By Bruce Stambaugh
For the first time in our 45 years of marriage, our anniversary falls on Easter. I couldn’t be happier.
To be honest, I have no idea why we set our wedding date for the end of March. We had to be crazy to marry at the height of high school and college basketball tournaments. I guess it was a different kind of March Madness.
Both our fathers were big sports fans. They watched baseball, football and basketball games on TV and listened to them on the radio, too, sometimes simultaneously. We wouldn’t have been surprised if Neva’s dad had walked her down the aisle with a transistor radio held to his ear. He didn’t of course.
There was another thing about our wedding date. Neva and I were both teachers. What kind of a honeymoon could we take in the middle of a school year? The answer was a very short one.
The years have flown by. Like all couples, we’ve had our ups and downs. Through thick or thin, one little gesture has helped keep us together. We hold hands a lot.
Our handholding started on our real honeymoon the summer after we were married. We ran a church camp located at 10,200 ft. on the eastern slope of Pikes Peak in Colorado.
We cooked on a wood stove or over an open fire, drank water from an ice-cold mountain stream, and greeted mountain hikers who needed a rest stop. We met a lot of nice people that summer, plus a hungry black bear that came calling early one evening.
A lot of water has run down life’s stream since then. We are fortunate to have family, friends, neighbors and church members who lifted us up when we needed it the most. We have tried to return the favors whenever possible.
Serving and being served in and by the community has strengthened if not defined our marriage and our shared purpose. But it’s the everyday interactions with one another, with strangers and friends that have helped see us through.
No matter the situation, Neva and I automatically reach for each other’s hand. That purposefully keeps us together.
I have read Neva’s heart and mind simply by touch. Cold and firm or warm and gentle, good times or bad, we still cling to one another. It’s a constant reminder that neither of us is ever alone in any situation. I thrive in that reassurance.
I remember the joy of playing horse as our two youngsters rode on my back around the house until I collapsed. They long ago became responsible, productive adults with careers and lives of their own. Our three growing grandchildren are wonderful blessings to us now, too.
We recently visited the pastor who married us. We thanked him for all that he did to prepare us for our wedding day and life beyond. Hand in hand, he set this young, naïve couple on a long, meandering, incredible journey together.
I’m hoping the Easter weather will be beautiful, as lovely as my bride. It’s been a while since I’ve called her that. It will be great to share this holy day with folks who have lifted us up all these years.
I’m overjoyed that Easter and our anniversary coincide this year. It’s the perfect day of hope and joy for us to celebrate our reckless, uncalculated love together.
In the evening, we’ll sit and watch basketball games on TV. I’m pretty confident we’ll be holding hands.
© Bruce Stambaugh 2016
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