June 8, 1940.
Seventy-four years have passed since the day Max and Katherine Phillips exchanged wedding vows. In 1997, she slipped away into eternity. He followed in 2003. But today, on their anniversary date, we lovingly remember them and all they contributed to each member of our family.
They were, after all, my husband's parents and our children's grandparents. Twice a year we packed up the girls and made the long twelve hour pilgrimage back to the farm, back to their welcoming hugs, and back to the ever-present stories of days gone by. It seemed to me they knew the dates of every birth and death of every relative. Even the names intrigued me, names like Opal, Mildred, and Zella.
During our summer visits we ate our meals on the porch and sought out a fan in the breathless humidity. Mom's green thumb lured us out into the yard to admire the array of colorful perennials. One time I went to pull a weed, only to hear her cry of alarm. "Don't pull that. It's Globe Thistle." I now have some of those "weeds" in my own garden beds, along with others she shared over the years. Dad's vegetable garden boasted perfect rows, rock-less soil, and not a weed to be seen. During those summertime visits, we also meandered in and out of rows of grape vines, where my husband and his siblings had learned to work side by side with migrant workers who came to pick the grapes before they used machines.
At Thanksgiving or Christmas, we worried about icy roads and weather conditions, but somehow the family managed to converge in one place. Mom loved Christmas. She had the cousins putting bows on every package. She played games, did puzzles, and read stories with each child in turn. She encouraged them to play the little organ in the back room and sing the songs she loved so well. Dad kept his eye on the forecast and recorded the daily temperature on a calendar that hung behind the kitchen door while rosy-cheeked cousins and uncles slid down the snowy bank. Whoosh!
I miss them. We all do. When the family gets together every year, I find myself wishing they were here to enjoy all their great-grandchildren. How they would have loved the little ones. The farm and the grape vineyard have sold, but the memories and the heritage Dad and Mom left to us live on. I'm grateful to have known and loved them.
if you're a member of the Phillips Family, what stories can you add to round out this day to remember them? And if you're not, I invite you to add a few memories of your own!