The years have been quite kind…
They say “time flies when you’re having fun” and though I’ve always questioned just who “they” are, and why “they” are the authority on things, this time I have to agree with them, time really does fly when your having fun!
I can’t believe that 40 years have passed since those two sweet, lovable kids that we used to be, pledged our love and lives to one another. 40 years since young John and Raylene were united in holy matrimony! We were only kids, she was 19 and I just 3 years older. Yet there we stood hand in hand, vows exchanged, commitment made, looking into the joyous faces of family and friends, who witnessed our nuptial, ready and willing to face the rest of our lives together, come what may.
40 years, where does all the time go? It certainly doesn’t feel like it’s been that long. I remember our wedding day so vividly, the ceremony, the reception, friends, family and the funky flowers, it’s all so clear. I can still see Ray coming up the aisle with her mom and dad, arm in arm, to the music of Shalom, Sunrise Sunset. She looked so beautiful, with her radiant smile. I remember the two of us sitting up on the altar facing the congregation like some ancient king and queen of old, whispering secret observations softly to one another as we listened first to Shalom, then to Father Aldo’s homily, anxiously awaiting the moment, our moment, when we would exchange vows. It all seemed so magical! A dream come true… a good day, a truly good day.
There were, of course, those who had their doubts and questioned the longevity of our marriage. Some thought we’d made a mistake or rather that my wife had made a mistake and that our marriage would never last. Well here we are still together all these years later celebrating our 40th anniversary. You were sure wrong now weren’t you? But really, who would of thunk it? They had good reason to doubt. I gave them plenty of reasons. Hell, sometimes I even had doubts myself and I’m sure my wife did as well.
You see I was still very immature in fact I have always said that my 20’s were an extension of my teens, yeah twenty-sixteen, twenty-seventeen and so on. I simply didn’t have my shit together. All too often I was still thinking in terms of “I” instead of “We” and damn near always put my friends ahead of family, not a good thing to do for the newly married, or anyone for that matter. But then I’d had a couple of what I considered major instances as a teen that caused me to lose faith in my family and turned me towards my friends, I knew I could always count on them.
Unfortunately I didn’t have a very solid footing on the road of life back then and had no idea where we were headed. My uncertainty caused me to keep stumbling and falling down along the way and made for a miserable journey at times. Yeah there were instances when I wasn’t a very nice person back then, oh I was nice as can be to others, but not to my family, no way, especially to my wife. To tell you the truth I don’t know how or why she put up with my crap the way she did and stayed with me.
It wasn’t a marriage made in heaven by any means. We were both unhappy. Now don’t get me wrong, we shared a lot of good times but there were bad times as well. Lucky for me she stayed. What a martyr! Like all martyrs she was a true believer. She believed in me. She says she always saw something in me, a potential unfulfilled. Pretty sad when others can see your potential and you don’t see or feel a thing. Fortunately she stayed with me until I too could see it.
It took time, but I eventually came to my senses. We began to make important life changes and grew as a couple. Things began to change for the better. Thank God we managed to survive my twenty-teens. If we hadn’t, I can’t begin to imagine how different my life would have been, nor would I want to.
Yeah we made it over some major speed bumps and have hit a few more since then, but they’ve been much easier to handle together. Ray sometimes says “we’ve been to hell and back” and she’s right. We’ve had our ups and downs but our partnership has endured the years and I would like to believe that everything we’ve experienced in our marriage has helped us grow into who we are today. Thank God we’re both as tenacious and bull-headed as we are, or we probably wouldn’t be here together today.
So here we are 40 years later celebrating our anniversary by spending 10 days in Maui with two of our closest friends and have been having an incredible time. Yesterday, our actual anniversary, we attended mass at a little Catholic Church in Lahaina. I had prearranged for us to renew our wedding vows at the end of the mass. Raylene had no idea, I caught her completely by surprise. It was pretty awesome! Raylene was radiant! I tell you she is as beautiful today as she was 40 years ago!
God willing we will be allowed to share many more years together. I hope we can make each and every day we have as meaningful and memorable as possible!