It was this day – forty years ago. Holding my dad’s arm, together we walked down the aisle at Calvary Presbyterian Church. Me, focused on that guy, soon to be my husband. Dad, preparing to give away his only daughter to the young man waiting. The young man? Nervous as all get-out.
“With all our blessings, her mother and I,” my dad replied to the pastor’s traditional “Who gives this woman?” Dad placed my hand into Ron’s.
Woman? I was barely 20 years old, making a monumental life commitment. Vows before God and witnesses – to love and cherish ’til death-us-do-part. Little did I know what those vows would mean. But, marriage was the most natural thing I looked toward from my childhood. I welcomed it. I embraced it. And, I meant to spend the rest of my life with that young man I met in high school.
Forty years. It came so fast. “They” said it would. Ron and I naturally talked of it in future terms, this growing old together. Would we be “that” couple still holding hands when we reached our winter years? And, here we are, closer to winter than we could imagine.
How have these forty years grown-us-up? How have they shaped us? Following here, is a small glimpse, through my lens:
Our first 10 years gave us:
- Ron’s career path – Graduating from Portland State in Business, he then completed the requirements to receive his Certified Public Accountant
- We took on cooking at the coast for Young Life’s Breakaway Lodge for a summer and future weekends – bringing along the kids as they entered the picture
- Ron, together with four others, formed their own little Bluegrass band
- Mt. St. Helens erupts, and we purchase our first little one-bedroom bungalow
- And then, we were pregnant with twins!
- The babies were just 9 months old when we all flew for the first time – ever – north, to Alaska
- We soon sell our first home, purchase our second bungalow – during the worst housing market EVER
- By 1986 – Five kids blessed our family – four daughters and a son
Our second decade reveals:
- A third home – a craftsman – we are settled
- Our sixth child, a son, born a year after our move
- We can’t go to the world, so we bring the world to us = Foreign high school exchange students live with us from places like Japan and Estonia
- Refugees from Russia arrive in Portland – we host a family of eight for 6 weeks – all with just one bathroom – don’t ask
- We immerse into life of Boy Scouts, Swim Team and Baseball, Church, Home school
- Beyond the usual family vacations, Ron travels with our eldest son to Peru for 3 weeks
- On separate trips, each of our three eldest daughters attend summer “boot camp”
- We nearly lose a daughter from a ruptured appendix
Then, our third decade’s charm:
- Ron falls from a ladder, breaking his pelvis – launching him into his own CPA practice
- I take a job – first as volunteer, then as Director Assistant – at the Pregnancy Resource Center/Lloyd Center
- Portland Parks swimming becomes work opportunity for our teen kids
- I suffer a near fatal “day” surgery
- The kids suddenly aren’t kids anymore -Air Force para-rescue training, college at various Universities…life skills carry them into their own vocation as wives, husbands, parents, photographers, artists, managers, coaches and more…The Next Generation – Launched
- Then, the world – some travel to places like Central Asia, Argentina and Rwanda
- Four daughters, four weddings in as many years – a 5th, our son, soon follows
- The empty nest
- China for three months
- Our home remains a “Guest House” for the traveler – whether in transition, visiting from another part of the world, or visiting our fine city
- A cruise to Alaska
Marriage encompasses more than just the two of us. From the beginning, we purposed to deepen in our love of Christ and His Church, together. This poured over while raising our children to realize the same Hope as they grew. A bond deeper than sight exists to this day.
Even the un-planned events, such as a broken pelvis, a daughter nearly dying, employment uncertainties, drew us together rather than fracture. This doesn’t mean these weren’t difficult, difficult times – but, we chose to love and cherish ’til death parts us.
Marriage – an image of sacrificial love. No 50-50. Just day-to-day, moment-by-moment giving oneself for the sake of the other.
Isn’t this our model – Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends?
Of course, if the reader is wise – read between the lines:
For the Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He knows your going through this great wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you. You have lacked nothing ~ Deuteronomy 2