Ann and I were married on June 25, 1947. I was 19 years old and Ann was 18. Grandma said, “It’ll never last.” True, we were innocent in so many ways. Our brief honeymoon sexually was a bust. Thank God our love was not based on the bed.
We took up housekeeping in our first ministry in Largo Florida. We drove into town in a similar fashion as the “Beverly Hillbillies” in a 1929 Chevy with everything we owned in it, on it and around it and a few things under it. We paid cash for our car, $82.20 plus tax. We started out and now ending “debt free” It took a while to drive from the Miami area to the Tampa area for top speed was 35 mph. Dad gave us $200.00 to get started on.
When the honeymoon was over (A short period of time between “I do and you’d better”) we settled into the house the church provided. It was about a hundred years old, no air (open doors and windows), no heat (One small fireplace) and sulphur water and swelled like a dead bear had been thrown in the well a year ago. Salary was fixed at $30, 00 a week with no perks but we were young, in love and I was the preacher.
I looked on marriage as a partnership. “I could do what I wanted and she would do what I wanted to.” Conflicts came and as her mother had said, “Ann has a terrible temper”. It soon surfaced and I just didn’t have the ability to right myself. In defense of Ann, most of our battles were based on my one-way definition of married being a partnership. At times she would just “blow her stack” and I had no defense. At the height of one battle she said on the high part of the piano, “I hate you, I hate you, I hate you”. She said it three times. I said nothing but when I was leaving I heard her singing a hymn in the kitchen, “Purer in heart O God, help me to be”. “How could she do that?” When heavy battles arose, I was hop in our old faithful Chevy, scratch off, distributing real estate all behind the tires and turn the corner on two wheels. This action was designed to tell her that I might crash this thing and kill myself! One night she stood at the window and said, “Crash it you fool, crash it.” One gets tired of being intimidated!
I would drive to Clearwater (seven miles away), park the car, walk 342 steps up the big bridge and arriving at the top, I looked over at the dark deep death below, pondering. I once thought, “If you go to kill yourself by drowning, take your clothes off, they may fit your wife’s second husband.” Then I reflected on two things. My wife is so beautiful, charming and wonderful, and I was such a nerd, a fool an idiot. I walked faster down the bridge that I walked up it.
At the house, I stormed up on the porch to let her know I was home. I sat in an old rocker and just the movement made noise. I got tired and sleepy just sitting.
We just had one bed and she was in it. I just needed to humble myself but I just didn’t know how. Have you ever quietly climbed into a double bed on 6 inches of the mattress? I believe I heard the bed squeak! I pretended just to turn over and touched her arm. The first step in humbling yourself is the “touch” “Are you asleep?” She whispered, “No.” “Have you been asleep? She whispered, “No.”
“O Darling, I’m such a nerd, such a fool, such an idiot, FORGIVE ME, PLEASE FORGIVE ME!” She turned with both hands supporting her face and her elbows deep in that old worn out mattress, and looked at me with tears flowing down her cheeks and said, “It’s not you Jack, It’s me! Tears filled our kisses and turned all sorrow into joy and all tears into laughter. Than we would slide off the bed on our knees and pray. To hear each other pray is a healing power difficult to describe. The secret we found in that embrace was the power to mold our lives together for the past 60 years. The simple word is FORGIVENESS.
I started living like a husband should and my wife lost the harsh words of her temper. King Solomon said, “A soft answer turns away wrath; and grievous words stills up anger . . . Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies . . . her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also and he praises her . . . favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain; but a woman that fears the Lord, she shall be praised (Proverbs 15:1; 31:10-31).
Ann always led me to higher ground. Her love has lifted me into the heavens. Her faith has pulled me through when I was weak. Her smile is like none other in its beauty. Her voice is the voice of angels for Ann is a great woman, a faithful wife, a caring mother, grandmother and great grandmother. Forgive me for being so personal but I just had to write this before Jesus calls me home. I love you Ann, always, Jack.