Last Saturday Mother, Ray, and I went to Coopertown, Tennessee, to celebrate the fiftieth wedding anniversary of Mother’s first cousin and her husband. In the area where my ancestors settled before Tennessee became a state, we reconnected with cousins Mother grew up with and who Ray and I know only through family reunions. What a pleasure to honor Vernona and Duane, who are examples to all the rest of us. I appreciate their extensive genealogical research about our family, the care they have given to a family cemetery, and their hosting Mother’s family’s reunions. I admire the courage they had in their sixties, when they went to Papua New Guinea, to spend a year as missionaries with Wycliffe Bible translators.
When the time came time for their renewal of vows, Duane announced that we would watch it on video. In the video, the minister who performed their ceremony fifty years ago led them from his wheelchair in the waiting room of the nursing home where he now resides.
Mother, Ray, and I had been out of town for a couple of days when we checked our mail late Friday night and found the invitation to the anniversary party. Ray and I had plans for Saturday, something I had been looking forward to for weeks, a gathering with a few friends from high school. Mother never asked me if we would take her, but I knew it was the right thing to do. When we arrived, Mother walked up to her cousin June and said, “I had a stroke.” Mother’s eyes welled up with tears. June told her that a lady at their church looks just like Mother and that she is as sweet as Mother is. I told June I wasn’t so sure about that.
Mother filled her plate with goodies and sat down with more cousins. Those early tears were the only ones I saw. Instead I saw a face beaming with joy. In the early evening, Ray and I joined my friends from high school about four hours late and had a wonderful time. Instead of one special treat on Saturday, we had two.
My parents celebrated their fiftieth anniversary six months before Daddy died. Mother’s parents and Daddy’s parents celebrated fiftieth anniversaries, too. I got to be at all three of those celebrations. After the video at Vernona and Duane’s party, their whole family–two sons, two daughters-in-law, and six grandchildren–came to the front of the room and stood with the honorees. Their older son praised his parents for the example they have been and for the sacrifices they made for him and his brother. He told us that he and his wife had celebrated their twenty-fifth anniversary in July.
A marriage of fifty years is a compilation of moments and decisions. Do what is in your power to live today’s moments and make today’s decisions so that your children will someday have the opportunity to host your fiftieth wedding celebration. And when you are invited to celebrate one with others, take your children. Give them the opportunity to honor what is honorable and to celebrate what is worth celebrating.
Marriage is to be held in honor among all.
Hebrews 13:4, NASB