A man’s greatest treasure
is his wife—she is a gift from the Lord.
–Proverbs 18:22 (CEV)
A truly good wife is the most precious treasure a man can find!
Her husband depends on her, and she never lets him down.
–Proverbs 31:10-11 (CEV)
The post title is a direct quote from My Lovely Bride.
On this date fifty years ago I spoke the wisest words I’ve ever uttered when I told the preacher “I do,” and he made legal in the eyes of the government what Debbie and I had already sealed in our hearts.
Our story actually began years before that. I was a freshman sitting in the band hall at Fort Stockton High School when this exotic vision of loveliness walked rather shyly into view. She had moved to town with her family — a work-related relocation from the Texas Gulf Coast for her dad — and she was a clarinet player, as was I. The next year or two is now a blur in my memory, but the important outcome was that we were going steady before the end of our high school tenure.
After graduating, I headed to Texas A&M and she went off to North Texas State (now the University of North Texas) in Denton. We wrote each other daily for quite a while…this was well before email and cell phones. I once hitchhiked from College Station to Denton to see her, and she made the same trip in reverse via Greyhound Bus to see me.
At the start of our junior year, Debbie agreed to help me move back to College Station (she had a car; I had only a motorcycle) in September. But when we got there, she called her parents and said something to the effect, I’m going to A&M now. She made that decision without having any other plan, including knowing where she was going to live. (The only female dorm on campus was already full.) An angel in the form of my dad’s colleague in the Agricultural Extension Service headquarters allowed Debbie to stay with her until she found an apartment.
I proposed to her before Christmas of that year, and we announced it back home to absolutely no one’s surprise. We were married at the First Baptist Church of Fort Stockton the evening of July 14, 1973, two days before her 21st birthday. The wedding reception took place in the church basement, and we spent our wedding night in a motel in Del Rio, Texas, on the way to our honeymoon in San Antonio. We stayed at the Hilton Palacio del Rio; below is our photo with that hotel in the background, 45 years later.
We graduated from college in 1975, and moved to Dallas. I began a 25 year career with ARCO, and she started in the commercial finance business. We both went to night school and earned master’s degrees. We bought our first bicycles, little knowing how those clunkers would eventually give way to tens of thousands of miles riding together (and then added thousands of miles running together, in all kinds of weather).
We later moved to Midland, and she eventually wound up at ARCO as well; it wouldn’t be the last time we worked at the same company. We got our scuba certifications and went on a number of dive trips to the Caribbean. Debbie ran a marathon; I was her head cheerleader. We bicycled 100 miles in a day on multiple occasions. We took ballroom dance lessons turned them into what we hope will be a lifetime of enjoyment.
We’ve learned to windsurf together. We’ve climbed mountains together, and kayaked together through alligator-occupied canals. We’ve paddle boarded alongside dolphins and hunted rattlesnakes along dark West Texas roads. We’ve frequented shooting ranges and bicycled over mountain ranges. We’ve taught classes together, and attended each other’s family reunions more times than we can recall. And most importantly, we both love God, and know that our eternal futures are secure.
It hasn’t all been easy, of course. We had the bittersweet blessing of being bedside at the passing of three of our four parents. Debbie had surgery for what might have been cancer but wasn’t, and I had surgery for what we knew for sure was.
Through it all, I’ve been unceasingly amazed at the unmerited grace that God bestowed on me by bringing her into my life. She is the light of my life and I can’t imagine life without her. She is beautiful and delightful and adventurous and patient with my faults that are essentially infinite, and another fifty years by her side will be too few by far.
Yeah, maybe being married fifty years is an indication that we might be getting old…but I can’t imagine a better way to do that, nor a better mate to do it with. Gracias, Dios, por tus muchas bendiciones.
She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express,
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.
And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!
— Lord Byron