I’ve been married a l-o-o-o-n-g time. I’ve been married my entire life minus 18 years.
I look back on who I was when David and I got married, and sometimes I laugh out loud remembering the things I thought and what I said. I must have been a royal pain in the keester. I’m surprised anyone from that era will even speak to me today.
Fortunately, I’ve changed quite a bit. It’s hard to relate Carol at 18 to Carol at 61. I’m all grown up now; past growing up, really. I’m entering the elderly department. New expectations.
The new expectations are from others. I know I look my age, so there’s no doubt of the phase of life I’m in. I’m recovering from knee replacement, so I know that I look kinda pathetic taking one stair at a time and being very careful about it.
One of my biggest fears is falling. Carol at 18 or even Carol at 55 didn’t have that fear. It goes with the elderly department, which, in my mind, is always accessed by elevator.
You don’t realize how long hallways can be and how daunting stairs appear until you somehow can’t manage to traverse them.
Growing old means lots of changes. I wonder how many couples stay together because it’s just not worth the trouble of parting? I always told David that if we ever got a divorce, he was getting the kids! We joke that that was the only thing keeping us together, and now we’re staying because of the cats.
When I was 18 and David was 20, we repeated the marriage vows with no comprehension whatsoever of what they meant or how we were going to live them out.
When we reached our 25th anniversary, we renewed our vows, this time knowing what they meant.
Or at least I thought so.
Seven years ago, my world collapsed. David was diagnosed with severe congestive heart failure, with the real possibility that his heart would suddenly stop. He was a workaholic who had retired the year before so he could run a business of lawn care, stump grinding, odd jobs, part-time at a hardware store. He loved it, being his own boss, doing what he enjoyed.
But on that day in February 2006, his world collapsed, too. He had no idea that he had heart problems. He is blessed in that he has few symptoms. On paper, he was a wreck, but in person, he looked fine.
So now we find ourselves living with this illness and around this illness and through this illness. It defines us in many ways. We have to work around it a lot. Our dreams have changed and will continue to change as we face each crisis as it comes.
If we renewed our vows now after 42 years of marriage, would I know what they meant? Would I realize what I was getting myself into? Would I even bother to voice them if I thought I wasn’t going to follow through and do them?
My answer: I would know better what they meant, but I wouldn’t believe that I knew them completely. I was full of pride early on because I thought I was in control. Even at the 25-year mark, I thought I could manipulate any situation to fit our needs.
That’s almost laugh-out-loud funny. What a fool I was! Pride goeth before a fall, and I learned that the hard way.
David and I have stayed together all these years because we love and respect each other, and we have fought hard at times to keep our marriage afloat. People can’t go through these life altering events without being changed.
That’s what the vows possess. Even as we change, it’s their power that stays with us. God uses that power to sustain us, “us” meaning both, not one at a time, but us together.
So be it for a l-o-o-o-n-g time…