Tuesday, January 27, 2015

For the man I married. All of them.

Today I went for a run with my 13 year old granddaughter Katie. I mentioned that tomorrow was my anniversary and that her granddad and I will celebrate 41 years of marriage. This started me thinking...
Katie is five years and one month younger than I was on my wedding day. How could this even be possible?  But it's true. As an eighteen year old I had no doubt that I was old enough. Steve was twenty. In 1974 in New York as a male he still had to have his mother sign for him. When we told my mom we wanted to get married she immediately thought I was pregnant.
My life at that time was in flux. When my mother remarried she moved away and I went to live in another town. I hated it and my sister and her husband were gracious enough to let me move in with them and share a room with baby Jesse. For $10 a week I could eat all the Kraft mac'n' cheese my little vegetarian body could handle. My sister was less than three years older than me and she already was married with two children so I really didn't think myself young. My brother got married when he was eighteen and his bride was only sixteen!
Funny thing.. with all the divorces in our country...there are none in my family. Digger has been married to Kathy for 47 years. Janice to Gene for I think 45 years and I have been married to Steve for 41 years. I am proud of us. Of all of us.
We grew up as children of divorce. We knew the pain of  being fatherless children. It was hard for Mom and hard for us. We were fiercely protective of each other and of our family as a unit.
All of us have had our hard times in our marriages.   But  all of us always knew that family was still worth protecting and fighting for.
I am not married to the boy I said " I do." to on that cold January afternoon. He is not  married to that same girl. That girl who wore a $25 antique dress that her mother found in a country store display case. A dress she really didn't much like but she was too timid to hurt her mother's feelings. A girl who really wanted the whole white veil thing but since her mother told her it would not look right did  not say she really wanted it. That girl was someone I used to know. And someone that visits me sometimes when I am not feeling confident  to speak words that I am feeling. But she is mostly gone. Mostly.
The boy with the shoulder length mass of blond hair who rode his motorcycle through the driveway of my high school and popped wheelies as I watched from my earth science class..well I haven't seen him in a while either. Maybe once in a while when entertaining grandchildren that boyish daredevil will show his face.
But the truth is ..in the last 41 years we have each been married to many different versions of ourselves.
The year before Gretchen was born we were the kids living in a basement apartment with two old twin beds pushed together. We had an old box spring that we used for a sofa and a china closet witth no china. Steve bounced his motor cycle down the concrete steps so he could work on it in the comfort of our sparsely furnished living room. We drank cheap wine out of the bottle and entertained in the back yard with a bedspread laid out on the lawn for guests to sit on.

Then we became the new parents..I was still only 19 . But with the birth of our first child we entered a new season. We evolved and started to grow up. We even got some furniture. It was never new. We got what we could and made due with what we had.
Once at the NJ state fair I saw a very expensive table set. I don't know how we did it but we bought it. It was $500! My grandchildren now are growing up around that same table that their mama grew up at.
And so the years passed and who we were changed and changed over and over again. But what did not change was our belief that marriage and family are worth investing in and worth fighting for.
What also changed was not only who we are but 'whose' we are.
It was three years after we got married that my sister Janice started to talk to me about Jesus. The same timid girl who could not tell her mother she wanted a veil could not tell her husband she was turning to Jesus. I would go to the library and borrow a bible and then hide it so Steve would not know. Somehow..I thought that he would think I was very 'uncool'. One year later he would also come to faith in Christ.
At this point we started to become who we are today. Everything else in our past was to bring us to that point. Any confidence I have now that I lacked before is a direct result of God and my husband loving me through all my weakness and all my failures and being there to tell me I am still loved. I can love others because I have been loved when I was at my most unlovable places.
The man Steve has become is direct result of the decision he made in 1978 to be a Christ follower and to love me as Jesus loved the Church.
When we have been married 51 years..well I guess we will be a different man and woman than we are today. Life will happen. We will truly  be that much closer to becoming the perfected 'us'. Finally when we done changing with the seasons of life the whole 'til death do we part' thing will only be a pause until we become who we were always created to be.
I am thankful tonight to have been on this life journey with Steve. I am thankful for who we were and for who we are becoming. "Grow old along with me. The best is yet to be."  
Steve, this is your anniversary card..since I lost the one I bought for you :)

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