Today is Evelyn and my 44th wedding anniversary, and I’m especially thinking aloud in gratitude about this wonderful companion who has filled my life with so much love and devotion.
We were married in my home church, Dawson Memorial Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, by one of our college professors, Dr. Sigurd Bryan. Dr. Bryan allowed us to write our own wedding ceremony, and we (well, mostly I) drew heavily upon some book on love that was “hot” at that time but which today I cannot even recall the title. It was a nice and fresh take on a marriage ceremony, and we received a number of positive comments. Dr. Bryan was quick to tell folks that we wrote it—perhaps to pass off on us the maudlin sentimentality that persists in my recollection today about the ceremony itself.
The most vivid memory of the ceremony for me, however, was in the exchanging of the rings. Each of us had composed our own vow and shared it for the first time at that moment in the ceremony. Being a seminary student at the time, my vow was chock-full of profound theological significance—most of which has now faded from my memory. But the first words out of Evelyn’s mouth in her vow have stuck with me forever. In profound simplicity and earnestness, she just began, “Mike, I give you this ring because I love you.” That one statement was for me the highlight of the day and of my life, and I have worn that ring for 44 years now as a reminder of that deeply profound but simple affirmation that is at the heart of our relationship.
In the eight years since I retired, I have rediscovered how special this woman and her love are to me. As revealed in the vows of the rings and as lived out each day since then, Evelyn is a simple and transparent woman in whom there is no guile. Her love is deep and unquestionable. Her unselfishness is monumental. Her devotion is sincere and deep. Her patience never waxes thin.
Marriage is meant to be a relationship of oneness, unity, and harmony; and Evelyn has patiently lived with me through the years of all my distractions from work and responsibilities outside the home to bring me back to the central theme. We exchanged these rings because we love each other—more deeply now than we could ever had imagined 44 years ago. In many ways we have had an enchanted life together; and the magic, the charm, and the delight have grown stronger than I could have imagined on our wedding day.
Thank you, Evelyn. You are the love of my life, and I write these words to you “because I love you.” This is a special day because you are the most special woman to me.