Several weeks ago I was invited to go to brunch with some of my (deceased) grandparents’ dearest friends, Zoe and Jim, as they celebrated their 66th anniversary. My mother lives just down the street from the happy couple and as they have driven less, Shuggie has picked them up for errands and lunch on occasion. My mom always enjoys herself so much when she is with them that there was no way I was missing out!
I met my mother, Zoe and Jim at the restaurant and tried to restrain myself from asking a million questions at once. But I was dying to know how they had been happily married for 66 years and wanted to hear their entire life stories.
I started with, “How did you two meet?”
Zoe answered with a Southern voice as sweet and smooth as buttered molasses, “We went to high school togethah. His friend Tupper would call me and say “I want a date on Friday night and Jim wants one on Saturday!’”
Jim concentrated on his tea.
Zoe continued, “So Jim would come on Friday night and sit in the backseat and pout. And every time Tupper would pay me a compliment, Jim would pipe up and say, “He said that to Mary Sue last night!’”
“Well, he did. And there’s more than one way to skin a cat. It worked didn’t it?” Jim quipped. “Tupper was something else, one minute you’d be so mad you’d want to punch him in his teeth and the next he’d have you doubled over laughing.”
Zoe picked up where Jim paused, “People would ask Tupper what his daddy did for a living and…” she paused cutting her eyes to our server, an amputee with a mechanical hook on one arm, and spoke out of the corner of her mouth, “HE said, “He’s a one armed paper hanger!”
I had tears in my eyes I was laughing so hard.
“When did you get married?” I asked.
They answered simultaneously. “When the ark landed,” Jim said, as Zoe answered, “1944,” and cut her eyes at Jim.
They were engaged for two years and married after Jim returned from his career as a naval fighter pilot in World War II. Jim said he was 42 years old when he felt God calling him to the ministry so they packed up and moved to Fort Worth, Texas from Birmingham, Alabama so he could attend, “The cemetery…oh, excuse me! I meant to say the seminary.”
“Did you pastor after that?” I asked as Jim concentrated on his French toast.
“I tried to,” he muttered.
Jim and I started to speak at the same time, “What is the secret to being happily married for so many years?” I asked. I began to apologize for speaking over him when Zoe reached to pour him another cup of apple cinnamon tea and said, “You’re supposed to be quiet now!”
She turned to me, “Keep God first. Love one another. And have a good sense of humor…”
I looked expectantly at Jim for his input, “God figured I needed all the help I could get.”
I’d go so far as to say that Zoe and Jim might be my most seasoned readers! A special thanks to them for their company, their wisdom and their humor and to their daughter Lanita, in Arizona, for brunch, and for calling her parents every time I post to read it to them.