Rick and I got married on December 21, 1969. With all the activities of Christmas, one would think a young couple would pick a less hectic time for a wedding, but that was the only time the church was available. My parents had retired and moved to Oregon and Rick was in the Marine Corps, stationed at El Toro. Hence, I did most of the planning, and it was a simple, old-fashioned wedding with family and friends. All Rick had to do was get time off and show up (not always easy to do when you are subject to the “exigencies of the Corps”). He said he’d go AWOL if he had to – thankfully, he didn’t.
We celebrated our 45th anniversary this year. Close friends invited us to share the celebration: three couples, all married in December (20, 21, and 22) of 1969. We went to the movies and then gathered at Holly and Bob’s to share memories and break bread together. We all brought our wedding albums. Oh, those old pictures! We looked so young! I was the oldest of the bunch at 22 and marrying a younger man of 21.
Rick and I look at each other and gasp, “Where did the time go?” We’ve grown up together, had three children, watched them get married and have children of their own. We’ve been through hard times, moved twelve times, owned a family business and traveled the world together. We’re growing old(er) and dealing with the joys of creaking joints, aching backs, wrinkles and hair loss. We talk about slowing down someday – maybe next year — just not yet. We still have places to see and things to do.
What’s held us together in marriage for so many years? We were friends before we were lovers. We’ve encouraged one another to go after our dreams, separately and together. Rick wanted to finish college, and I considered it an honor to help. I wanted to be a writer. Rick edited and said, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Get that manuscript out of the closet and send it in!” We hoped to have children and God blessed us with three. We wanted to travel and opportunities came through work and saving and planning. Our toughest years of marriage were the ones when we didn’t know Jesus. We floundered and almost sank until we met the Master of the Universe, our Lifesaver who pulled us up out of the depths and lifted us into His boat. Jesus manned the sails and kept us off the rocks. He’ll get us safely home.
Remembering the vows we said before God before we even knew Him, we have grown up and are growing old together, lovers and friends until death do us part. Marriage is work, hard work, with great rewards and blessings along the way, especially when Jesus holds the chart and is the wind in the sails.