I was conceived the night before my father left for Vietnam.
However, this is not my story; this is Richard and Inge's story. This is the loveliest love story I have ever known in my life. I am lucky to have been an eye witness to something that a lot of people think does not exist. I have seen it. I still see it each and every day of my life and it is beautiful.
My name used to be something that I was embarrassed of when I was young. It is different and pronounced a bit different. It is the German version of Monica and it is a part of their story. My father loved a song, a song he heard while with my mother in Germany about two young girls. When he found out about my impending arrival, he asked my mother to name me Geesela, the other name in the song, if I turned out to be a girl. My mother didn't like that name.
The day I was born, my mother had not heard from my dad in months. She thought he was dead. And here, into the world, I arrived in the midst of an aching heart. My mother wanted to honor my father and still give me that name, but she really couldn't stand it. Instead, she named me Monika. I imagine it was a very sad day, the thought that he may never know me, the torture of wondering if she would ever be with him again. I can't truly even understand such a devastating feeling that must have been for her to face. Yet, while my mother was in the hospital, a news reel came on the television-my father marched across the screen. She thought she had lost her mind, but an aunt called to confirm it was really him.
Is this the reason they are going on forty seven years of marriage?
I think so. I think my parent's learned very early on that everything can end in a moment. I think they never forgot that lesson at any time in their lives. And I think the average person forgets it so easily or never learns it at all.
My parents have known heartaches and tragedies. They have known great joy and happiness. They have known each other as we are supposed to know our mate. They have lived for better or worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer. They have known it and they continue to live it.
They put up with each other's differences and the things that drive them crazy about the other and they love each other anyway. They realize, I think, that they are blessed to have each other-warts and all.
I am blessed that I grew up in a household where there were parents who giggled in the night and parents who could sit quietly saying nothing. I remember when I was young, wondering how they were not bored to just sit quietly. I had not realized what closeness there is between people when there is no need for words. It isn't boring, it is a comfort and it is a connection of epic proportions.
I am watching my folks grow old together. What a joy to do so. What living proof that love is still alive and well in this jaded world. It is not that it can't exist-because it does. It is only that some of us have not found it yet and unfortunately, some of us never will. But there is hope. Truly there is.
Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad!
Monika M. Basile