One Heck of a Knot

Thirty-seven years ago, my parents tied the knot.
That was one sturdy knot, and neither of my parents was a scout. My dad did join the Navy, but that was later. The knot tying at their wedding was sheer natural skill.
The 37th anniversary is the alabaster year. I don't think my parents own any alabaster at this point, but Alabaster is the name of a city in Alabama and my mom loves the south. Maybe they'll take an alabaster vacation.
I'm getting the idea that the traditional materials for each year of marriage have a lot to say about the process through which that knot goes. Maybe when people say things like the paper anniversary, the china anniversary or the diamond anniversary, they're describing the actual couple. Let me break this down.
First year is paper. A young marriage with a lot of strengthening to do. If you were to stop at paper and not work on your marriage, you'd find yourself tearing easily.
China comes along, stronger, but delicate. It requires protection and any carelessness could lead to disaster. Like a 20 year marriage-- lots of time in the kiln, but without the fire all you'd have is a lump of clay. Or in this case, paper. If you push through the fire and let it mold your marriage, you come out the other side with a work of beauty, solid form and dainty strength. Not to mention a very high value.
After 60 years, a marriage should be more solid than any substance on earth, and maybe able to cut glass. What does that mean? I don't know. And I don't think I know anybody who has been married 60 years that I could ask. But I also know diamonds sparkle and become radiant under pressure.
We've got earth and fire refining marriages so far. I suppose wind is in there somewhere, too.
Back to my parents and their alabaster. Alabaster is split into three types: calcite, gypsum and black. Some are extremely soft, others very hard and not scratchable. One reacts with acid, the other shrugs it off. Black gypsum is extremely rare.
That would be my parents. They are, as a couple, both soft and tough, reactionary and steadfast. Their 37 years is rare. Like alabaster, the 37 year couple is assumed to be a thing of the past, something you read in the Bible or Conrad. And yet there they are, the married couple of 37 years in the modern world. I have to say I'm grateful to see my parents together. Unlike so many of my peers, I don't doubt it can be done because I've seen it. Their example will be a huge boost to me when I someday tie my own paper knot.
Coming back to that alabaster jar, I remember hearing that the woman in the Bible who broke the jar at Jesus' feet wasn't just offering perfume, she was offering her heart. Apparently women in that time and place were given an alabaster jar of perfume reserved for their engagement. When the woman was engaged, she broke the jar at her fiance's feet as a symbol of belonging.
Putting that into the picture, I wonder if the way to handle the alabaster year of marriage is to lay it down with force at Jesus' feet, pouring it out, because by now a sweet perfume is encased within. You don't stick it out for 37 years and find yourself empty. Even a rough 37 years has a lot to offer. Every couple I know getting married today looks at people like my mom and dad and wants to know, 'how?'
And then, you can't just stop and admire your alabaster jar. You've got to break it open and keep working at it, because marriage is meant to become more.


I wondered what else has lasted 37 years and so gave a spin. It gave me nothing and I returned to Google to discover 37 is not only a prime number, but the fifth 'lucky prime.'
My parents made prime time.
Thirty-seven is the number of slots in European roulette. Some people would call marriage a gamble.
I don't think my parents call it luck, but I'll say their gamble paid off.
Paul Newman was inmate 37 in Cool Hand Luke.
I'll refrain from the ball and chain jokes, but both my parents liked Paul Newman.
37 is the first part of the international dialing code for Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Moldavia, Armenia, Belarus, Andorra, Monaco and San Marino.
Pretty sure my dad's been to all of those.
Also on that list is the Vatican City. My mom had ties to the pope in her childhood, having been raised Catholic and all.
An episode of The Brady Bunch was named the 37th greatest TV episode of all time.
My family is nothing like the Brady Bunch. In fact, I'm pretty sure we would have whooped the Bradys and made it to the top ten.
Radio signals from the Galileo spacecraft confirming the launch of a Jupiter atmospheric probe took 37 minutes to reach Earth.
Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system, but there is nothing large about my mother. She's more a Pluto. Not that she's a dwarf, she's just slight. Dad's a pretty big dude, though.
There are 37 genes in the mitochondrial genome.
My parents both have tons of mitochondria.
The Green Monster in Fenway Park is 37 feet tall.
Actually, it's a little more than that, but the point is I love the Sox and I have no doubt my parents are just as excited as I that their marriage has lived up to the Green Monster.
"Les Miserables" has a cast of 37.
My parents have a flair for the dramatic they're still denying.
There's a list of 37 politically correct ways to say someone is stupid.
My dad knows them all. And he'll use them so be nice.
If a bunch of people toss their hats into the air and randomly retrieve them, the probability that no one will end up with their own hat is about 37%.
Dad always wears a hat, but if he throws it he defies odds and always ends up with his hat. Of course you could also say he walks off with another guy's hat 63% of the time, calling it his own.
"Normal" human body temperature is 37 degrees Celsius. Mom's a nurse, she already knew this.
I can now think of 37 reasons to go to sleep, but I just wanted to say,
Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad.