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.
Fifty 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.