I Did. I Do. I Will.

Today is December 29, 2016. It’s a Thursday, our 51st Wedding Anniversary. Tom and I got married after Christmas, because I wanted to be at home for Christmas in Ayden with Mother and Daddy just one more time. Mother decorated the house that year with white poinsettias, gold reindeer and a white velvet Santa. It seems like such a long time ago, much water over the dam or under the bridge. We were remembering our rehearsal party, held at the home of a family friend. It was the first time either of us had tasted coffee punch. Loaded with vanilla ice cream, it was such a treat.

Our wedding day breakfast was for family and out of town guests at a place called the Candlewick Inn in Greenville. The restaurant was straight out of Williamsburg and decorated with antiques from the colonial period. It was perfect considering we were honeymooning in Williamsburg beginning that very night. The three o’clock wedding was at the Ayden Christian Church. Ralph Messick officiated; Joe Ray sang. Daddy cried and Tom beamed. It was a lovely time of friends and family gathered. People still had Christmas lights and trees up; the world sparkled.

We have seen a lot of sparkle through the years, and we have seen a lot of tarnish. Young love is shiny, new with adventure and discovery. Reality sets in early, like when the first big insurance payment comes due. And that doesn’t compare at all to a first child. The years add up with lessons learned, blessings abound alongside hard knocks, financial crises, health issues. With it all comes growth and maturity that teaches us what real love is. Real love is as much about commitment as it is love; it is about honor and respect and “plowing to the end of the row,” as Jesus tells his disciples in Luke 9. Tom and I were very young when we married, 20 and 19. What we did, I likely would not recommend to everybody. What I would recommend is finding a mate who shares the same values as you, a mate who is interesting to talk to and interested in learning and growing with you. Saying “I Do”ups the relationship ante.

The fruit of our “I Do” is seen in a family we love, good work we are given to do, and a continuing love of life and of God, plus a lot of fun, laughter, and good conversation. That there is never a shortage of opinion in our household is not a surprise to anyone who knows us. On this, my 51st wedding anniversary, I say to you, dear husband: I did love you in 1965 when this all began. I do love you and honor you more today than I did even then. I will love you as long as I have breath. Happy Anniversary, dear One.

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