The earliest thing I remember about my parents is that they never missed their Tuesday movie date. No matter what, they always made it to the cinema; my dad would choose the movie and my mom would buy the popcorn and chips. It was their “Tuesdate” tradition, one that my brother and I would only occasionally join if we were free that day.
Unless there was a major lunch they had to attend or a really important prior engagement, their Tuesday movie date was a non-negotiable. Then, their “Tuesdate” would continue into the evening where they would attend a yoga class together. Unfortunately, because of the pandemic, their tradition has been put on hold, but they still manage to find ways of creating special moments in quarantine.
As my parents celebrate their 21st year of marriage this Feb. 12, I continue to marvel at their story and enduring commitment to one another throughout the years, seemingly as if an invisible string was tying them to one another all their lives. Reality has shown me that love is definitely nothing like how the movies depict: It’s hard and complicated, full of struggles and not always meant to have a happy ending. But I have seen that it’s also meant to be beautiful and comfortable, shifting between moments of passion and tenderness, as you find a home with another person and discover the courage to allow yourself to fall and bloom.
There are still moments when my parents seem to form the unlikeliest of pairs, like with their different tastes in food and music. But I have come to realize that they share many of the same integral qualities that make them right for one another. My dad’s loud and forthright attitude may contrast with my mom’s soft-spoken nature, but they are both very outgoing and unafraid to take on leadership roles in various projects. In fact, they have proven to work well both together and individually in business and planning successful galas and events.
My dad enjoys a quiet day at home while my mom loves going on trips and adventures, but they never fail to create lasting memories for our family. My dad’s street smarts coupled with my mom’s book smarts ensure that our home runs smoothly. Together, they prepared my brother and I for the world, raising us with the best combination of qualities. In short, they complement one another. Most importantly, both raised in Chinese-Filipino households, they shared similar backgrounds and the same values of placing family as the number one priority. We always make time to attend big family reunions and travel with our extended family, but we also know how to create special moments and traditions just for us.
Before the pandemic, my parents had very busy social calendars; they could always be found with each of their respective groups of friends. Sometimes they attended social engagements separately, and sometimes they went together. But you could tell that their favorite thing after the end of a long, busy night was coming home to one another to exchange stories, knowing that they could find peace together after the chaos of a busy day. It was evident that both my mom and dad knew how to be their own person and stand on their own two feet without the other. But, at the same time, they also choose to rely on the other because they knew that their partnership allowed them to grow so much more as people.
And I think that’s the foundation of a marriage: friendship and trust. Before anything else, I learned from watching my parents that the kind of friendship you form with your future spouse will set up the kind of marriage you will eventually have. Friendship gives one the opportunity to get to know the person for who he or she is. It gives you the opportunity to learn things about him that you would not have learned otherwise. Though my parents are now husband and wife, there was a time where they were friends first, and their friendship remains with them even until now.
Like every relationship, my parents do have their ups and downs. My brother and I have witnessed them all. But what’s important is that they ultimately find their way back to each other to survive the turmoils of life. Their commitment to the small things in their relationship, such as their Tuesday movie dates, amplify their commitment to each other and to our family.
We tend to track our life through milestones, but watching how my parents’ marriage has progressed through the years shows that love is measured more through the little, everyday acts of love rather than the grand gestures. Love manifests itself when my mom buys my dad his favorite food and desserts as a surprise just because. Love manifests itself when my dad tirelessly plans out all the details of our family vacations abroad. Love manifests itself when my dad and mom are able to escape and laugh at their own private jokes amid a dinner party. Love is going on our annual family trips to Canada just to hit all our favorite restaurant chains. Love is accepting the other’s flaws and imperfections. Love is sacrifice. Love is trust.
As much as I wish I was back on campus, I consider myself lucky that I have been granted this time to spend my parents’ 21st anniversary with them, especially since I missed their milestone 20th last year.
No relationship is perfect but each relationship is perfect for those involved in it. I can only hope to find my other half in the future, just as my parents were lucky enough to find each other. Even as the years pass by, I am certain that their secret smiles and stolen moments of laughter will remain the same. I can’t wait to see my parents’ relationship continue to grow in the future. To my dad, thank you for showing me that love is about courage, strength and responsibility. To my mom, thank you for showing me that love is about acceptance, patience and warmth. Cheers to their 21 years and many more happy celebrations in the future!
Michelle Limpe is a sophomore from the Philippines studying Chemistry and Public Health. She is a News & Features Editor for The News-Letter. In her articles, she likes to reflect on finding the silver linings in life to give meaning to her struggles.