Twenty-five years ago today I woke up to the world a married man. Just 19 years old with a wife the ripe old age of 17, I set out on a journey that there’s no way I could have ever foreseen to take me where I am today.
We met at a church “home-coming” at the Center Hill Church of Christ. It was the first Sunday of May, 1983–the same year we married. The place was crowded as usual. In those days, “home-coming” services were a big deal. As she searched for seat, she found herself asking me, “Is someone sitting there?” She sat next to me. Needless to say, I don’t remember anything about the sermon that day. I do remember her hazel eyes, her cute freckles, and the fact that she looked great in that red and white candy-stripped dress. I thought she was the prettiest thing I’d ever laid eyes on.
After the services that day, as was the case at all home-comings, there was a huge “dinner on the ground.” For those of you not from the south, dinners on the ground were a sight to behold. There was always more food than could ever be eaten. Fried chicken, beans of every kind, casseroles, breads, and so much dessert that one could go home with a sugar rush lasting for days. I was so love struck that I couldn’t even eat. I sat in my car with mom talking about her and wanting to meet her so terribly bad. She stood in line to eat (I always kid her about that–she could eat), making eye contact with me over and over again.
After she ate, I saw her walking out to the cemetery. She later would tell me that she did that to see if I would speak to her. I saw that as my opportunity. As she walked by me, I told her that I was “dying” to know her name. We thought about that first line later and laughed about me “dying” to know her name in a cemetery. To be honest, I was so nervous I would have never thought of such a line.
We walked and talked for a while. Her niece was with her and we used her as a conversation piece. I told her that I would like to get to know her better and she gave me her phone number. I drove home that day with my little brother in the car with me. I don’t think that the wheels ever touched the ground. I was listening to Van Halen’s Eruption album on cassette tape–great driving music. I told my brother on the way home, “I will marry that girl!” He thought I was crazy, but somehow I knew it.
That night, after church, I went to her house. As I stepped out of my car, I smelled the worst smell I’d ever experienced. I thought, “something has died here.” I learned later that she lived directly in front of a chicken house. It was really bad.
We started dating that night. About three months later I asked her to marry me and three months after that she did. I’ve never regretted one minute of that decision. She has been the greatest blessing in my life. She has given me four wonderful children, all of which we are both very proud. She is the love of my life and my best friend.
I told her Monday night as we sat and ate dinner that this was my all-time favorite memory of my life. It was really a turning point for me that I did not fully understand. Because of her, I turned my life away from some things that I know would have led to a more destructive lifestyle. I am convinced that God worked in my life that day to focus me in the right direction. I will be forever grateful.
It’s so hard to believe that it’s been 25 years. When you say, “Silver Anniversary” I think of “old” people. My views have changed about that today. I don’t feel old. I feel as young as ever in so many ways. Inside of my mind, I’m still that love-struck teenage boy. I look at her today and I now see the truth that the preacher said during our wedding. He said, “You think today that you could never love each other more than you do right now, but your love will grow more and more if you keep God at the center of your marriage.” Man was he ever right.