Recently, my wonderful and still beautiful wife and I celebrated the 60th anniversary of a marriage which blessed us with five children, nine grandchildren, two step grandchildren, five great grandchildren and eight step-great grandchildren. As they had done for our 50th anniversary, family members planned to make the celebration of this anniversary a special event, and special it was. All members of the Annie L. and Ronald C. Spooner family took the time to be there. I had long hoped for a marriage made in Heaven. But the girl who would make that possible stayed disturbingly absent for far too long.
Thoughts about her frequented my mind, even as I longed for the day of our meeting, thoughts of a beautiful young lady, walking alone a sidewalk of some large city. I had had no luck back home, and was having no better luck during my first year at Wiley College. Imaginations were all I had. But he second quarter of my second year revealed a ray of hope. The gates of Heaven seemed on the verge of opening to release another angel.
A second-quarter dance was being held in the college gym for incoming freshmen. I decided to attend and, from high up on one end of the bleachers, view to see if the girl of my dreams indeed had arrived. ( By now, it didn't even matter if she was from Texas.) There was one young lady with long hair that caught my eye, mainly because she danced so often. All of the young men wanted to dance with her. I hadn't noticed whether it was because of a shortage of young ladies--as she suggest to me later might have been the reason. The only thing that mattered was that she looked like an angel to me.
I left the dance thinking this could be the one, but I didn't give her any further thought. After all, I wasn't exactly in desperate need of a girlfriend. I was a waiter in the cafeteria, and never even looked for her there. I never even chanced to see her--at least, not to recognize her.
But plans had been made for the special bus to carry Wiley students from Beaumont and Port Arthur home for the Christmas holidays. And while waiting for that bus, we encountered each other--sort of. She was standing alone when I arrived at the meeting site. I spoke. She said, "Hello." But as I turned around to put my suitcase out of the way, she turned her back to me. She wore a gray suit that fit her every curve. When they started making Coca Cola bottles, she had been the mold. She was good-looking even up close and in the dark. She must have known I was looking and thought to herself if I weren't, I should have been.
As I started to introduce myself, though, a couple of her friends arrived, leaving me only with hopes that there would be a vacant seat next to her on the bus--or that she would take one next to me. But that was not to be. And the only memories I had during the holidays was being obsessed by one song she danced to during that freshmen dance: "Any time, any place, any where."
When I returned from the holidays she no longer was going unnoticed. I noticed, for example, that she was always the first one peering through the glass-paned door of the cafeteria at meal time. My friends, who were also waiters, knew about my feelings. One of them let only her in early. She wondered why, but she soon found out: Although we still had never met, I had my friends call her and pretend to be me. (Okay, so I was in bad shape.)
But one day, while in the chemistry laboratory with my friends, we needed information from the library. I volunteered to get it. While leaving the building and proceeding toward to library, I noticed two young ladies approaching from an intersecting sidewalk. One of them was this girl. I was petrified. If they had been closer, I perhaps would have spoken, and continued to the library. If they had been farther away, I would have pretended not to have seen them. But they were at this in-between distance. I couldn't wave and continue to the library, because I didn't know them. And I would have looked even more stupid if I said nothing after all the talk she had heard and telephone calls that she thought had been from me. Not knowing what to do, I stopped and waited for them. Her roommate walked on ahead. And when this young lady reached me, I said, "Well, I guess you've been hearing a lot about me." She said, "A little." Without asking permission, I walked with her to her physical education class. We shared a few bits of information about each other--nothing romantic.
But there was a basketball game that Friday night, and I asked if I could take her to the game. She consented. I had found out that both us were Baptists so I invited her to attend Sunday's service with me at a Baptist church with whichI had become affiliated Again, she agreed. We were learning enough about each other to feel comfortable and interested. For me, I had found the girl of my dreams. I was ready for marriage even then. She was not a big-city girl of my imagination but had been reared on a farm, deep, deep in the back woods of Southeast Texas. But none of that mattered. What mattered was that she didn't smoke. She didn't drink. And she went to church. And I was in love. (No, I did not say she did not use profanity if someone gave her reason to use it, and no, I did not say who that someone was.)
During the following summer, we exchanged letters. On Sundays, I would sit on the porch, hoping something had happened at the post office that would cause the mailman to deliver me a letter. I was in love. And while she did not love me quite so much, she loved the fact that I loved her so much.
I not only believed that God had given me what I needed, but hoped He also was giving her what she needed. And when you believe that God has given you something, you need to be careful how you treat it. We have had sixty years of devoted, faithful and carefully-treated marriage. Love, religion and commitment have made it easier. And we still aren't tired of each other.
Recently, another wife, celebrating a 60th anniversary with her husband, was asked how she was able to find somebody willing to stay with her for sixty years. She said in so many words that she looked got someone who was willing to put up with her. That's what all married people hope they have found, including your spouse.