Once there was a boy who loved a girl. And she loved him. They had hardly anything, but they pooled what they had and began a life together...a voyage of discovery...an adventure. In the beginning, there was a succession of apartments and tiny little houses, until they found THE house...the one where they would raise all their children...the one they would add to, and renovate and rearrange for 42 years...the one that would host parties, and gatherings, and commemorations, and mournings...life.
The boy worked very hard. For a long time he worked two jobs, and he farmed, and he volunteered his time at church. The girl worked hard, too. For a while, she worked outside the home..until baby number two was born. Then she chose to give all she was to her family. She sewed, gardened, and canned. She kissed boo boos and read stories and wrapped warm towels around the children's necks when they were sick and made them feel safe and warm.
The girl and the boy taught their children many things. They taught them that God was the center around which the rest of life orbited. They taught them to work hard. And, they taught them to sing. My, how they loved to sing! They sang at church, at home around the piano, in the car, in the cornfield. They sang everywhere. And they laughed. They laughed a lot. They traveled many places and saw many things. The boy and the girl were curious and they taught their children to be curious too. It was a wonderful gift.
The girl was so curious that when her children were all in school, she decided to go to college. She had not had the opportunity to do this when she was younger. It was hard for her family at first because they were spoiled. They liked being her everything. But, the girl was very brave and she persevered and her family was very proud of her.
One day the children the boy and girl had loved and taught grew up and married and left their home. Their family was growing and getting smaller all at the same time. It wasn't long until those children had some children of their own. This was so much fun for the boy and the girl. They loved playing with their grandchildren and watching them grow. The grandchildren learned about the things that made Mamaw and Papaw's house special: Big breakfasts of gravy and biscuits (or chocolate gravy and biscuits), going to see the cows, riding the four wheeler or the John Deere or the Jeep, Mamaw's home-made grape jelly, Papaw's drink (inside joke), jumping off the diving board, playing with cousins....... The boy and the girl and their children and their grandchildren laughed together and cried together. They prayed together and partied together. They worked together and vacationed together. And they loved....
The boy and the girl liked this new stage of their lives. They retired from their jobs, but not from life. He read the paper and she read books. She grew flowers in the summer and made quilts in the winter and he built things, and fixed things, and made hay, and took care of his cattle. They made new friends. They took care of their parents. They enjoyed their children and grandchildren. They traveled to many places: Hawaii, Alaska, the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, New England, and on and on. Theirs was a life rich in memory. And the boy still loved the girl, and the girl still loved the boy. It was a deep, rich love that had had many years to ripen and season. It was a love that had spilled over on others. And still they love....
On Sunday, my parents celebrated their forty-fifth wedding anniversary. It is an astounding landmark. I looked around me at the family that has grown up around them and I wondered if they had any idea, all those years ago, what would become of them. And I wondered what would have happened....if a boy...had never loved a girl...
First row: Ethan, Samuel, Tammy (holding Tucker), Joshua, Mike and Anna.
Back row: Crystal, Andrew, Marvin, Candy, Tabitha, Mom, Jake and Dad.
*I am taking the photo and Kelsey was not with us.
*Originally published 16 July 2008