Thinking over 65 years of marriage, I have to be grateful, actually I’m amazed about that number. Wow! is all I’ve heard when I tell people how long we’ve been married. Let’s look at that number more closely: 65 is a big number in itself and then I add years alongside it. It means I multiply 365 days times 65 and I have a total of 23,725. That’s a bigger number, but there are 24 hours in each day and I have to add 60 minutes within each hour. I’m not even going to run those numbers through my little calculator. Within each minute is a moment and it’s those moments that count. Living in the moment has special meaning. “We have this moment.”
How did Bill and I get through all those moments, hours, years together. It’s basic. The answer is our covenant relationship. A covenant is an agreed promise between parties, and often referred to as a signed contract. We sealed that covenant during our wedding ceremony on August 24, 1957 and knew not all we were getting into. But the covenant stuck and is still responsible for our commitment of love and loyalty.
What made me think more about these 65 years is our more recent years together. In 2010 Bill contracted Legionnaire’s disease. It’s a rare form of pneumonia, a lung disease. I learned then that oxygen feeds every cell in your body. So that means if you lack oxygen, every part of your body is affected. Among other things, the lack of oxygen affected Bill’s brain, and that accelerated a progression of dementia. Legionnaire’s disease did not cause Bill’s dementia disease, now diagnosed as Alzheimer’s disease, but it sped the process. Dementia is a disease and not everyone gets it as they age. Many of us go through the process of forgetfulness as we age, but that is not the disease of dementia, of which Alzheimer’s is a type. During Bill’s dementia, I’ve learned a lot about the disease and much about myself. That’s why I’m writing a memoir – to recite what I’ve learned about myself during Bill’s journey through dementia.
Now back to that number of 65. In the last twelve years we have experienced (endured) significant changes, but our love, while it’s been affected by those changes, is still strong because of the foundation of the covenant we made back in 1957. Our covenant is binding and with no intention or thought of breaking it. While Bill’s memory decreases almost daily, while I adjust to changes in routine, and while I miss being able to carry on a conversation that interacts with his intellect and logic, our love is evident. I can count on him to pucker his lips for a kiss and say, I love you. And that’s not all. Praise Jesus!