. Calgary and our family here hold a special place in our heart - this was where we got engaged. This past week we have been reminiscing about memories we've shared these past twelve years. One of my favorite memories was when we meet my nephew Frank, my niece and their family in Italy four years ago. Our kids are close in age and share similar interests so it was a perfect fit.
Frank was born and raised in a small village in Italy, but moved to Calgary when he was a teenager. Every few years he returns home with his own family to visit his hometown. We were extremely honored when Frank invited our family to join his on the visit four years ago.
The small town is a flashback to an earlier, simplier time. While there are cars on the road they are few and far between. Most people walk everywhere. The nightly past time is to take a walk down a oversized sidewalk that runs through the middle of town. Young kids walk up and down the street, like kids drag a street with their cars in other places.
Older couples sit in benches lining the walk ways - watching the kids walk back and forth - laughing and talking - as if soaking up every moment. All the while the couples sit close together, holding hands and their love is contagious.
Prior to our arrival, Frank's Mother had passed away, leaving his 87 year old Father alone. Frank's parents had been married for close to 60 years, raised 8 children - family meant the world to them. I vividly remember meeting Frank's Dad for the first time - he embraced me and called us all "his" family!
The father lived alone in the home he had shared with his wife for their entire marriage. It was a quaint - modest home much like the man we met that day. Frank's Dad and other family members invited us to join them for dinner that evening. Family members removed all of the furniture from the living room of the family house, the size of most spare bedrooms. Frank's brother built a custom table to accommodate our combined family of 24. One of the most amazing experiences of my life!!
Pictures of Frank's Mom and Dad hung on the walls reminding us of the love that brought us all together. Frank recalled after we left that evening helping his Dad to bed as he clutched a picture of his deceased Wife next to his heart. He fell asleep like he had every night since her passing - embracing her picture - pressed next to his heart.
As the days and weeks passed following his wife's death - his health rapidly deteriorated. The doctors proclaimed there was nothing physically wrong with him. Frank's Dad would pass away not long after his Mom passed, weeks after we shared a meal. The official cause of death was natural causes. The unofficial cause of death - dead of a broken heart.
A perfect story that inspires my own. Our love story is far from perfect. We met way too late in life. Given how old we where when we met - our age difference - we won't come close to spending sixty years together. Still I know, that although a little late - very complicated by circumstances - I found a love to last a lifetime!