After a 20-year hiatus, my parents are getting remarried.
They first married while still enrolled in high school in Corpus Christi, Texas. Back then, if you kept a girl out past midnight, you had to marry her, since by that time she had likely been defiled. As they sat talking in a ’57 Chevy, the clock struck 12:01am, so they decided they’d better get married. The next morning was Valentine’s Day 1965—and they reported to homeroom as Mr. and Mrs. Edward Perez.
I should probably mention that the reason my mom went out with my dad in the first place is he had told her he was dying and she felt bad for him, so she met him at the neighborhood park to fulfill his “last request” for a date. Of course he was lying. It only took a few years before she realized that she was only destined to become his golf widow.
They had three kids, each of us seven years apart and close.
Things began to fall apart during my junior high years and, when I was a sophomore in high school, my mom moved out of the house and their 24-year marriage ended. The split was hard on my sister, who was 8 years old at the time and even harder on my older brother, who was 22. I was 15 and stayed with my dad while my sister left with my mom. Painful stuff. So let’s fast forward!
In 2001, my parents became grandparents to my twin boys. Over the years, they each had been in other relationships, but had always remained friendly. After their grandkids came along, they began sharing numerous road trips from Houston to Santa Fe. That’s a solid 16 hours or more in a car with an ex-spouse, talking, laughing and reminiscing. I guess it was only a matter of time before they talked each other into putting their family unit back together. It happened in July 2008, after the boys celebrated their 7th birthday. By late August, they announced that not only were they dating, they had moved in together. My kids asked: “Is Nana pregnant?”
Like most girls with shiny new boyfriends, my mom, who I used to hear from daily, doesn’t call me quite so frequently. I’ve saved one of her voice mails in which in the middle of leaving the message, my dad says something that has her laughing so hard she just hangs up without finishing. She’s turned into a giggling teenager who laughs at all his jokes and still pouts when he disappears for happy hour. They’ve started over with a beautiful new house, car, furniture and an empty nest.
Last summer, my dad suffered from a series of strokes. Because he’s always monitored his high blood pressure and knows the symptoms for stroke, he sought medical attention right away. After some scary weeks during which we watched and waited for improvement, he slowly bounced back. I’m not sure how things would have turned out had my mom not been there to nurse him back to health, but it only took two months before he was back at work and playing golf. He’s now fully recovered.
All of this made our most recent Thanksgiving extra special. As we sat together at a massive dinner table, everyone joked around just like old times. I remembered some mom-less dinners over the years: like when my dad ordered a super-disgusting heat-and-eat turkey dinner from the grocery store; or the time that he battered and deep-fried our entire dinner, including corn on the cob and shrimp. We refer to that as Shrimpsgiving ’89. We were thankful that he made the effort, but this year we were even more thankful that my mom was back in charge, roasting a picture-perfect turkey while my dad did what he does best: carved it up.
Starting over also has meant starting new traditions. The grandkids sat on either side of my dad, and my brother taught them the same family blessing that he used to recite when we were kids. My sister and I drank margaritas. After dinner, we took a family trip to the driving range and then went back home for a round of flip cup.
The Perez Otra Vez! Wedding is set for March 12, 2010. My sister and I will be both flower girls and bridesmaids, my brother will give away the bride and my boys will be ring bearers.
I always wanted my mom to find the perfect guy, someone who would love and respect her—she’s a beautiful, funny and amazing woman. And I always worried that my dad wouldn’t find his match, someone who understands his quirky sense of humor and his love of Star Trek, and forgives his ability to destroy a kitchen while making an egg sandwich.
But there they still are for each other, just older, wiser and ready to report to homeroom again as Mr. and Mrs. Edward Perez.