Forty years. I can scarce recall what happened yesterday let alone four decades ago and yet on June 2nd I will have been married forty years. I remember the day for the most part. I remember I stressed over the fact that it rained the day before and the clouds looked ominous early that morning, but the rain never fell. In fact, the sun radiated warmth all day and sitting on my parents' deck, trying to calm myself for the afternoon festivities, I actually got a little sun-burned. It didn't matter. I was getting married and nothing could spoil the day.
I don't actually remember getting into my wedding dress, or the short drive to the church in my father's big, blue Oldsmobile Cutlass. The photographer took a picture of me being helped out of the car by my Dad, who reached for my hand and smiled at me. If it weren't for that picture, I might have wondered if I had somehow been Star Trek-like transported to the church. I don't remember walking up the stairs of the church with my best friend leading the way. As the only bridesmaid, she was the centre of attention as she walked the aisle on the arm of my fiancé's best friend. I remember we had to wait, my Dad and I, behind a closed door while my bridesmaid and groomsman strolled casually down to the front of the church. Then it was our turn. Dad kissed me on the cheek. "Ready?" he said. I must have nodded because somehow I found myself at the front of the church and standing next to the man I was going to marry.
I know the church was full of people, but I was too nervous to acknowledge any of them. I don't remember the Pastor's words. I was thankful someone had the presence of mind to tape the entire service on a cassette tape so I could listen to it months later. I remember looking at Charles, who looked nervous, which was odd, because he was always so stoic and unflustered. He smiled and my heart melted. We would be okay. We had no idea what the next day would hold, or the week, or months and finally years ahead of us would look like for us. We held hands, exchanged our vows and pledged before God and our families and friends that we would love one another "'till death do us part". It was enough.
Forty years. 2 miscarriages. 3 children. 4 grandchildren. Numerous pets. 5 homes. Countless cars. Job changes. Health scares. Career changes. Camping trips. Family vacations. Holidays. Forty Christmases, Easters, and Thanksgivings. Forty years of memory-making. Forty years of holding hands, praying together, and leaning on God for our daily bread. Forty years claiming His promises, and letting Him lead and guide us. Constantly repeating the life verse we chose together forty years ago: "In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps." Proverbs 16:9.
As retirement looms ahead for us, we are not content with sitting in rocking chairs and wiling away the days in relax mode. We are celebrating our fortieth anniversary going on a Mediterranean Cruise. It's a first for us, one we hope will mark the first of many travel adventures together in our future. We love exploring new places and experiencing new things.
We are blessed that all three of our children and their families live close by so we can continue to memory-make with them, indulge our grandbabies, and watch them grow up. We will be celebrating the wedding of our youngest daughter next year. It will be a blessed event. I'm sure there will be other momentous events in our future.
As we set sail in a few months I can't help but think that we are charting a new course, my husband and I. Retirement is like sailing into new territory. What sites will we see? What will we experience? Who will we meet? What new memories will we make? We've had our share of many peaceful cruises on life's ocean, intermingled with some unexpected tidal surges and rough waves over these past forty years. Still, we keep walking hand in hand, looking forward, full speed ahead, our eyes focused on the horizon and praying for calm waters in the years ahead. I look forward to where God will direct us over the next forty years!
Lynn Dove is the award-winning author, of the YA “Wounded Trilogy”- a contemporary Christian fiction series with coming-of-age themes. A wife, mom, grandmother, and free-lance writer with articles published in several magazines and anthologies including Chicken Soup for the Soul books, her blog, “Journey Thoughts” is a Canadian Christian Writing Award winner. Readers may connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and at lynndove.com