She was 20. In my imagination she was sassy, proper, and expectant. She was a recent Bible school graduate, impish yet traditional; a small-town girl with big ideas. Feminine and strong and ready.
He was 21. Tall, lean, and skilled. Quick-witted, and responsible. Quiet, except when he wasn't. Overcoming the high school years of shyness. He'd just finished two years of trades training, had a good job and a bright future.
They'd known each other for half of their young lives. Been Sunday School friends and high school sweethearts. They'd separated for a while, as happens when people are finding out if they are who they think they are. Inevitably, they had come back together.
Today is my parents' 50th wedding anniversary. And this weekend 60 or so friends and family will gather to celebrate. With all the focus on planning the party with my sisters, I have spent less time than I would prefer reflecting on their accomplishment and all that it represents. Fifty Christmases, 100 birthdays, 3 daughters, 5 grandchildren. They've lived in 7 towns and at least 14 homes. I know there's an infographic in there somewhere.
But what about the 50 years of the immeasurable, intangible moments that comprise a marriage? How many tears, or smiles, or laughs have they shared? How many times have they bitten their tongues, or wished they did? How many mistakes between them have been forgiven? How many perfect moments lived through, and then somehow forgotten? How many dishes have been washed, bags of garbage taken out, cars bought and sold? How many gallons of paint, rolls of wallpaper, hours of sanding hardwood floors have gone into all the homes they have created?
How many times did their shared faith outweigh their personal frustrations with each other? How many times have they celebrated getting it right the first time, and making it right because that was the only choice they would allow themselves?
I'm deeply deeply proud of my parents. They are remarkable individuals - active, giving, committed, honest. They are people I enjoy spending time with, and people I enjoy sharing with my friends and loved ones. In many ways, this milestone anniversary is a truly remarkable accomplishment. And, when you know them, in so many ways it's the obvious and inevitable result of who they are - the embodiment of love and faith and humanity.