Ann Landers once said that Love is a friendship that has caught on fire. It is the perfect quote to describe the romance of my mother and father Sasho and Elsa Ristovski. I’ve written about them in past entries, but not to the detail I’ll go to today. To many, love is a very complex topic that has a web of difficulty and many levels of commitment. We all know a couple that defies all obstacles and odds – and my nomination is my dear parents.
My parents met at the turn of the millennium in 2000 at their workplace, the Crown Casino in Melbourne, Australia. It was a typical first meeting straight out of a romantic comedy film, where the couple in question stares each other down and thinks “As if I’m gonna become your partner”. And just like the Hollywood films tell us, people like this are meant to be and eventually my father asked my mother out.
On their first date, he brought her a giant teddy bear of Eeyore the Donkey from the Winnie the Pooh books as Eeyore was Mum’s favourite character. He cost $200 and still sits on our living room couch to this day.
Mum and Dad moved things pretty quickly, for they eventually broke the news that they’d be expecting their first child within months of first dating. The reward for a new child coming was their wedding, and you could call it a a shotgun wedding because there was very limited time to prepare it. But the timeline didn’t matter in the end for on December 9, 2001, my parents would marry at the St Nikola Macedonian Orthodox Church in Preston, within a year of knowing each other.
I call it true love that they were prepared to spend the rest of their lives together only mere years into knowing each other. It takes some couples years to do this, and some choose not to get married at all.
They had their honeymoon in the pacific island nation of Vanuatu, where Mum famously lost her shoes on a beach. The joke to this day is that some local in Vanuatu is still wearing them. I was welcomed into the world not so long after and parenthood was yet another challenge that Dad and Mum would battle together and raised the brilliant, talented, occasionally grumpy Jordan Ristovski.
There were many complex ideas of love being portrayed in real life and on TV screens when I was growing up in the 2000s. But Mum and Dad were always honest and taught me well, no matter how young or old I was at the time.
Their relationship would be tested with the deterioration of Mum’s health and the conflict of how to effectively manage every aspect of your life when faced with such a reality. But they managed to stick by each other’s side, no matter how rosy or messy it was. They achieved the perfect balance of letting Mum face her cancer battles head on by herself and also supporting her when she really needed the family support.
Strength was always my parent’s bread and butter- in their first house together, my parents would snuggle for warmth in the back bedroom of their house when they couldn’t quite afford the heating just yet. Name anything that impacts a couples relationship and I bet my parents have fought and conquered it.
When it comes to my own romantic life, I try and take many leaves and plays out of my parents book. They taught me to be a gentlemen, to spoil a young lady with whatever she may desire and to treat her with the utmost respect.
I was always warned that no matter who I’d be dating, whether they are a professional supermodel or my neighbour ten doors down, I’d always be dating the family as well – so be warned and tread carefully. It’s always been interesting to note not many in my generation share my views on this topic, but then I remember my parents are of a different generation.
A night out to themselves every month was a key secret to my parent’s happy marriage. It didn’t really matter what they did, whether it was a concert, dinner, or some function like a wedding or awards night, it really kept the idea of romance alive, the same romance you have when you’ve just met a romantic partner. Keeps the marriage fresh and alive, and not decaying into old age as my mother used to say.
No one’s marriage or relationship is perfect, that’s a fact. Human nature just wouldn’t allow that. But I believe my parents relationship gave that statement a real challenge and a half. Challenge was the middle name of Mum and Dad’s relationship, for they faced many.
But unlike others out there, they never hid away from one or tried to find the cleanest way out. They took down every challenge with an imaginary Kalashnikov and Panzer tank. And that’s the same attitude I apply to my everyday life, and towards finding my own dream wife one day.