When I was twenty-five, my father died after battling a chronic illness for ten years. We were deeply grieved and also relieved — relieved for dad, he was more than ready to go home to the Lord and relieved for mom who had so valiantly cared for him. Then three years later, twenty-five years ago on February 12, mom remarried a great man whom we had known for years. His wife, Nell, had died of cancer. His kids had been our friends years earlier when we lived in the same town.
Now, more well over twenty grandchildren later, Margaret and Grady Jolly are celebrating their silver anniversary. Unfortunately I won't be there to celebrate. I'm off to Uganda with Compassion International to do what mom and dad had trained me to do — care for those who need God's care and grace. What a great blessing their marriage has been to all of us! They live in an old farmhouse just outside of town. Instead of growing up without a grandfather nearby, our children have been blessed by Grady. My mom has always had a way of sharing faith with her grandchildren, and she has been a blessing to our "step-nephews" and "step-nieces." Our kids grew up going to the farm to spend time in the summer with Mimi and Grandfather, surrounded by their love, faith, and wisdom.
When they married, I'm not sure any of us anticipated that they would share twenty-five wonderful years together, but they have. Working with Meals on Wheels, helping those who are hungry at the food pantry, teaching classes, visiting the sick, and encouraging those in need of support, these two have been a blessing to hundreds upon hundreds. There is no telling how many university students have eaten at their table over the years. What a blessing these twenty-five years have been!
When they married, Mom and Grady were supported by pretty much everyone in their decision except for two in the family who had a bit of reluctance. One was mom's mother-in-law; we called her Granny. The other was Grady's father-in-law; we called him Pap-Paw. Each had lost both their spouse and their child. I know it had to be hard to watch and wonder how Mom and Grady's families would blend and how they would fit. To our great amazement, about a year after Mom and Grady married, Pap-Paw was driving from Abilene to San Antonio to court Granny. Before long, they married — yeah, try to figure out our family tree with my Grandmother marrying my step grandfather: we are all our own cousins! They enjoyed wonderful years together and our family grew closer and we shared even deeper bonds.
So while I am far away, doing what I've learned from them to do, I want to say, "Happy Anniversary! Thanks for the great example, the overflowing love, and for the blessing of being family. We all love you!"
And for those who struggle with parents who re-marry late in life, please know that for many of us, this has been a great blessing and wonderful opportunity for our kids to learn the preciousness of family love.
Keep up with Phil's Trip to Uganda on His Blog: