My brother Dave, sister-in-law, Holly, and I looked out the window at my parents’ backyard. It was a sublime scene as candles glowed on the tables where family and friends were celebrating the 40th anniversary of Joe and Mae Kozlowski at a party also staged by my brother Phil, his wife, Helen, and my sister, Mary Jo.
It’s hard to believe that special occasion was 30 years ago. It’s even harder to comprehend that June 9, 2018, was the 70th anniversary of their wedding in a small ceremony in the rectory of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church on a Wednesday morning before the newlyweds drove to Alabama, where Dad was serving as best man for his World War II Navy Seabees buddy Russell “Abe” Lincoln.
By the time of their 45th, Dad was a patient in the Alzheimer’s unit at Lebanon VA Medical Center. He died in 1996. Mother passed away in 2009. It’s the paradox of the loss of those we love most — their deaths seem both an eternity and a moment ago.
If Mother and Dad had been around to celebrate their 70th this month, how would my siblings, our wives and families celebrated? We did try to express our love for them and all they did for us with parties and with gifts as we came to appreciate ever more all they had done for us.
But really, what could we have done to repay them for all the sacrifices they made for us, all the things that they went without, all the worry that we gave them, all the unconditional support they gave us, and all the deep faith in God that they shared with us by the way they lived their lives?
Parties and gifts would only be a small, partial payment of what we owe Mother and Dad. Our greatest gift would be to pass along their love for us, and for God, to our families. We could also express our gratitude to them in our gratitude to God for giving us such wonderful parents.
Faith’s legacy is love.