The Kiss

Dedicated with love to my parents, Lee and Norma.

My father just turned 84 last week, and my mother will join him in that number in October. They were married on June 17, 1950, and in a week or so, they will celebrate 64 years of wedded bliss. Their union has yielded six children (of which I am number five), four grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. They have lived since a few years after their marriage in the house that my father and his family built by hand at the foot of the Shade Mountain, in the woods of beautiful central Pennsylvania.

We had the joy and privilege of visiting them on this day to help celebrate the June birthdays, Father's Day, and my parents' wedding anniversary. It was a warm and muggy day which built toward thunderstorms in the late afternoon. We enjoyed a cookout of hamburgers, hot dogs, and all of the assorted accompaniments, with perhaps the most exciting dish of all (to me, at least) being angel food cake topped with strawberries and vanilla ice cream. Nothing says summertime in Pennsylvania quite like a fresh, sweet, red strawberry.

Before the rains began, we accompanied my parents into the backyard to check out the peony bushes that bloom every year around their special day. My dad has been working with this particular bush to try to get it to flower more profusely. On this day, it had one full pink bloom and just a few small buds coming along. We positioned my parents behind the peony bush for photos, to document the occasion, and I hope my mom doesn't mind my posting their 64-year celebration kiss here on my own private corner of the Internet. They have been happily married all these years, and I like the way they still look at each other, like the sun and moon and stars revolve around each other. And as you can see, my dad still likes to give his little gal a smooch when nobody (or everybody!) is looking.  :-)

When my parents celebrated their 25-year anniversary in 1975, my oldest sister treated them to tickets to see Johnny Cash in concert. I was thinking on this day about people who clearly belong together, whose shared glances are electric, and whose love shines bright enough to light our way. Among those people are Johnny and June, of course. But my parents are right up there with them! And so the song I've chosen to help them celebrate this occasion is a Johnny Cash-June Carter favorite, Jackson. Well, we got married in a fever . . . hotter than a pepper sprout . . .

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