In his poem Rabbi Ben Ezra, poet Robert Browning began with these words:
Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be;
The last of life, for which the first was made;
Our times are in his hand
Who saith, “A whole I planned.
Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!”
While the rest of the poem would not be considered a romantically inclined work, those memorable opening lines seem entirely apropos within the context of soul-mates pledging their lifelong devotion. I’ve always loved these lines and considered them a measure for what I wanted my marriage to be!
Return with me momentarily to December 20, 1969 … There’s a small gathering in a small church building in a small town in Arkansas. On that day, my Beloved and I celebrated our wedding day! Wow! So young! So crazy in love! So terribly naive! Today, we’re forty-four years married.
Together, my Beloved and I grew up … we thought we were adults when we married, but as with so many other things, we were grossly misinformed! We finished school (undergrad and masters for him, undergrad for me), expanded our educations just through daily living and some seemingly hopeless struggles, endured both the joys and heartaches attached to parenting four children, and now … we’ve grown old(er) together, enjoying this adventure of God’s goodness and mercy, while humbly anticipating what lies ahead.
This week, our eldest grandson (22) told me what he has observed about marriage: the people who stay married are the ones who commit (long before tying the knot) to stay married regardless, no matter what.
I agree. Occasionally, I joke with people about my pragmatic outlook … I’ve invested too much time civilizing one husband; why would I ever want to start over? In truth, I can’t imagine wanting to spend a day of my life without him. He made my heart go pitter-pat when we’d known each other only a short time … and that’s still true today, more than forty-four years after our first introduction.
This sonnet pretty much sums up how smitten I was, how smitten I am, and how smitten I expect to be, for all the future years God allows us to walk hand in hand on this plane.
Considering this Christmas season when gift-giving is a focus, I acknowledge one of my most precious gifts (then and now) is the man whose name and life I share.
Oh, just in case you’re thinking about an anniversary gift? Here’s an odd one. Apparently for the 44th, the gift of record is − wait for it − groceries!
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