On June 6, 2009 my parents celebrated 50 years of marriage. Fifty years! I remember when I was a little girl I would sit on the couch and look at my mother’s wedding album. I loved to take my time and savor each picture dreaming about the day when I would become a bride just like my mother. My parents looked so young. That’s because they were. My mom had just turned 20 and daddy was 24. They were “kids.” Mama was beautiful! And still is. Daddy was handsome. And still is. I wonder if they thought about spending 50 years together back on June 6, 1959.
They met at Camp Warren when mom was 11 or 12 and dad was a skinny young man of 15 or 16. Mom said that’s when she first saw dad when she was running at camp. She said he was just standing there with a pink shirt on that was rolled up at the sleeves. Mom was a bit of a tomboy and was not thinking about boys. It was not until she was 16 that she and dad would actually have an encounter. Mom and Dad’s courtship started at Benton Harbor High School during a basketball game. Dad asked Mom if he could walk her home after the game. Their courtship endured while Dad went off to Germany for the next three years. When Dad returned home he and Mom were married as he promised. My parents were not believers when they married. They were a young couple deeply in love and wanted to spend the rest of their lives together. A year later Mom was pregnant with yours truly and eleven months after I was born she gave birth to my brother. Two babies in one year! My Dad’s mother lived with us during the first six years of my life. Everyone in my family worked. Years later Dad, who hated alcohol and never enjoyed the taste of alcohol, was introduced to alcohol with some of his co-workers. While he initially never liked the taste, he soon acquired a taste for alcohol and eventually the taste turned into alcoholism. Mom and Dad’s marriage endured some very trying years when Dad’s drinking became habitual. Dad never hit my Mother or disrespected her with other women. However, he was a slave to alcohol. Mom decided to complete her college education in case she and Dad divorced she would be able to provide for my brother and me. My Dad says to this day that he was never going to leave Mom. They were committed forever.
The year of change for the Thomas household occurred in 1976. I was the first in my family to accept Christ as my personal Savior. After my conversion, I witnessed to my brother that night and two days later Pastor Andrew Phillips led him to the Lord. My Mother said she saw the change in my brother and me. She visited the church to make sure that we had not joined a cult. Eventually, Mom heard the gospel and a few months later became a believer. Finally in 1978 my father became a believer. My father stopped drinking without AA or going through withdrawals. My father stated, “I’m done with alcohol” and he was for good. Our family went through some challenging transformation and discipleship. Some easy and some hard but God saw us through. Through it all my parents’ commitment endured.
In 2008, my father received a kidney at Mayo Clinic and spent the next four months between the hospital and Gift of Life Transplant House in Rochester, MN. Mom never left his side, enduring each challenge along with my father. She became the consummate care taker. With mom’s encouragement and love, dad recovered and is in very good health today. 2009 was to be their year to enjoy celebrating their 50th and do some traveling. However 2009 was proving to be another difficult year for my parents as life was to deal them another challenge. My mother went for a routine colonoscopy, which she wasn’t due to have for another two years. Dad has to have his colonoscopy every three years because of his kidney transplant and he encouraged mom to have hers done around the same time. Thank God, she listened because she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of stage four colon cancer. Now it was Dad’s turn to be the caretaker. Mom had surgery on September 1, 2009 and again on Oct. 20 at Mayo Clinic’s St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester, MN. She will have to have chemotherapy after she heals from her surgeries. Dad is turning out to be a wonderful caretaker.
My parents took their vows seriously when they said before God and man “in sickness and in health.” Their love and commitment, though faced with challenges and on the brink of divorce, endured throughout the years. Once Christ became the center of their relationship their committed became stronger and more purposeful. I saw my parent’s love grow deeper for the Lord and for each other. I am thankful for my parent’s enduring legacy of love.
I may never get married but my desire is that I apply the same commitment my parents have towards each other towards my relationship with Christ. May my desire for Christ endure and grow stronger throughout the years. And that despite the trials that come my way I will remain faithful and true to Him who is the giver of eternal life. I pray that just as my parent’s relationship matured throughout the years that my relationship to Christ will mature to the point that I will be like Him in every way possible. Just as my father anticipated his beautiful bride walking down the aisle, adorned in white at Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church that I, too, will anticipate the Lord’s return with preparation, eagerness, excitement and anticipation. Finally I want to hear my Savior say, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.”
“This is my beloved this is my friend”
Song of Solomon 5:17
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