I had the opportunity to speak with my 80-year-old Aunt in Texas yesterday. She is very, very dear to my heart and has visited with me several times over this last summer. She lost the “love of her life”, her husband last December after 61 years of marriage.
It’s not quite a year yet and it’s still quite difficult for her living in their home alone. She cried as she told me how she’s had a hard time the past couple weeks as she found a box of letters from him she has kept that he wrote to her right after they met. Their first meeting is so sweet. He walked into the Alvin Pharmacy where she worked after school and when he laid eyes on her, he told his friend, “I’m gonna marry that girl”! He just knew it! He’s retold the story many times in his slow southern Mississippi drawl how “she was the purtiest girl I’d ever seen and I knew in my heart she was the one for me”. And sure enough, she was and he did it, he married her!
They were polar opposites but their love for one another is the same they shared. She is outgoing, friendly, bubbly, talkative and enjoys going and doing and surrounding herself with lots of people. He was quiet, reserved, tall, dark and handsome, strong, and an outdoorsy type with a head full of knowledge that wasn’t wasted in jibbery small talk. He was a man of few words, but those words when spoken were “words of wisdom” and always filled with love and genuine concern. I still see his smile and chuckle as he laughed under his breath at the stories and comedic actions of our crazy family he married into.
He lived in Indianola, MS and she in Alvin TX and they corresponded for eight months by letters written and dated and mailed every single day. He proclaimed his love for her and shared all his plans to marry her and how they would build a life together, a home and raise children and enjoy their grandchildren.
At this time, she interjects how much she misses him. I’m crying listening to her and knowing her loss and sadness she feels. She proceeds to tell me there are more letters from him after they married when he was in the Army stationed in Germany before she was able to join up with him. He writes of how beautiful Germany is, the snow-capped mountains, the cold temperatures and the delicious German food and how nice the people are. Well, more tears and I could feel the heaviness and overwhelming loss she was feeling too as she tells of these love letters.
Since I was driving, it was getting hard to see the road through my tears and I decided I must switch the sad tears and the sadness I was hearing and feeling from my Aunt Mary’s voice, into a more joyful and celebratory last few moments of our conversation. So I told Aunt Mary how incredibly blessed she was to have those letters to remind her of the love and life they shared together.
I reminded her that theirs is a beautiful love story and such a blessing of how she and Uncle Robert were to have found one another when they grew up several states away and for her to have been working that day he walked in to the pharmacy and to have had over 62 years of discovering and knowing him, to have loved him and been loved by him, the laughter, togetherness and how wonderful it is to have made their dreams come true together as a couple.
I told her that so many people never find true love, lasting love like theirs no matter how hard and long they search. And for them to be so young and to have survived, lived, loved and thrived through those ups and downs and struggles through the years is a blessing and a miracle when so many couples give up and go their separate ways through divorce.
I reminded her how much of a blessing it is in raising their children and filling their home with the hundreds of celebrations there through the years and the holidays, all the birthdays and weddings and even the times family gathered when someone passed were all precious and cherished memories. Their home was always the place to be and their presence, their love and warmth always made people feel special and wanted. That’s what she is needing to hold onto and remembering now; she is letting those good and beautiful memories fill the hole left in her heart from his being gone. I told her to be proud of their life long commitment to one another, their perseverance and strength and ability to forgive each other. What a testimony of true love and a good lasting marriage!
My friends, what we choose to remember has a great impact on what kind of day and what kind of life we have. If we only remember the bad, the pain, the hurts, the failures and the disappointments and loss; we will feel the overwhelming sadness and defeat we experienced all over again.
But let’s change what we choose to remember. Start remembering the love, the beauty, the joys, the celebrations, the laughter and the miracles we’ve had. Remember the blessings and give thanks! Remember when God worked things out, when it seemed impossible and there was just no way? Yeah, God did it and He’ll do it again!
Remembering the good things will improve our mood and lift our spirit. It will improve our outlook and make us feel better and we will be stronger.
Like my Aunt Mary, instead of those love letters bringing sadness to her, they are now a reminder of how much he loved her and how special she was to him and still is today.
My friends, remember what’s good; even if it was a bad time you went through, just think…..you aren’t there now. You’ve come through, you made it to the other side, you are wiser, you are stronger and you learned valuable lessons from that tough time. Be encouraged today, lift up your head and stir up your faith and hold onto Fathers hand, He is with you and always has been. Walk on and keep living and loving and being grateful and be at peace. You are loved with an everlasting love!
Tonya F Henshaw