On Sunday, June 5, 2016 my parents celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary. That’s a lot of years. I was there for all but one of them, and I can testify that they’ve been wonderful years. Years that set a beautiful example of love and commitment for my brother and sisters and me. Years that showed us what it means to stick it out through the hard times, and to celebrate the good times. I feel pretty certain that my parents’ long, committed marriage—along with the fifty-years-plus marriages of both sets of our grandparents—is a big reason why my siblings and I have, between us, celebrated somewhere in the neighborhood of 135 wedding anniversaries.
My dad was a farmer until he “retired” a few years ago. Anyone who knows him will tell you the word “retirement” is not in Daddy’s vocabulary. He runs circles around all of us, always helping someone, sharing his time, his resources, and his faith in equal measure.
My mom (we call her “Mothe,” short for Mother) was a farm wife and I couldn’t begin to count the times she fed half a dozen farmhands (plus her five kids) a Sunday-best lunch, getting the kitchen cleaned up just in time to start making supper. She sewed most of our clothes, and for several years, drove a school bus to pay for braces on our teeth. And she did it all with a smile on her face and joy in her sweet, servant’s heart. I get exhausted just thinking about how hard my mother worked, yet she wouldn’t have had it any other way.
It was a life she chose when she was eight years old and saw my dad sitting on a fence showing off. Mothe would tell you she fell in love with my dad in that moment, and although she and Daddy each dated another for a short while, there was never really any doubt that they were meant to be together. For life.
I had the happiest childhood imaginable and though I know now that money was in short supply in the early years, my parents were creative and resourceful, and we never lacked for anything important. We were—and are—deeply loved and we know it.
Three years ago dementia reared its ugly head and we moved my mom into assisted living, then shortly after, into full nursing care. The hardest part of those moves was that it separated my parents. Even so, Daddy drove forty miles each way to be with Mothe several days a week until he could sell their place and move closer to her. Though she is mostly bedridden now and her memory and health fade day by day, her eyes still light up for Daddy like they always have. And she can still finish the Bible verses he starts for her when they have their devotions together.
We’re grateful that she still calls us each by name, and on the days she can find her words, tells us she loves us. She still has her sense of humor too, something she and Daddy always shared. Recently when one of my sisters told Mothe, “I love you,” Mothe’s reply was “I love you back… And your front and your sides too.”
As difficult as these last few years have been, there is a profound beauty in them too. To see our parents’ commitment to each other, to see them hanging in there together when so many have given up and thrown in the towel, brings a sort of hope I can scarcely explain.
I’m so grateful to God for the parents He blessed me with, and for the example they’ve set of loving each other well, and of holding fast to their Lord and to each other…for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do us part.
Happy Anniversary, Mothe and Daddy!