When my first wife, Cindy, and I celebrated our silver wedding anniversary in 1994 I was proud of the occasion. We were young when we married ̶̶ Cindy was 18 and I was 21 ̶ and some folks hinted we were too young. Most young marriages go through some tough times; we certainly did. But, by golly, we made it to 25.
After the 25th anniversary life went on and about 10 years ago I started thinking about our golden wedding anniversary in 2019. When I was a kid our family attended golden anniversary receptions for what seemed to be really old folks and I remember the excitement surrounding the events.
Any plans I had considered for our 50th anniversary ended when Cindy died suddenly and unexpectedly in January 2013.
We hardly had two nickels to rub together when we were married and our honeymoon consisted of three days in Chicago in a hotel that had traded advertising for guest rooms with my radio station employer.
I tried to make it up to Cindy on our 40th anniversary when we visited Niagara Falls. I reserved a classy hotel room and had a big bouquet of roses waiting for her when we checked-in.
Cindy loved Niagara Falls. We participated in a tour which included a visit to the Cave of the Winds where you can get “soakingly” close to the falls. I stayed back a safe distance but Cindy joined some other brave souls and hiked right up to the spray. I enjoyed seeing her so happy.
When Cindy passed away, I didn’t immediately think about our 50th anniversary. A few months after her passing, however, a Facebook friend posted a happy note about her upcoming 40-something wedding anniversary. That message reinforced the awareness that Cindy and I had no more anniversaries.
I was in my office at the time and I lost it. I turned my desk chair so my co-workers wouldn’t see the tears. Wouldn’t you know it, my boss came into my office right then. One of the things I enjoyed about working for The Salvation Army was the organization’s spiritual roots. An ordained pastor, my boss consoled me and we prayed together. That helped but the angst continued.
So here it is ̶̶ October 2019. October 11 would have been our 50th anniversary. Cindy was a beautiful bride. I was many pounds lighter, had thick hair and looked dapper in a tuxedo if I have to say so myself.
The Lord gave me 43 years and three months with the brown-eyed girl I met at her sister’s wedding rehearsal. Though our marriage wasn’t without some tempests, we loved our way through them.
When I credit the Lord for the bride of my youth, I am serious. The older I get the more I am convinced that, when we are open to His direction, God guides our steps.
When I was a teenager my paternal grandmother acknowledged my birthdays with a card, a one-dollar bill and a gospel tract on the topic of dating. One of the tracts read, “Don’t date someone you wouldn’t marry.”
Though I paid little attention to my grandmother’s caution early on, I recognized and admired Cindy’s faith when we were dating. It was a determining factor when I decided she was the one I wanted to marry.
When Cindy left this life her faith was a great comfort to me. The assurance of her home in heaven lessened the loss.
So here it is, nearly seven years later and I still miss Cindy.
Once again, five-years-ago, God led me to a beautiful wife with a strong faith. Julie lost her husband, Bill, to cancer in November 2008 after 27 years of marriage.
On a near daily basis we visit about Bill and Cindy, sharing precious memories. It’s something I didn’t understand before Cindy died but I’m happy that we can remember our first mates in this way.
Cindy and I didn’t get to observe our golden anniversary, but I have more than 43 years of memories. And two great children!
I have promised Julie that for our 50th anniversary in 2064 I will take her on a world tour. We’ll send you a postcard!
(Arvid Huisman can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)