Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth. ~ Proverbs 5:18
At first they didn’t like each other. At all.
He remembers the first time he saw her. February 1st, 1964. She was standing at the kitchen sink in a pair of red pedal pushers washing dishes. He was a soldier stationed in Virginia who’d come to South Carolina with his Army buddy, Tommy, just to meet her. She was Tommy’s girlfriend’s best friend and they thought the two would hit it off. They didn’t.
But then, something clicked. They began seeing each other regularly. He hitchhiked from Virginia almost every weekend just to see her. This transplanted Yankee from New York State had fallen in love with a Southern girl, and thus began their story.
They still celebrate February 1st every year.
They also celebrate another momentous day each year, their wedding anniversary. This year, however, is extra special.
Last week my parents, Don and Christine Limoges, celebrated their 50th anniversary. Like most couples who achieve this milestone, it’s an amazing accomplishment for many reasons. Marriage is hard. I know I’ve said that many times, but it’s true. No one should ever go into marriage thinking it’s going to be all hearts and roses. It’s not.
My mom tells me stories from when they were first married. Because my dad was in the Army, they had to
immediately move to another state. Just a few months after they married, he received orders stationing him in Germany. My mom was pregnant with me on the way over and she talks about how lonely it was there. She knew no German and there was only one English-speaking radio program that ran for a half hour every day. My grandmother shipped her boxes of books she would read over and over again. After I was born, at least she could to talk me, but I’m sure I wasn’t a stimulating conversationalist 🙂
There were many other hard times. When I was 17 months old, Daddy was sent to Vietnam. My mom was left with me and my six week old brother to live with her parents for a year. She says she never watched the news while he was away. She was terrified of what she’d see. I can’t imagine being a twenty- year- old mother of two and not knowing if my husband would ever return. But he did, safe and sound and he wanted to re-enlist. Mama told him she’d leave him if he did. I don’t think she could’ve gone through that again.
Daddy eventually found a job as a truck driver and that became his career.
Not long after, my sister came along and made our family complete.
There were many ups and downs along the way. Daddy was gone a lot because of his job and Mama got lonely sometimes taking care of three kids. But they made it work.
Then, five years ago, Daddy was diagnosed with leukemia. We couldn’t believe it. The good news, however, was that he had the best kind you can have (if there is such a thing). That year for their 45th anniversary, he wanted to make sure everyone knew how special my mom was to him and planned a ceremony to renew their vows. Mama doesn’t like a lot of attention and didn’t want to do it at first, but Daddy was afraid he wouldn’t be here for their 50th. This was important to him.
We celebrated their vow renewal ceremony at their little church. My sister and I were the bridesmaids and our brother walked Mama down the aisle. She looked beautiful as she walked toward Daddy in front of all of the guests. He looked like he could hardly contain himself. My daughter sang Love Lifted Me, a song my dad had requested because he said that’s what Mama’s love had done for him. It was a tender, sweet ceremony. A day we all came to treasure.
Two years later, Daddy was diagnosed with lung cancer. He’d smoked for 50 years before giving it up over seven years earlier. We were all afraid of the consequences he’d have to suffer for it. But God (don’t you just love those two words?), healed him from that cancer after having two-thirds of one lung removed. No radiation or chemo. Miracles do still happen.
That was three years ago. Mom and dad are both doing well physically, praise God.
So this anniversary was extra special not only because of the passing of years, but also because Daddy was here to celebrate it. Mom and dad took the whole family out to dinner for their anniversary (with the exception of my niece’s family who are stationed in Korea). Dad said there was no better way to celebrate than to treat the people he loves with a special dinner.
We did have a surprise party for mom and dad last month while we were on vacation in the mountains. Almost all of Daddy’s immediate family was able to come, as well as my Mom’s sister and nieces. It was great to be able to celebrate with those we rarely get to see.
A few weeks ago at church, another couple was recognized for their 50th anniversary with a plaque. At first, I thought that was a little strange. Then I realized what an accomplishment it was. In a society where marriages are dissolving all around us, they deserve to be honored with an award. Maybe it will give others hope that it can be done.
Here’s to my parents for hanging on through the good times and bad for 50 years. You are an inspiration to us all. We love you!!
Is there someone in your life who’s inspired you in your marriage? I’d love to hear their story!