I intended this to be a Father’s Day tribute to my Dad. But my youngest brother, Anton, just reminded me it’s a double celebration. It’s William and Esther Armstrong’s 73rd wedding anniversary!

Dad has been gone twelve years, Mom seven. But I’ll bet the house they are celebrating right now.

We were never big on talking about our feelings. Maybe it’s a family thing, maybe it’s generational. Whatever, my two brothers and I never doubted our parents love. We tested their patience many times and were duly rewarded.

Dad was from the John Wayne school of conversation. Brief chats and meaningful looks to make his words (or silence) crystal clear. He was handy; I wasn’t. Remember what I said about patience?

One of our most emotional moments came after I enlisted in the Marine Corps. It was one of the rare times I saw Dad cry.

Mom, Dad and baby me

My Father was a World War II veteran and like most vets, he didn’t talk much about his combat experiences. He kept it to himself for decades. Near the end of his life, Dad talked a little about some truly horrific war experiences. After he died, we found medals amongst his stowed away possessions.

Mom was always the voice of the family. She was the classic strong woman, but it came at a price. It was our last lucid conversation before dementia began to take its ugly toll. Mom, who always seemed estranged from Marilyn, asked how things were going. Before I could finish, she interrupted and quietly but firmly told me I should show Marilyn my love, to make her feel wanted and appreciated. Mom had a funny look on her face.

I just listened. Mom talked about the courtship years with Dad. It was fascinating. I never could picture Mom and Dad as young adults with all the ups and downs of dating. Those were the days when you wrote letters to your loved one.

It wasn’t easy for them. But, finally, loved conquered all.

Perfect wedding

Their wedding in 1941 was something out of Hollywood. Bigger than big. Lovely women, handsome men.  Mom and Dad never looked happier.

My parents never talked about their dreams. I think they were put on hold — permanently — after I made my début the following year. Dad was off to war. Mom was beginning six plus decades of molding our family. I guess their dreams wound up in the lives of my two brothers and me.

I still see Mom and Dad in my dreams. Dad in his uniform, Mom looking like a cover girl. I’m the kid from central casting.

Here’s looking at you, Mommy and Daddy!

Author: Garry Armstrong

As a reporter for Channel 7 in Boston for 31 years, I was witness to most of the major events affecting the region. I met a lot of people ... politicians, actors, moguls, criminals and many regular folks caught up in extraordinary situations. Sometimes, I write about the people I've met and places I've been. Sometimes, I write about life, my family, my dogs and me. Or what might otherwise be called Life.


  1. What a wonderful post. Thanks you for sharing.
    Your family truly is a beautiful looking bunch.
    May both of your parents continue to rest in peace.


  2. Dear Garry and Marilyn,

    What a beautiful website. I have enjoyed the posts and photos about your parents. I’ve met you both several times, but i wouldn’t expect you to remember. I am one of the thousands of Anton’s students. I got to meet your parents too several times; particularly memorable was a concert at your home church when i was ten years old and your mom made us sing (overriding your very strong brother) until we satisfied her desire to hear several pieces she requested. Your dad was a true gentleman and I have heard stories of his impeccable dressing and I smiled as I saw the perfect uniform and super shined shoes in the photos. In addition, I lived in Boston for a time after graduate school and I enjoyed seeing your broadcasts. You are a wonderful newsman. Your family is an inspiration to me and clearly the many accomplishments of you boys is a reflection of how truly wonderful your parents were.


    1. Dear Karin,
      Thank you for the lovely and thoughtful comments. You have some insight into the Armstrong “boys”. Yes, Mom was a force of nature!! You won’t be surprised to hear that we butted heads over the years but it always ended with affection. My Dad schooled me in dressing properly. In later years, I developed a reputation as Boston’s “GQ” TV news reporter. I always credited my Dad. Anton is now carrying the torch. Retirement affords me the time to reflect on the past. I’m now a Grandfather and catch myself saying the same things Mom and Dad used to say. Life is funny that way. Thanks, again, for your wonderful comments.


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