August 25, 1967. It was the day two people that would eventually become my parents said, 'I do.' They were the son and daughter of southeast Iowa farmers, he a Vietnam veteran and she an employee of an overall factory. My dad has often said he can't believe mom fell for him and that she was the only woman in the world that would want him. I know better. He's a wonderful, generous man who has taught me an awful lot in my 48 years.

I learned the game of baseball from my dad. He spent hours upon hours playing catch with me, throwing pop-ups and grounders. He was also my coach for several years. Dad was a Cubs fan when I was growing up and still, to this day, roots for them. However, he's a Cardinals fan first and foremost. I take credit for that.

My dad taught me how to work. He was someone who worked 7 to 3:30 and then when the weather was fit, would paint houses to make extra money to support the family. He helped me get started mowing lawns and we detasseled together. He also worked at the same place, Keokuk County Highway Department, for more than 30 years. I'm betting that's part of the reason I've been here 27-plus years.

Now that he's retired, dad volunteers. A lot. Lions Club paper pickup, Meals on Wheels, and Hospice are just a few of the organizations that have benefitted from his time and care for the community.

Mom was there. Period. She was able to be a stay-at-home mom for my sister, Terri, and me until our teenage years when she went to work, initially, part-time. Like me, she's an animal lover. Whether it was our cats, dog, or raising baby goats (kids), animals were part of our life ever since we were very little. Bottle-feeding those kids and watching them kick up their heels is one of the memories I'll always cherish.

My mom is one of my best friends. It was her that got me through Algebra. When I was totally lost, together we went back to the beginning of the book and I went from a "D slip" to a B+. I was so proud of that turnaround and it was all because of her.

My love of music came from my mom. Not because she was an avid listener of music on the radio, but because she always filled our home with song. She's been a member of the church choir for as long as I can remember and can sing like a bird.

I could go on and on about them both, but something someone from Sigourney told me a few years ago really stuck with me. My parents had recently moved back to town into a beautiful home. The man told me, "I'm so happy for them. They deserve it." In two sentences, he had told me how the community felt about my parents and that they recognized just how hard they've worked.

Congratulations on 50 years, mom and dad. I love you both so much. I've been blessed to have you as parents and to have you set such a wonderful example for Terri and me. Combined, we've now been married for almost 49 years. We're right behind you... still following your lead.

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