A dance hall. A clutched purse. A handsome young soldier. Eyes meet across the hall and he saunters over to the lovely vision. Asking her to dance, she protests with a “can’t put my purse down” excuse. He alleviates that excuse and tucks in her purse under his uniform jacket and whisks her onto the dance floor and into his life for the next 68 years. The war expedited love. The brisk wind of death had fallen upon many and life was grabbed at every opportunity. With the cold bony grip of death so close, love was forced to make quick decisions. Love. A “promise” of marriage wasn’t enough to carry this bride to another continent. Once again, this dashing soldier tucks in the purse of commitment under his uniform and produced a ring and a covenant to his beloved to love, honor and cherish her all the days of his life. Plot twist. She would be moving to Canada.
Goodbyes. Stepping onto the train. Traveling across the world to meet up again. The young thoroughly modern Millie embarks to embrace her new life with her dashing soldier in Canada. Many stops were made along the way with war brides shyly meeting up with their husbands. Uniforms now exchanged for farm work wear and dusty boots, the image was dauntingly unfamiliar. Breaths caught up in throats and fear clutched at some. Down to a few. The train stops and Millie looks out to see her dashing man in a suit alongside a car. Smiling to herself she thought, “I got myself a rich one!” Johnny looks up to see his thoroughly modern Millie with a wave of white cascading through the front of her black tresses and a jaunty cigarette at her red lips. Thrilled to see one another again, they jaunt off home to his mother’s home in his rental car to meet Johnny’s two conservative and wonderful sisters. Johnny had wanted to bless Millie and rented a car for the day from his wages. Life was meager at times but their love was rich. Memories of having to hitchhike a ride to the hospital and scraping money together to pay for their first property. Building their home brick by brick by hand and not going into debt to get ahead was Johnny’s standard. Millie was the spice that kept life sweet and flavorful.
Into their marriage a bit, Johnny came to know the Lord and wanted desperately for his new bride to know His Savior. Night by night, they would get tucked into bed and he would read the Bible aloud to her until it became a reality in her life and she too surrendered her life to Jesus Christ. Together they forged through life with joys of daily adventures and life itself and hardships of barrenness, financial loss and death of friends. After many years of not being able to have children naturally, they began the process of adoption and had two lovely girls Diane and Joy. Through this, they were able to pour their love for each other and for the Lord into these two little ones and now many more to follow in grandchildren and great grandchildren. Through the years, the Lord has prospered this lovely couple who have daily forged through life with tenacity, with zeal, with hospitality, with joy, with PURPOSE.
We had the privilege of meeting this couple about 18 years ago and delighted to spend time with their wisdom, their humor and their complete surrender to the will of God. Never have I failed to walk away from any conversation with either one of them but have been filled to the brim with thanksgiving that the Lord has gifted us with such treasure for friends. Tomorrow is their 68th Wedding Anniversary and I am struck once again at the faithfulness of God unfolded in the marriage of these two. Together, they have took hold of the very hand of God and walked through life leaning on His word. Together, they have met adversity, lost friends to death, watched churches split and countless painful moments where their recourse was to pray, to trust God and move forward. I learn so much from both of them. I learn that life is short. That moment in the dance hall is etched in their minds…..it echoes on their hearts still. They are youthful in their hearts, wise in their speech and they feel the pains of their age creeping into their bodies. We learn from it all and feel as though we are immersed in a pool of gold and wisdom in their midst. At 90 and 91…..they are together, they serve the Lord, they fill each other with God’s word, they go about their day with thanksgiving and very occasionally I hear a complaint and when I do, it is likely turned around into something to laugh with. They apologize for their shakiness or their age at times and I am astounded. All I see is bedrock strength, stunning beauty, ageless wisdom and an outpouring of love. They make my heart sing. My hero couple, my couple who prays diligently for our children, my couple who demonstrates to me daily what it is to love unconditionally, my couple who loves to laugh, my couple who still manages to bless all those in the wake of their kindness and generosity….I love them.
Daily routine. Daily pain. Daily prayer. Johnny daily “tucks Millie’s purse” in his uniform by caring for her needs, being a provider, loving her dearly every day. Every day is a gift and it had been from the time they were young. Now they know it more than then…every day is a gift. Now instead of jauntily tucking a purse into his uniform to whisk his lovely off for a spin, Johnny tucks Millie into bed and he kisses her goodnight every night and says, “see you in the morning”. Millie responds with, “I hope so.” The light is turned down and evening sweeps in with quiet and the peace shatters the air. Life well lived.