The twenty-fifth anniversary is silver. It was our last one. God knows our life as history, and I think He plans events so that the last days are special. We didn’t know that we wouldn’t be together to celebrate another year of marriage, but God knew and he blessed me with a beautiful day that would sustain me as June 12th, the date of our anniversary rolled around each year, but I wouldn’t celebrate that date with John again after 2007. I do treasure the memories that I have.
June 10th was a regular Sunday morning. We dressed for church and I did notice that both John and Cam were wearing a suit. I asked why they were so dressed up and John told me that the youth was having a special day. I didn’t give it another thought. In retrospect, I wish I had dressed up too, but I didn’t. That day, I don’t think I even used a blow dryer for my hair. If I had known the day was going to be so memorable, I would have taken more effort with my appearance. You’d have thought John would have given me some sort of reason for me to dress up, but he didn’t. Just like a man!
We arrived at church and after Sunday School, I went down to the fellowship hall to join the choir for our worship service. On the wall, I noticed a party sign that said, “Happy 25th Anniversary” and I thought someone else was celebrating their quarter century anniversary this week also. John had our 25th anniversary noted in the church program and had flowers put on the table in front of the pulpit in honor of it. Before and after the service we were wished happy anniversary many times. Pastor Tom even announced in the service that it was our anniversary and we stood and people clapped. I was feeling very loved and honored.
After church service, we walked out to the car and was about to get in, when John said he needed to get something from the chapel. Instead of walking back inside the church to go in the back way to the chapel, he walked around to the outside doors. I, of course, tagged along with Cameron and him. He opened the chapel doors and held it open for me to enter first and I was welcomed with applause. Inside the chapel sat friends and family waiting for our vow renewal. We were married in that very same chapel twenty-five years before (just lacking two days). Yes, it was sentimental.
The pews had been removed a few years before and cushioned chairs were brought in to make it kid friendly because that’s where kid church was now held. When the pews were removed, John, purchased me one for a donation to the church. The pews were about thirty feet long. That pew sat in our garage a few years in its original length. We had meant to cut it down into a usable length. That didn’t happen until after John died, and my sweet friends cut it down and put it in my living room while Cameron and I were on vacation in Florida. That day the chairs had been arranged in a V-shape and they rolled out an aisle, so I would have a path to walk to the front of the chapel.
I walked in very emotional. My friends, Carol and Arlene, were dressed in yellow and brown. Yellow was my original wedding color. My friend, Arlene, was my maid of honor in our wedding. They had a white hair wreath for me to wear and yellow roses for me to carry as a bouquet. On the alter, was an arch decorated with white tulle and flowers. John’s friend, David, came down to act as a best man and Cameron stood beside him. Pastor Tom was there to officiate our vow renewal.
Before we said our vows again, John addressed the guests and told them that he had never officially asked me to marry him. That was true. So that he could never say that again, he went down on one knee and proposed to me in front of everyone. That brought tears to my eyes. I don’t know if you can imagine how precious that was to me.
We went down to the fellowship hall and there before us was a reception that looked prettier than my original reception that was held in the very same room. Round tables were set up and decorated with yellow flowers and a long buffet of sandwiches, chips, and more food than I can recall was set up for lunch. My Sunday School class had brought food for my reception. Not one person let it slip that they knew about our ‘surprise vow renewal.’
A small reception table was set up with flowers and our wedding pictures were displayed. However, I think the most beautiful thing was a recreation of our wedding cake (my mom had made my original cake), but this one was made by a friend’s son who was a professional pastry chef. On the top of the cake was our original ‘cake topper.’ I had purchased the precious moments wedding couple to use on our wedding cake and then it became part of my small precious moments collection. I hadn’t even missed it from our home.
The reception was filled with friends and family and laughter. We were toasted by Arlene and David. John told some of our dating history. I don’t think I was able to stop smiling. We even had one of the girls from the youth take pictures during the ceremony and the reception. I had a better time at that one than I did twenty-five years before. After the ceremony, we went to see his parents. His dad’s health kept them from attending it, but we shared the joy of it with them.
Yes, God does send roses. My beautiful rose is the memory of that special last anniversary that we shared. I never doubted that John wanted me in his life as his wife. We both went into marriage committed to the covenant that we vowed to keep with one another. During that twenty-five years, we grew and changed more than we ever imagined that we would. We created a son together that hopefully has the best of both of us in him.
We ended our marriage in the way a marriage should end…’Until death us do part.’ It wasn’t always easy and we had our sweet patches and our rough spots that we rode out together. I do have regrets that I wish I could go back and have some ‘do-overs.’ I don’t think anyone doesn’t have those.
What I do have is memories of a special man who made an enormous impact on my life. I loved him more than words can express. Love is an intentional act. It’s more than an emotion. It’s the small things that are done out of caring deeply for one another. It’s the act of putting another person’s needs above and beyond your own.
It’s because of how well that I was loved that I would like to experience that again. That, I think, is the best compliment to John. He showed me the beauty of marriage and for that I do feel truly blessed.