Bill Brown and Georgina (Watson) Brown
November 18, 1952 Calgary, Alberta
Congratulations to my mom and dad on their 60th wedding anniversary. They have been a model of how to work things out over the years. Like all couples they have weathered many ups and downs through their years together.
The 1950's were the years of stay-at-home moms and large families. While we were a large family, my mom was always a working mom. One of the finest legacies she has left her family is the value of hard work. My dad was the same. I remember many years of my mom working a regular job while raising her family and dad often working an extra job alongside his military career. I was lucky enough to grow up in a household where all chores were shared, at least that's how it appeared to me. It was not unusual to find my dad in the kitchen making dinner if mom was working late or scrubbing the floors or toilets if that was what needed doing.
While we were military and moved often enough I have fond memories of our years in Edmonton. We had a large yard, both front and back. There were trees to climb and lawns to lay on. Our back yard was completely made into a garden. Vegetables on one side, potatoes on the other. My mom and dad froze and canned the large bounty from our garden every year.
Our home was a military home. We often heard, "because I said so" and had our regular chores. Mom and dad split the chores (perhaps not evenly but it appeared that way) so it always seemed strange to me that I got the inside chores and my brothers got the outside chores. Dishes and sweeping were mine (and later my sister's) and the garden weeding and lawn cutting belonged to my two brothers. I ironed dad's work shirts (still know how to do a long sleeve with no crease to this day) and my brothers polished his shoes.
I have a brother 1 year older and another brother 1 year younger and a sister 7 years younger so there were many years with just me and my brothers. I grew up a tom-boy and was always supported by my parents with the many sports I played growing up. For me it was fastball and swimming and for my brothers it was hockey. My parents attended everything in those days. My dad coached both ball and hockey and my mom was always there scorekeeping or doing whatever needed to be done. Our Rambler station wagon was filled with sports equipment year round. We honestly did live by the "be home when the streetlights went on" rule. We were outside kids and I imagine my parents were glad of it.
My parents had their own struggles through the years as all married couples do. What I learned from them was that even when things got hard you stand by each other. You don't give up, you work it out. Even if it takes time, you work it out. Their 60th anniversary is a testament of their commitment to each other.
There are moments in life that define us all and there are a couple of memories I have that define my parents for me. When my brother and I were in high school my mom quit her job and returned to complete her grade 12. She had ended her schooling in grade 10 and I think this must have always been on her mind. In the fall of 1970, my grade 11 year, my mom joined me and my brother on our daily trek to school. My first thoughts were that I wasn't too excited about my mom going to school with me. However, our high school was large and I rarely saw her aside from the drive in and the drive home. Every time I think about this though I am amazed at the courage and strength it must have taken her to give up her pay cheque and go to public school with her two children. I believe I had some appreciation of it at the time but I do know that I have more appreciation as time passes. My mom is a very intelligent woman and I don't believe she needed to prove anything to anyone other than herself. She has always been determined. I believe I inherited this quality from my mom.
For my dad, it's less about one event and more about the way he has lived his life in general. My dad has never been afraid to take on some new experience. When he bought the boat with the hole in it we all learned to fiberglass. When the 1957 Hillman I drove kept losing the clutch, we learned how to change it. When we moved to Comox he learned to navigate the tides and the buoys coming in and out of the bay. When peacekeepers were needed he signed up. He sings loudly, off-key and often. I remember him lying on the couch laughing his head off at that crazy Wiley Coyote. My dad knows how to laugh and faces life head on. I think I have inherited some of these qualities.
We are not a family that communicates well or often but when I think of my parents I think of what a successful life they have made for themselves. They married at 18, had 3 children in the next 3 years and another 6 years later. My dad's career in the Armed Forces has taken them all over the world. They weathered two housefires early in their marriage where they lost all of their belongings. They have faced hard times and good times and have come through it all together. They taught us to work hard and be respectful and we have done both. They taught me to love sport, to get involved, to speak my mind openly and honestly and to put my everything into everything I do. I believe that I have lived my life the way they had always hoped I would.
Happy 60th Anniversary Mom and Dad! I hope your day is filled with wonderful memories and wonderful plans for the future.