Years ago, during a Thanksgiving service, I heard a man stand up and give thanks for the “wife of my youth.” With tears in his eyes, he gave thanks to God for the wife he had married as a young man. Now he was middle-aged, and he was still thankful for her. And he prayed that God would allow them to grow old together.
This is a worthy goal for a Christian couple. To start young, stay together through thick and thin, navigate the rough spots side by side, trusting in each other, and enjoying the happy moments when the sun is shining and all is well. If you stay married long enough, you will see everything. In a good marriage, there aren’t many secrets because you know each other so well. You start to think of a song . . . and she starts singing it. You start a sentence . . . and she finishes it. You laugh and cry and talk and listen and sometimes you fight and sometimes you make love and eventually the children come along, and a whole new adventure begins. Long nights, changing diapers, taking turns checking the baby, hugging them, carrying them for piggy-back rides, and then they go to college. That’s exactly how it seems. Suddenly they are gone and the house seems empty and your marriage enters a new stage. The shift back to two people isn’t always easy, but you figure out how to do it, and just when you’ve gotten things organized, the kids are home–for a week or a month or perhaps for a year or two. Only they are older now, and they come and go as they please. Then they get married and life changes again. I would write something about grandchildren but we’re not to that part of the story yet. Today our family is scattered, as usual. Marlene and I are in Oregon, Mark and Vanessa are in California, Josh and Leah are in China, and Nick is in Alabama.
Today is special to us because it is our 33rd anniversary. That means we’ve been married a third of a century, which shocks the mind so you try not to think about it. I vaguely remember being single, but it is truly vague because we’ve been married much longer than we were single. They say that older couples tend to look alike, which if it’s true, I hope it turns in my favor because she’s beautiful and I am what I am.
This morning we celebrated by sleeping late and by eating lunch at a pizza place in Cannon Beach. Then we came back to take a nap–which is what you do on your 33rd anniversary. Too much exertion can wear you out. A few minutes ago she came by, smiled, and said she was going back to town. She patted her pocket and said, “I have my cards with me.” I actually don’t know what that means, but it doesn’t matter. She leaned over to kiss me and smiled again.
Then she was gone, the wife of my youth. But her presence is with me still.