All families have their myths of creation and building, myths that are retold, over and over again. All families have shorthand expressions, part of the fabric that binds them together. Expressions that, for the initiated, tell everything in a few words, but leaves everyone else baffled. For me, these three words sum up the perfect marriage: “Portugal’s fishing policies.
We started weekends slowly, back in the days when I lived with my parents. We slept in, had a late breakfast together - often in our jammies – and after eating, I’d take my second cup of tea and retreat to my room to read, Janne would do the same and my parents would take theirs to the livingroom and talk. About anything and everything. Once, after hearing distant sounds of heated debate for a couple of hours, I emerged from my room to investigate what was so absorbing. “Portugal’s fishing policies”, they told me and collapsed in peals of laughter. At the time, they’d been married for over 30 years.
Both my parents were born with… a-hem, strong personalities (which may – just may, y’unnerstand – have been passed on to their daughters) and there were never a dull moment in the house. Loud moments of intense disagreement, sure, but also much laughter, interesting debate and love. Lots of love.
My parents were never indifferent about their feelings for each other – the bed of roses was thorny at times, but they never wavered in their passion for life, commitment to the family and constant challenging of each other to grow and be present. They became my role model for relationships, effectively rendering me unable to see the point of anything not turned up to somewhere in the 8-11 range. They taught me that it’s got to be about passion in all things - my father even mowed the lawn with passion - and most of all, between partners, passion about the mental connection. After 30 years, they were still each other’s favourite debate partners. We should all be so lucky.
Today is my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary. If my father hadn’t died in their 44th year of marriage, we’d be celebrating the Danish way today, like we did at their silver anniversary 25 years ago. An early wake-up call with friends and loved ones gathering in front of the decorated door (madly waving flags, naturally), enthusiastic singing accompanied by a small brass band, a large breakfast for everyone and later, in the evening, a delicious dinner with many songs, written especially for the happy couple (a Danish specialty, done for most big occasions). Instead, today’s celebration will be quieter, but it will still be there.
Tillykke med guldbrylluppet, mor og far.
(Birthe & Ole, April 20, 1982)