51

January 26, 1963 Wayne Griffin and Jan Sharrott said their wedding vows in a small Methodist church in Huntsville, Alabama as two of their closest friends watched. They struggled in every way the first few years of their marriage. They brought two daughters into the world and money was tight. Wayne worked for Willo Products in Decatur and opened the Neighborhood Shell Gas & Grocery in Hartselle.

They lived with Wayne’s mom. Their small bedroom was cramped with their bed and two baby beds. Without air conditioning, the room seemed smaller in the summertime. Winters were easier because the pot-bellied stove heated the house well. By 1972, they had four daughters and that same year they bought the place where Wayne and his brother grew up.

img_4964Fifty one years is an accomplishment in any marriage, but my sisters and I know just how remarkable this one is because we witnessed and lived through it. They endured the normal hardships that come with raising a family. Financial crises, job changes and losses, failed businesses, health problems, and four girls. With one bathroom!

The most difficult challenge had to be dad’s alcoholism. That made all the other struggles even harder. Thousands and thousands of tears fell. Mama cried because she felt alone and angry and worried. Daddy cried because he didn’t know how to beat the addiction that was hurting his family and ruining his life. We cried because we were scared when Mama and Daddy fought.

But there was plenty of laughter, too. Fish fries and family gatherings. Saturday morning yard work and Saturday evening grill-outs. Trips to the beach and Christmas. The best memories fill my heart.

I’ve wondered how they did it – how they were able to stay together when so much seemed against them. They can’t give me an easy answer.

After 20 plus years in my own marriage I’m still learning how to do marriage. It’s hard. I’ve wanted to leave. I’ve wanted him to leave. Recently. Last week.

My parents’ marriage has eternal significance, a lasting legacy. I have the courage to stay and fight for my own marriage because of their 51 years.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
Love never dies.                               1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (MSG)

They wanted to give up sometimes. They didn’t do their marriage perfectly.

They just did it. They endured…..they persevered. They forgave and they stayed. They hoped for better days. They kept going and they will go to the end.

In my marriage…..I will take it one day at a time. Committed. Dedicated. Keeping my vows. Choosing to love and stay. Trusting God, not looking back and looking for the best.

I’m forever grateful they kept the vows spoken in that small church in Huntsville in 1963.

Thank you Mama and Daddy. I love you.

18 Comments

  1. Starla Such on January 28, 2014 at 6:58 am

    LOVE this!! Starla Such Executive Assistant to Lead Pastors Epic Church

  2. Harriett (Jan ) Griffin on January 28, 2014 at 11:48 am

    Marie,

    Thank you for the beautiful words you put together for Wayne and I. I do believe our four beautiful and wonderful daughters had so very much to do with us making the marriage work. Not only our girls, but our friends and families that were praying for us through all the difficult times. Ultimately, it was God and his love that got us through the rough times. Also, I knew Wayne was a godly person and did not want the life we were living with the drinking problem. I knew that one day he would ask God to remove the desire for drinking away from his mind, body and heart. God answered that prayer and today we continue trusing in God and his promises. Thanks to our four daughters for what they have given to us, their love and trust and our ten grandchildren.

    Love,

    Mom

    • mariegriffith on January 28, 2014 at 12:13 pm

      Mom,
      What a sweet comment. I wanted you both to know what it means to me that you celebrated 51 years together!! Thank you for your constant encouragement. You have always believed in me and my writing. I will treasure these words forever- thank you for taking the time to write them. I love you and Daddy so much!!

    • dawnlizjones on September 8, 2015 at 4:29 pm

      Mrs. Griffith, thank you for your courage and vulnerability. God bless you!!

  3. Joy Waters Martin on February 1, 2014 at 12:57 am

    Such a beautiful tribute to your mom and dad …and to doing the hard work of love in our own marriages. It’s worth it for sure !

    • mariegriffith on February 1, 2014 at 12:43 pm

      Loved seeing you last night. Thanks for asking how things are going? And thank you for your constant encouragement!!! Love you!

  4. Ginger on February 1, 2014 at 1:22 am

    I enjoyed reading about Jan & Wayne’s life together. I pretty much know their story, but enjoyed reading the interesting way you wrote the post. We married 5 months before they did, in August 1962 and moved to Alaska where Brownie was stationed at the time. After we moved back to the states, we managed to stay in touch with Jan & Wayne through the years. Love them so much. Thanks for writing about them.

    Ginger

    • mariegriffith on February 1, 2014 at 12:42 pm

      Thank you, Ginger. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. And so glad you and Brownie are part of their story.

  5. mariegriffith on January 27, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    Reblogged this on Full-Time and commented:

    Yesterday was 52 years since Mom and Dad married. I thought about them all day as my sisters and I went through some of their things.

    I’m thankful I honored them with this post a year ago, named “51”. Mom often commented on my posts and this one was no exception. But this was the only post that I know of that Daddy ever read and printed.

    They were proud of me. I hope they knew that the reason I could do anything to make them proud was because of them. They loved me and taught me. They poured into me and led me. And best of all they showed me.

  6. The Last Time | Full-Time on September 5, 2015 at 7:36 am

    […] Read more of Mom’s and Dad’s story here. […]

  7. dawnlizjones on September 8, 2015 at 4:31 pm

    Marie, this is fabulous. Thank you for such openness. Hang in there also!! I figure this is why we get married at an altar. Although we dress it up nice for a church, an altar was originally a place of death, so getting married at the altar has great significance for a Christian. God bless you!

    • mariegriffith on September 8, 2015 at 4:35 pm

      Thank you. Yes, both marriage and parenting has been a major source of pruning in my life. I wouldn’t trade it for anything!!

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  10. Dr. J.D. Wilkins on February 21, 2017 at 1:11 pm

    Thanks for reading!!!

  11. Mama - Live Like It Matters Project on October 14, 2018 at 2:58 pm

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