Tuesday, May 10, 2011
I was sitting in the waiting room of a salon a few weeks ago when an elderly "Betty White look-alike" came in and sat down next to me. She was adorable with her flushed cheeks, Dr. Scholl's loafers and manicured fingers! When she sat down, she folded her pretty hands together and sat as regal as a queen...I would've said hello, but to be honest, she intimidated me! So, I sat there with Lillie Anna and waited for Rauly to finish getting her hair-cut.
While we waited, Lillie Anna worked her sweet magic (babies are always great conversation starters, aren't they!) and got Mrs. Betty (that wasn't her name, but for the sake of the story, that's who she'll be) to open up and converse with her. Before I knew it, she and I were in a conversation about her life. She quietly shared with me about her great-grandchildren, her grand-children, her children...and then finally, her husband. She shared with me that they'd gotten married when she was 15, and had gotten pregnant when she was 16! They proceeded to have SIX children (God bless them!). Her husband worked many odd jobs until he finally started up his own business which brought them from backwoods Alabama to Florida. So much of her life (minus having 6 kids of course!) I could relate to...getting married young, struggling financially, the stress of owning your business, moving away from everything you know,...I felt like I was nodding my head with wide eyes for about 15 minutes as I silently related.
Nothing she said was negative...not a single word, but still, something compelled me to say "so I'm assuming that it wasn't all sunshine and roses?". She quickly looked at me and began chuckling...she might as well have "tsked" at me! As she shook her head no, and patted my leg with her gnarled but beautiful dainty fingers, she said: "Honey, the first 10 years were spent just trying to learn how to live together! When people tell me they have a perfect marriage, I laugh at them and ask them what in the world that looks like!"
I was afraid to ask what happened to the man she had chosen to walk this life with...everything she had said had been in past tense. And as if she was reading my mind, she gently told me that her husband had died in 2004 of a massive heart attack. He died instantly. I sat there...looking at this sweet, gentle woman who had lived such a full life and been married to the same man for 50 years, and my eyes flooded with tears. Not because I felt sorry for her, but because I was so thankful God had allowed our paths to cross.
I believe the Lord wanted Mrs. Betty's sweet story to be shared. Her life was a reminder of what marriage is meant to look like. A partnership. A commitment. A contract. Till death do we part. A relationship that is filled with support and encouragement, where you pull in the same direction. A give and take. A steadfast love that is rich and abundant in forgiveness!
I didn't want to leave the salon that afternoon and I've thought about Mrs. Betty ever since our little chat. I wish I'd have gotten her name and number...the wisdom she had to share is immense, I'm sure, and I would've loved to have visited with her again. Who knows...maybe we'll bump in to each other in the future, but if not, I'm so grateful for the few minutes that she shared her story with me.
So, today - on Chad and my 9th wedding anniversary, I celebrate our marriage! A marriage that is far from perfect and holds room for improvement. But also, a marriage that has two committed partners who actively love one another (and like one another...that's always a plus!). :-)