December 20, 2012. It was our 65th wedding anniversary. We went out for a celebratory meal together, but there were no fireworks, no streamers, no harpists playing softly in the background. We celebrated quietly. That’s our style.
We reviewed some pleasant, heartwarming memories. We like to think back often to those days when a deep and wonderful love overtook us by surprise. We call up the memories often. Doing so warms the heart.
We were both 21 and our wedding was in Kathleen’s sister’s home, a small bungalow on North Street, Niagara Falls, Ontario. Her sister Muriel and husband Wes had provided the site for the vows and a dinner afterwards. There were about 10 people there, including the minister, Rev. P. K. Smith, and his wife.
It was an 11 A. M. wedding and the day before I had tried to construct an arch made of laths under which Kathleen and I could stand to exchange vows. My best man, Mel Prior, took it apart and improved the design, making it stable. It had white and pink streamers woven in and out.
We don’t remember all that we said under the minister’s prompting but we knew we meant every word. They were traditional vows that had been in use long before we were born and are still often heard at today’s church weddings: “For better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health…”
We do remember that we were serious about what we were doing, for this we can take only part of the credit. Society was still reasonably intact on such matters and we were supported from all sides in the belief that wedding vows were for keeps. There was an unspoken assumption that the marriage would endure, whatever. In the 1940s, whenever one failed the community was shocked.
And by the grace of God, ours has endured! With joy! I believe the ceremony said something about enduring every vicissitude or something like that. That is, all ups-and- downs, ins-and-outs, no matter what.
It’s been mostly pleasant, and often wonderful, but there were challenges: the eight years while I went to school and supported the growing family at the same time; early financial strains; 11 surgeries, seven of them major; one serious illness; four babies, a special-needs son; and several moves around the continent.
The 65 years seem to have sped by but we still do a lot of talking together, a lot of laughing, and we remain tender and affectionate to each other. We not only love each other; we like each other. We’re even occasional Scrabble partners. With her fine sense of geometry and strategy, last night Kathleen beat me yet again!
One of my earliest discoveries was that Kathleen wanted to share in ministry with me. She worked by preference often behind the scenes and sometimes out in front. The parishioners must have loved me some of the time for her sake.
We started to read the Bible and pray together from the beginning. It’s called “family altar” and it’s been a daily practice for 65 years.
We tithed the first money we ever owned together. The first 10 percent was for the Lord’s work. The tithe became a starting place for our giving. He has honored us in wonderful ways for that practice, many of them not financial.
Are we having a happy marriage? Yes, in a deep and abiding sense. Has the unity been strong? Conflict has been minimal, harmony maximal. Has our marriage produced good for us and those around us? With the Lord’s gracious blessing we’ve cultivated a rich and satisfying relationship, grown a family, accumulated a modest estate, and we pray God we have been an influence for Christ and his righteousness.
Now, with a deep trust in our Shepherd, we launch year ’66 together.