Last weekend was my parent's 40th wedding anniversary. It's extremely difficult to orchestrate a gathering of my siblings' families, but we were able to pull it off and surprise my parents. We had discussed possibly having a large gathering of friends, but we decided that a crowd consisting of 13 grandchildren was quite enough (take a look at the picture of the bottom of this post to observe the ever-growing Carr clan). My mother and father were married in Maysville, Kentucky on June 6, 1970. The late Lewis Foster, esteemed New Testament professor at the Cincinnati Bible Seminary, was supposed to perform the ceremony but his father had passed away the night before. They had to get a replacement minister, a gentleman that my father claims was not licensed to perform weddings in Kentucky. He uses that anecdote to set up the joke that he and Mom were never married. He's like that sometime.
It was a very basic wedding ceremony as I understand it; the pictures of their special day reflect the simplicity expected in the union of the daughter of a tobacco farmer and the son of Appalachian field workers. But many times power things have rather humble beginnings.
It has not been until recent years that I have truly begun to appreciate what my parents have. They learned to accept life as it came to them and make the best of it. My mother prolonged her entry into college in order to save up the money to pay in full; she used to instill guilt in us by relating what she went without while laboring towards her professional degree. My father drove a truck long before he was legally allowed to do so in order to make money for his family. He served faithfully in the Marine Corps in Vietnam and then returned home, meeting my mother at his home church. Instead of lamenting the many hardships before them, they modeled their marriage on work and service, always putting forth a supreme effort. From nothing, they built a successful business. And into their children they planted seeds of education, fully understanding that this was the key to life success. My siblings and I have truly benefited from their efforts, obtaining a strong work ethic and a leg-up in having stable adult lives.
But, ultimately, my parents' marriage is best summarized by their faith; it has been the constant throughout their relationship. Many a morning, as I woke up to get ready for school, I would hear my parents in their room reading the Bible and praying. They made sure that we were at the church building practically every time the doors were open. Again, these habits were passed on to my brothers and sisters as all of our families are currently dedicated servants in local congregations. And my parents' loyalty to the Price Hill Church of Christ over the course of their marriage amazes me more than anything. Few people today can claim that they've remained loyal to the same community of believers for 40 years. Perhaps it's the fact that the church is what brought them together. Regardless, their Christian family has been a driving force throughout their marriage.
I know it hasn't been easy for them but, still, 40 years later, they love each other as they did when they were young. I am more proud of my parents than I could ever articulate. I was raised with a front row seat to a great marriage. And it has made all the difference mine and my siblings lives. And this is why WE celebrated their forty years last week.
Last week, while pondering my parents marriage, I found this video about the late John Wooden and his relationship with his wife. Somehow I kept seeing that as the equivalent of my parents' love for each other.