39 years ago today, I stood along side a beautiful young woman, making vows about loving, honoring and cherishing until death alone may part us. And so we have. For richer or for poorer (mostly poorer). In sickness and in health (mostly good health - with some serious sickness thrown in the past 5 1/2 years). So long as we both shall live (so far, so good). Like many of my friends, I married up. Other than coming to Christ, marrying Linda Bowling was the best thing I have ever done.
The fact that she would even have considered getting hitched to me, is somewhat of a miracle in itself. Part of it speaks of what must be my unparalleled salesmanship, but the majority has to do with the will of a loving and sovereign God. He knew that there needed to be someone in my life who could counteract the cynicism and hardness that was there. So He brought this beautiful young woman f into my life, all the way from a mountain town 100 miles away. She is the best person I have ever known, and I am honored and humbled that she has kept her vows to me (for better or worse) for nearly four decades.
The weather on that Saturday evening, 39 years ago, was much like it is today. Hot and humid. The Thomas Memorial Free Will Baptist Church was packed out that evening. I can't tell you that from memory, but from the photos which verify the fact. My Father performed the ceremony. Linda's Matron of Honor was her older sister, Violet Bennett. Her bridesmaids included her cousin, Brenda Huddle, her cousin, Joyce Faye Pope, her former roommate, the late Sandy Chapman, and her close friend, Lois Conn Vallance.
Doug Goolsby, my college friend and kindred spirit stood with me as the best man. (I would return the favor three years later at his wedding in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Other groomsmen included my younger brother, Bruce, lifelong friend and neighbor, Donnie Smith, best friend from High School, Phil Cheek, and college friend, Larry Gunnoe. Linda's little nephew, Glen Bennett was our ring bearer. His sister, Gloria, was the flower girl.
The wedding was beautiful. There were a couple of humorous hitches that came off during the ceremony, but what weddings are there that do not have some memorable gaffes?
A nice reception was held in the church's "sewing room" and fellowship hall. Donnie, Bruce, and the others, made sure my little Opel Cadet was properly adorned with the obligatory "Just Married" decorations. We spent our wedding night in the Holiday Inn at South Point, Ohio, and there wasn't much of a honeymoon since both of us had to be back at work on Monday morning.
It wasn't much of a wedding by today's standards, but there is more to a marriage than the cost of the wedding ceremony or a two week honeymoon to some exotic place. Marriage is more about commitment than anything else. Oh yes! Love is important, but as time goes by, one comes to understand that love is much more than we thought it was when we were 20 years old.
A marriage based on love (for God first, and then for one another) and commitment , is a marriage that will stand the test of time.
For some reason, unknown to me, God has chosen to keep us here for 39 years. He has blessed us with two great sons, and two wonderful daughters in law. The "icing" on our anniversary cake would be Quint, Will, Canon, and Asher, our four precious grand kids. We still live in a humble home, drive cars that have seen better days, and really don't have much by this world's standards, but we are rich beyond measure.
We celebrated our anniversary a day early this year at Disney's Magic Kingdom with part of our family. God has been good to us (even if Michelle did make me wear the funny hat!).
Happy anniversary Baboo! I love you more today than yesterday - but not as much as tomorrow.