Before Valentine’s Day fades completely into memory (I’m sure for many it did at 12:01 Sunday morning) I wanted to share a story about a couple who have had the ultimate influence on me during my 37 years.
The tie-in with Valentine’s Day is a natural one: it was the day they were married. Paul and Melba Bridges, your humble columnist’s parents, were married during an era when the world was a different place for sure. However, through thick and thin they have stood tall, raised two sons, and provided a rock solid foundation of support and guidance.
I have long said anything positive I have accomplished is because of them. In reality, I have no excuse for not accomplishing more.
Perhaps the greatest testament to one’s parents is having fond childhood memories. Growing up, I was truly fortunate to never lack for anything. It wasn’t because I was born into riches, rather, my parents were extremely hard workers who saved every penny they could. They are still that way. They provided my brother and I with everything children could want and then some.
Looking back on my childhood, one of the things I remember most was their constant support in anything I did or attempted to do. From recreation baseball, in which my father coached, to school work, which my mother, a school teacher by profession, helped with numerous projects and homework assignments, they were always there. I didn’t appreciate as much at the time, but then it’s human nature not to when it’s constantly there.
A love of sports was passed on from my father. While my passion for sports would eventually surpass his, we still discuss athletics today. He asks about the teams I cover. We still talk about the Falcons, Braves, Bulldogs, Yellow Jackets, etc. We talk about college football (my passion) a great deal.
My mother is one I still turn to when I need help figuring out a financial document or help with a confusing statement from an insurance company (is there any other kind?). She looks over my retirement statements (at least some of their savings sense rubbed off on me) and assures me I am on the right track for the day I retire (at the age of 85.)
Through it all, they continue to provide that rock-solid foundation for me to lean on through good and bad times. No matter how high or how low life gets, I know they are going to be there. Growing up, friends were not as fortunate. Products of broken homes, many did not have the stable home life I took for granted.
When scholars and experts in various fields try to figure where today’s youth goes wrong or why they don’t do as well in school, I believe most cases can be traced back home. If a solid home environment is not there, a child is fighting an uphill battle from the start.
That’s why I have always considered myself fortunate when it comes to the family foundation. I had it with both my maternal and paternal grandparents, who were all married well over 50 years. Now my parents are setting the same standard. It’s a standard which I admire and wish there was more of today.
So here’s to that Valentine’s Day more than four decades ago when a young couple from Georgia tied the knot. Yes, they were young, but they knew it was the right thing to do. Through thick and thin, good and bad, they have stood the test of time. In a world of celebrity marriages which last months, I salute what my parents have and can’t help but think how better off we would be if more people would follow their lead.
Chris Bridges is editor of the Barrow Journal. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.