They were busy, happy times in the summer of 1964.
It had been decided that the sisters, Margaret and Marie, would have a double wedding. It had just worked out that way. They met their grooms-to-be at nearly the same time and had gotten engaged within months of each other. What better way to celebrate these momentous love stories than by pairing up for a double wedding? The date was chosen, August 8, 1964, at 11:00 in the morning, and the plans were in motion.
Margaret, the elder sister, would be 21 when she wed Doug, her beau she met on a blind date when they attended a fraternity dance together. He had been immediately smitten, and though she was a little more skeptical (telling him she would probably never get married), he won her over and she fell for him, too. Marie, two years younger, had met her handsome boyfriend, Jack, a marine stationed at Camp Lejeune, at a party. He was from down around far east Texas, Beaumont to be exact, and handsome as could be.
The agreeable sisters picked out matching wedding gowns and decided on what can only be described as blush and bashful bridesmaid dresses. The men would wear morning suits with gray vests. The brides’ sweet daddy, Fred, would walk the girls down the aisle…one on each arm. It would be a most unique southern wedding to rival all others.
Now, to tell every detail of these two couple’s lives would be too time-consuming and, well, we don’t want to give away all their secrets. But, the most important parts are still essential to the story.
Margaret and Doug set up house in the Raleigh area, and after a few years had one daughter, an only child who was the center of their world. Doug, being quite an overachiever, managed to obtain a Ph.D. by age 26 and became a professor at NC State University. Margaret also had academic aspirations and ultimately obtained her Ph.D. in psychology. She too became a professor after spending many years as a stay-at-home mom.
Marie and Jack had two magnificent little boys whom they took to the country and lived in a 150-year-old farmhouse in a small town outside Chapel Hill, growing their own vegetables and living an idyllic life with land and space to explore that every boy dreams about. Marie became one of the first nurse practitioners to practice in NC and worked on some pioneering projects including participating in clinical research at Chapel Hill studying kidney transplants in 1964 (kidney transplants were revolutionary at this time). Jack worked as a teacher, a researcher, in healthcare outreach and as an outward-bound school leader, traveling to places like Japan, Alaska, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico and Guatemala. Marie joined him on many of these trips.
Everyone stayed close, enjoying holidays collectively, special occasions and kids growing up together. “Big Times” as the family referred to these get togethers. And, that they were! Family from all around would come and join the festive events, the holidays, the joy and the fellowship. It came to be expected that this was the way things would always be.
As I learned when I grew up, the days could go by slowly, but the years, they just flew…and that’s what happened in the lives of Margaret, Doug, Marie and Jack. Their children grew…all of them went off to college, and the couples adapted to their lives as empty nesters. In 2014, they celebrated their 50th anniversary with all their children present. By this time, there were three grandchildren already in the picture and another one on the way.
One constant the couples have looked forward to year after year since the early ‘80s is “FC Weekend” (short for Favorite Cousin Weekend). Margaret and Marie are blessed to have many cousins, all of whom live relatively close, and every year, they meet up at a beach house…many years it has been at Marie and Jack’s beach house at Sunset Beach, NC…and they all celebrate their love for one another and another year of being alive and happy. In 2023, this tradition is still going strong.
There have been health scares, cancer for one…multiple times, many surgeries, a fair share of sadness, many losses of loved ones, difficult times, struggles and so many things that all families go through in their lives. Through all this, these sisters, these couples and these families have never faltered as support for one another. It is truly remarkable to be a part of a family where you know you can find comfort at any time, anywhere you turn.
These couples are inching toward 59 years of marriage in August 2023, an incredible accomplishment for anyone. Not to mention two couples married on the same day. They have been loving partners, they have been generous, compassionate parents, they are the glue that holds a larger family together. They are all 80+ (or close to it) and still on their own steam and only slightly slowed down. Jack hikes up tall mountains, and Doug walks or sometimes runs a 5K every day. Margaret and Marie, well…they keep on keeping on.
There are so many lessons to be learned from these marriages, this perseverance, dependability and this kind of love. I could list all the lessons I have learned over the years from them, but I’ll sum it up with this….
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
- 1 Corinthians 13:4-8