Sixty years ago today my mama exchanged vows with the man she would spend so many years with, she says she hardly remembers life without him. To this day, they still squabble over who proposed to whom, but after six decades, that might be water under the bridge.
“Your love for each other gets stronger as you go along,” Mama said. “We love each other more today than we thought we did back on Aug. 14, 1954.”
Love was discovering the mattress in their first apartment had a hole smack dab in the middle only to flip it over and find a hole twice as big as the first. Love was Mama crying all night because she couldn’t bear to put her pretty new sheets on a dirty mattress, and Papa finding a new rental the next morning.
“Let the other one know what you’re thinking and feeling,” Mama said. “I could say don’t go to bed without saying, ‘I’m sorry,’ but I know there are times we took it to bed, and the ‘I’m sorry’ didn’t come out till the next day or the next.”
The two lived everywhere from Alaska to Libya during Papa’s 22 years in the Air Force. They built almost 200 churches over 12 years with the Texas Baptist Men. They raised two children, and tore up the highway in their fifth wheel. They volunteered across the border each winter and caught too many fish off the Horace Caldwell Pier to count, though Papa might like to try.
“For better or for worse,” Mama said. “Take the good with the bad. Everything’s not always a bed of roses. If anybody ever says, ‘Our marriage is perfect,’ no way — there’s some snares. But through it all I’ve learned God is there to see you through it. You have to ask him and let him.”
Sixty years later, there’s no dirty mattress, but love is in the day-to-day. It’s Mama caring for the man who’s always stood by her side, even now when his memory flickers like a firefly and then fades into dusk. It’s Papa acting as Mama’s eyes, and Mama his ears.
“I love her and she loves me,” Papa said. “Everything hasn’t been perfect. I’m not perfect, and she’s not perfect. But Jesus has been the center point of our life, and that’s what makes it all go around.”
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4: 16-18