63 and 39 equals a lot of life and love

Jul 29, 2014

Pete and Nellie Martinez, 1951

63 years ago my parents were married at La Placita.  I now know that the more formal name is La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora la Reina de Los Angeles, but formality seems a bit pretentious when a place has been a part of the family for a long time.

My dad was born and spent his youth in the area; he likely was baptized at the La Placita around 1913.  In any case it was natural that he and my mom decided to wed at La Placita.  I’m not sure we had a Roman Catholic church in my part of town and I think St. Vibiana’s would have been beyond their financial reach.

They were married when they were 39 years old.  Neither had been married before and both had idealized visions of what married life would be like.  

They were children of immigrants and both had learned to walk the line of those who are first generation in a new country.  Their personalities and their surroundings had a clear impact on how they took that walk.  Dad was a street kid who eventually came to be disciplined about work and his home life.  He was the baby and loved to be spoiled.  Mom was the bright, bilingual older girl in the family where literacy was valued.  She loved to spoil my dad.  In that way they were a great match.

For nearly 50 years they loved, laughed, and verbally boxed with each other.  My mom had quite the sharp tongue.  You know the person who can make the quick retort that stings.  Dad had his charm and humor to diffuse a rough spot…or he would stormed out of the house to work outside.

But if you had talked to either of them about being separated, one from the other, a horrified look would have come on their filled their face.  She was his WIFE.  He was her HUSBAND.

They always, always, always remembered special days and gave each other cards.  I think my mom expected it and my dad loved that making that small gesture made him a little heroic.  I learned to follow suit and got in the habit of small acknowledgements on special days.

There was one time when I didn’t follow suit and recognize their anniversary on July 28th.

On the early afternoon of July 27, 1975 I gave birth to an 8 pound 4 ounce little girl.  The birth was Cesarean so I was physically present, but not very articulate.  I remember seeing the baby when the nurse showed her to me and next seeing her sometime during the night.  The time between was a blank.  It somehow didn’t exist.  Needless to say, my parent’s anniversary was not remembered.  Being awake and nursing, counting fingers and toes, and learning to deal with stitches was my focus.

Kate, age – about one 
I haven’t scanned any pictures that show Kate in her infancy.   She was a doll.  Perhaps that’s why my parents never mentioned my not remembering their anniversary.  Or perhaps it’s because she was a part of the dream that they shared back in 1951.  
Kate and I talked on her birthday.  It was not lost on us that she turned 39; the same age my parents were when they wed.   We both were a little more quiet when we spoke of this.  My folks would have loved that bit of recognition.  
Here’s to the loves in our lives – in some ways,  always present and always remembered.

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