Posted tagged ‘anniversary’

When You Journey Together For 39 Years

July 29, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                        July 29, 2018

                          

It was a hot day in Clarendon Hills, Illinois when Carol and I stood at the front of Community Presbyterian Church and said our wedding vows to one another. It was July 28, 1979 and the baby of the Wolfe family was marrying the middle child of the Faletti clan. I had graduated form Northern Baptist Theological Seminary less than two months before that, began a ministry position at First Baptist Church in Davison, Michigan, and was entering a new phase of my life that could optimistically be entitled “New Discoveries”, but more accurately be called “Clueless!”

We said our vows to one another and headed down the aisle towards the exit. When a bride and groom leave a wedding ceremony they never know what they’re headed into. No, I’m not referring to the reception and honeymoon. I’m talking about the journey of walking into life together. The starry eyes of saying “I do!” soon enter the planned and unplanned happenings of a shared life. 

39 years later Carol and I have said goodbye to each one of our parents, my dad being the final one to depart this past February. We’ve had one dog and five cats. In order of their stays with us there has been Eusebius (C.B), our only experiment into the canine world, Tickles (who lived to be 20 and a 1/2), Prince Charming Kisses, Duke, Katie Katie Cocoa Puffs, and Princess Maliboo (Boo). Our daughters always named the cats, in case you’re wondering!

We’ve lived in two apartments and four houses in the 39 years. We still remember the couple that lived in the apartment beside us the first few months of marriage. They were rather loud as they engaged in their romantic activity. Carol and I thought that maybe there was something wrong with us since we didn’t make noises that sounded like someone was in pain.  We soon got over it!

The journey took us to three different hospital delivery rooms to experience the incredible blessings of God upon us of three children. The birth of our  child, Kecia Corin, involved a Code Blue as she had swallowed some fluid. I stood beside Carol’s bed in the delivery room holding her hand and praying as they worked on our first-born just a few feet to the left. To hear that first scream trumpeting from her lungs was an answer to prayer and reason for praise.

We’ve lost friends that have gone on to Glory, walked the final days of life with several of them, and cried the tears of heartache. We’ve also said goodbye to so many people because of relocation from one place of ministry to the next. The toughest part of ministry is leaving, knowing that the people whose lives have been intertwined with yours for so long will no longer be those that you walk with. We moved from the certainty of what was to the uncertainty of what is to come. 

Carol and I have journeyed together for so long that we know the story that is about to be shared by one of us without even a clue as to what is about to be said. We know our tendencies and our bad habits- my desire for Starbucks coffee in the morning and her Diet Coke from Kum and Go, with a few ounces of regular Coke mixed into it; my snore and her punch in my side; her desire for something sweet while I like something salty. 

When we exited that church sanctuary 39 years ago we didn’t know the valleys we would have to cross or the exhilaration of the mountains we climbed. We weren’t thinking about 39 years when we galloped down the aisle. I wasn’t thinking about much at all except what was to come later on that night! 

It has been 39 years where we’ve trusted in the Lord, but, quite frankly, at other times we haven’t trusted in the Lord. The grace of God has been a dominant part of our journey.

And we love each other more today than every before. Thank you, Lord!

38 Years!

July 28, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                             July 28, 2017

                                         

38 is a weird number…illegal for any basketball jersey except the NBA! Rarely…okay, never requested by one of my middle school football players! I went and asked Google who was the best NFL player to wear the number 38 and got George Rogers of the New Orleans Saints. A good player, but not exactly someone who easily comes to mind! #39 is Larry Csonka, that one I could remember!

But today is a special 38. It’s our 38th wedding anniversary. On July 28, 1979 Carol Falettu and I joined hands at the front of the sanctuary of Community Presbyterian Church in Clarendon Hills, Illinois. Much of the day was a blur for me. I knew what I was doing…and yet, I didn’t know what I was doing! You know what I mean? Kind of like when a young boy goes in for his first kiss. He knows what he’s doing, and yet he doesn’t…and back in my day there were no YouTube videos for instruction!

I met her at the front of the sanctuary. My seminary roommate and friend, Randy Saunders, performed the ceremony. Two weeks later I officiated at his wedding. Unfortunately, a few years later he and Marlene split up.

My six groomsmen lined up to my left as I looked down the aisle. David “Hugo” Hughes stood beside me as my best man. A year later I’d preside over his wedding ceremony. A couple hundred people were there…I think! Doug Loomer sang and played his guitar, like we were two flower children merging together. I remember Don Francisco’s “The Wedding Song”, a Summer of ’79 wedding favorite!

Carol was radiant as her dad escorted her down the aisle. I could tell she was nervous and excited, and maybe wondering what in the world she was doing marrying a Baptist minister who was going to move her to Michigan? Just three years before she had been teaching pre-school deaf children in a Victoria, Texas school. She couldn’t have envisioned this day three years later when Rev. William D. Wolfe would promise her the moon…or, at least, his devotion!

I brought…not much into the marriage. A ’66’ Chrysler Newport given to me by my parents, a bunch of seminary books, leisure suits, and a toaster. When I had graduated from Northern Baptist Seminary about seven weeks earlier I didn’t even have to rent a U-Haul to transport my belongings to my first full-time ministry position in Davison, Michigan. Carol was the one with the wealth! She even had a couch, a twin-size mattress, and a twelve inch black-and-white TV! She was loaded! Her Mustang Fastback was hot, just like she was! In essence, we were a two-car family. We didn’t have two of anything else except toothbrushes and forks, but we had two vehicles!

On that wedding day we looked into each other’s eyes, glistened over with moistness, and vowed words to each other that dealt with devotion, perseverance, wanting the best for one another, and journeying hand in hand for the rest of our life together. We were naive’ and completely in love, but not completely naive’! I was marrying the third daughter of an Italian-American father and North Dakotan Mom. In my family “whine” was prominent at the dinner table growing up as we surveyed the dinner of neck bones, green beans, and boiled potatoes. In Carol’s family “wine” was prominent at dinner, and I don’t think she ever had to look at a pot of neck bones!

An unusual union, the two of us, but it’s worked in the midst of church drama and church celebrations, being surrounded by saintly people and people who ain’t! One of those saints, Rex Davis, loved a certain restaurant in Colorado Springs. When he passed away last fall at 95 and I was asked to do the funeral service, his family gave me a gift card to that favorite restaurant. We’ll celebrate our anniversary there tonight, thinking of him and all the other people who have graced our lives in this journey that has more often than not resembled Lake Wobegon comedy instead of Chicago drama!

Three kids, all grown and pursuing their purposes in life…three grandkids, who seem to have more energy than Colorado Springs Utilities…and an abundance, a multitude of friends who we cherish and love!  Marriage is not just two people. It is two people taking the lead in a caravan of hundreds who have journeyed with them.

Both Carol and I would undoubtedly say we have been, and are, blessed! We have now been married sixty per cent of our lives to one another! There will be no “whine”, or neck bones, at our table tonight, but perhaps a bit of “wine!”

Our Father

June 20, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                    June 19, 2014

 

   (I’m doing a month-long writing test with WordPress.Com. Each day we are given a different assignment. Today’s was to open a book to page 29 and write a blog about the first words you see. In fact, we were to write it in letter form.)

 

Pops!

I know it’s weird, but Your name came up in my reading today. Who would have thought your name would be on page 29 of the novel Divergent!

Crazy!

Actually it was “our father” in the second paragraph that got me thinking about you. Since you celebrated your eighty-sixth birthday yesterday perhaps my eyes focused more on finding those words.

I thought I lot about you. The Omaha Steaks should arrive in a couple of days. Living in Colorado so far away from your place within a stone’s throw of the Ohio River makes me a little sad. I wish I could have been there to celebrate with you. Omaha Steaks are about as fitting a tribute as I can find.

Your hamburgers are still the best IN THE WORLD! I have not found any one who can contest that claim. It’s a family memory. My kids miss them just as much as I do.

My sister and brother will always remember special things about you when we say those words: Our father!

We will always remember your tendency to think before you spoke. It was as if you were sorting the words in your head like Scrabble letters, looking for the right combination that would be clear and wise.

Let’s be honest! Mom used up most of the words that were spoken in our household each day, but, Dad, when you spoke it was listened to. Not that we didn’t listen to Mom…just maybe a little less attentively.

That’s another thing that we will always remember about you, Dad! How you honored Mom, especially in the last few years of her life when she was uncomfortable, confused, and sometimes demanding. You sat by her bedside, fed her dinner, changed her when she soiled herself, and listened carefully to the mumbled words she would speak. Your love for 65 years was evident.

Continue to know that your children and grandchildren love you deeply. I wish I was sitting on the couch with you today watching the Reds on TV, talking about Kentucky basketball, and stories that have been told and retold.

We love you, Pops! Your the best!

Fed Ex me a hamburger, would you?

 

Your Son,

Bill Wolfe

65 Years of Journeying

August 13, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                              August 13, 2013

     Today is the 65th wedding anniversary of my mom and dad. Not many people can say they’ve been married to the same person for 65 years. It’s one of those things that people respond to with wide-open eyes of unbelief and ask “How long did you say???”

My mom and dad “lasted” this long because…because…here it comes…they loved each other and love each other deeply.

The problem is that few people today know what ingredients go into a recipe for love. It’s not always the warm fuzzies that people think it tastes like.

Let me tell you what I believe has gone into my parents’ marriage.

The Salt of Shared Pain- I remember hearing conversations of loss. When words left their sting on my mom, my dad would be the listening ear, the agent of comfort. As they went through the difficulties of losing parents and siblings to death they cried on one another’s shoulders. Pain can often be lonely business. It can cause us to retreat into a place of isolation, but Mom and Dad walked through it together.

The Cinnamon of Intimacy- My parents did not shy away from embracing or kissing one another in front of their three kids. One of the things I remember my mom saying to my dad quite often was “Kiss me, Slobber Lips! I can swim!” I crack up when I think about that still. They conveyed through their hugs and words that they loved pne another. It seems that this usually happened right after dinner, which takes in the next ingredient.

The Sauce of Servanthood- I don’t remember that dinner was the responsibility of just one of them. Although my mom did most of the cooking, Dad would be involved in setting the table, or washing the dishes (unless it fell to one of the kids). When we had mashed potatoes he always got the assignment. Whenever we had liver and onions, not one of our favorites, he was tasked with the cooking. If it was fried chicken or cooking a pot of garden fresh green beans, it was Mom’s turn to shine. The smooch after dinner was almost like a kiss of appreciation and partnership. They had finished the day of work and home duties together.

The Cream of Commitment- Like cream in a soup that filters through the whole batch, my parents committed to one another…for better or for worse…for richer, or, for most of the time…poorer…in sickness and in health (That is the everyday journey right now!). I had never heard of the word divorce until my Uncle George got married. And then when he got remarried to someone else I didn’t understand it, because Mom and Dad were always together. It didn’t matter when the income was barely able, if possible, to meet the bills. It just meant a couple of more meals of beans. I can’t even picture one of my parents not being there, because they have been…for sixty-five years!

The Vanilla of Spirituality- Some people see the word vanilla and they think it indicates blandness, dullness, but the ingredient of vanilla is precious. In lay terms it’s expensive! My parents marriage has been a dance with God. I’ve never known a time in my life when I didn’t go to church…except for about a year in college when Bedside Baptist gained a new member, and I was enjoying the Sunday morning messages delivered by Reverend Sheets. I was raised in church, but my parents modeled Christ-like behavior and lives. My dad’s meal-time grace was heart-felt. Mom’s involvement in choir and a women’s missionary circle were exercised expressions of her Christian walk. They sat in worship together Sunday morning and Sunday evening. I wanted to be a Methodist growing up because I knew their children were home watching Walt Disney while I was sitting in a church pew. Mom and Dad always sat together in church, side-by-side, unless they had a kid between them that needed to be “secured!”

The Sugar of Simplicity- Mom and Dad were not defined by their possessions, their home, the cars they drove. They seemed to like American-built cars back in the day, but that didn’t matter that much. Whatever they had they took extremely good care of it. Vacations were spent back on my grandparents’ farm in Oil Springs, Kentucky, and that usually meant helping Mamaw and Papaw Helton with some of the farm chores. Relaxing was sitting in one of the front porch swings watching the occasional cars drive past. That simplicity, however, was special. Watching The Ed Sullivan Show on Sunday night after getting home from church (still a little disgruntled about the Disney thing!), while eating popcorn…that was a picture of our family. That was special and meaningful.

The recipe has several other ingredients that have been put into he soup, but, I guess what I’m saying is that my parents’ 65 year marriage shouldn’t be the oddity. Is it wrong to think that it should be the norm?

Would the world be a little less chaotic and topsy-turvy if my mom and dad weren’t see as being unusual?