This past Friday, Fred and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary. My “techie computer geek” husband declared it our 18,262nd Day-versary! Either way, it has been a long run, and one for which I am very grateful.
Not that you care about our love story, but I want to tell it. When we met during my first year of college, neither of us were looking for a romantic relationship. It could not happen, in fact, with the two of us. Our friends insisted we were not a good match. Fred asked me out on a dare from his friends who told him I wouldn’t go out with him.
They were very wrong! After all, Fred had Andy Williams and Roger Miller concert tickets. (Now I have revealed my age and my era!) On top of that, it was Homecoming weekend at the University of Alabama! I really wanted to go to that concert!
After the concert, Fred walked me to the door of my dorm. When I turned to leave, he pulled me back and kissed me. I’m not sure exactly what it was about that kiss, but it was instantaneous. I was in love! Silly, right? I walked up the stairs to my third floor dorm room and found my roommate and my across-the-hall friends waiting for me.
They looked at me with great anticipation. “Well, how was it?” they asked, not at all expecting my response.
I said simply, “I’m going to marry him.”
Raucous laughter filled the room, and as we used to say, “They rolled in the floor laughing!”
I assured them that I was not kidding as all three of them stared at me with expressions that ranged from puzzlement to complete disbelief. And that was that for a Friday night first date!
On Monday, Fred had not called me as I expected he would. So I called him and asked him to come over on Monday evening for a walk on the campus. His response was that he might come after his fraternity meeting.
That kind of noncommittal response was not acceptable to me. I fretted for several hours wondering if he would come.
He came. We walked. And then next to a huge tree in the middle of the campus quadrangle, I said, “God told me we are going to get married.”
His response was a typical “Fred” response. “God has not told me anything about that!”
Be that as it may, we got married nine months’ later, beginning a life journey filled with experiences in five states, several cities, and a few foreign countries, a 50 year journey.
I don’t really need to make this story religious, but I can’t help but think of the love story of Rebekah and Isaac and the ways it intersects with our story. First of all, Rebekah’s family did not arrange her marriage as was the custom. It all began by a well of water where a servant of Abraham landed in his search for a wife for Isaac. He had asked God for a sign, saying that whoever agrees to draw water from the well for him and his camels will be the woman for Isaac.
Rebekah was near that well, and as the story goes, she very kindly drew water for Abraham’s servant and all of his animals. She was the one God had chosen, then.
Almost immediately, the decision was finalized with Rebekah’s parents. The servant asked that they might leave the next day, definitely not enough time to gather a dowry and pack Rebekah’s things. Her parents asked for ten days to prepare, but the servant was insistent that they leave immediately.
Rebekah would very likely be leaving her home and her family forever. So the parents asked her if she was willing to leave the next day. She said, “I will go.” (Genesis 25:50-67) She made the decision to marry a stranger, sight unseen, and began her long journey to Isaac and his homeland and his people.
As for Isaac, he loved her instantly, and it seems that their marriage was good and solid and filled with love. Life had not blessed them with the children they desperately wanted. They waited, and prayed, for twenty years. And then God answered their prayers and Rebekah conceived. Twin boys were born to them, another story in itself.
But in these two love stories, mine and Rebekah’s, there are common threads: love out of the blue; an unexpected, almost spur of the moment, decision to marry; an immediate journey far away from home; a long unrequited desire to have children; God in the center of it all.
I could describe my own relationship with Fred in much the same way as Rebekah might have described hers. There was love — instantaneous love — that came out of the blue, a quick decision to marry, a journey to a new state, the inability to conceive, and most importantly, God in the center of all of it.
Ours has been a beautiful love story, exciting at times and at other times mundane, joyful at times and at other times covered with sorrow. There was disappointment and hope along the way, and times of despair. All of it, we faced together — as one — hanging on to each other and to God. In spite of the risk of sounding syrupy religious, I could say that God wrote our love story.
Our journey has been long and winding, and I would be lying if I said the road we traveled had no rough places. Our journey, in fact, took us over broken roads strewn with jagged rocks, even boulders that stopped us in our tracks for a time. Still, it was a journey we loved.
Over our fifty years together, much has been said about our love story, from the first burst of our friends’ laughter and disbelief, to the comments that we didn’t seem at all like a good match. In the end, if there’s anything to be said, it is that ours has been a love constant and enduring. It was a soul match, actually, and I thank God for giving it to us.