My parents plant a kiss on each cheek of their granddaughter during their anniversary party in Topeka, Kan.
I had the honor of toasting my parents and their remarkable love story at a celebration of their 50th anniversary on Valentine's Day. Here's what I said, more or less, during a night filled with tears, hugs and joy:
My parents met when Dad was conducting an audit of Blue Cross Blue Shield. There, he saw a lovely, young woman working as a secretary in the accounting department. They talked during work breaks and felt a mutual attraction.
However, Dad was recently divorced with three young children to raise. He was emotionally drained and had given up on the idea that he'd ever find love again or any woman who would want to take on three children. Dead broke, he was focused on figuring out how to provide for his children.
To complicate matters even further, Mom was engaged to another man she had been dating since high school. Dad knew this and assumed he had no chance with her.
But Mom had other ideas. She realized she had met the man of her dreams and would die if she didn't spend the rest of her life with him. Much to my surprise when I heard the story in more detail this Christmas, Mom made the first move. She called Dad to suggest their first date.
They went dancing on that first date, and they've been dancing through life together ever since.
Their love story has inspired all of us close to them. They've shown us the power of resilience, the power of family and the power of love.
Please join me in raising a glass to two people still madly in love after half a century together.
Advocate artist Julie Zavala drew this portrait of my parents using Prismacolor pencils on Canson Mi Tientes paper. She used a little oil pastels here and there to boost the color. She drew the moon in the background because it felt right. Little did she know, the first song my parents danced to was "Moon River."
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