Sixty Years of Marriage
It is not every day that I have the privilege of writing about a couple who has just celebrated sixty years of marriage.
Three weeks ago, MJ and I booked two weeks of vacation, boarded a plane in South Africa bound for the United States, and surprised her parents on the eve of their sixtieth wedding anniversary. Shock at our surprise visit turned to tears and hugs of joy as the reunion took place.
Three days later, the rest of MJ’s siblings and their spouses arrived and round two of the surprise shifted to second gear. I can still hear the sound of joyous laughter, remember the tears shed from grateful hearts, and the repetitive words of my father-in-law saying: “I don’t believe it, I don’t believe it!”
For the next five days, we celebrated the lives of a couple who have learned the power of togetherness. On numerous occasions, our table conversations would turn to questions about the keys to enduring sixty years of marriage. Most times, the responses given would end in tears not only by the ones responding but also by the ones asking the questions.
One of the things repeated on more than one occasion was the difference that Jesus made in their marriage, family, and home. Maman was the first to come to a personal relationship with Christ. Papa and the siblings noted the peace that Jesus brought to her life. Over the period of one year, everyone accepted Jesus as Lord of their lives. Papa was the last to surrender his heart, and today he has no shame in talking to friends and family about the difference Jesus makes in a life.
On a personal note, I have known my in-laws more years than I knew my parents. At the age of twenty, I lost my parents in a tragic car accident. I have known Papa and Maman Gravel for thirty-eight years, almost twice as long as I knew my parents when they walked this earth.
In a recent email, I said this to them: “Personally, I want to thank you for how you have accepted me into the family…I have been privileged to know you longer than I knew my parents. Thank you for your love, support, encouragement, and patience with me. I regret that neither you nor Marie-José ever got to know my parents, but I guarantee that they would have loved you both and loved your daughter whom I have had the privilege of being married to for over thirty-five years.”
So Papa and Maman, thank you for your example of a marriage that has Jesus at the center. Thank you for producing incredible children, one of whom I had the privilege of marrying. Thank you for your love, support and prayers for all your children, their spouses and your grandchildren. Thank you for the joy you bring to all of us. Thank you for being you!!
Until next time…