My husband and his siblings are flying high after celebrating their parents’ 50th wedding anniversary recently. Not every married couple makes it to this significant milestone, and most of our family honestly didn’t think they’d make it to this celebration.
When a couple marries and vows to be true to each other “in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health,” the real challenges of the future often seem too far away to even be possible. Life became more challenging for my in-laws when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) at age 36.
Her husband and their four children watched helplessly as her independence was stolen from her by this dreadful disease. My husband tells stories of her spirit and intelligence, ghosts of which I’ve witnessed since joining the family over 20 years ago.
As she surrendered her canes for a walker, then a manual wheelchair and later an electric wheelchair, her family worked to accomodate her changing needs. She was cared for at home until this, even with hired help, put too much strain on his health.
She’s lived in a healthcare facility for over five years while he, still living at home, spends nearly every day with her. Frequent infections and sepsis, accompanied by high fevers, have nearly taken her life more than once.
He has his own health issues. While he’s had frequent bronchitis and been in respiratory distress multiple times in the past several years due to COPD, his diagnosis with terminal cancer a year ago made this celebration all the more poignant and memorable.
Our daughter played the guitar and sang “Two Sparrows in a Hurricane” in tribute to her grandparents at the anniversary celebration. Some of the lyrics that are particularly fitting are “The clouds are dark and the wind is high, but they can see the other side” and “It’s just a matter of time, they’ll spread their wings and fly.”
No person knows on their wedding day how long he or she may live, nor can any couple anticipate the highs and lows ahead. That’s why the decision to love is so important. When the heady days of early romance are past, the commitment a couple has made to each other holds them together so that their love can mature and endure.
Jim and Susan Vogt write:
The three most important things to keep a marriage healthy are commitment, commitment and commitment. —Every Day Catholic, February 2008
I’m thankful for the witness of my in-laws and other couples like them who show me that it’s possible to commit one’s life to another—and follow through on that commitment. Has their journey been trouble-free? No. Is anyone’s? No. Is it worth the effort? Yes!
Please share your insights and experiences:
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