May 22,2022

What kind of title is this? Where are you going with it? Hang on, and you will see!

Ask any of my former parishoners and they will tell you I can take any title and build a good story/sermon around it. This will be one such occasion.

Sandra and I have our 58th Wedding anniversary coming up on November 8, 2022. We have always enjoyed giving each other something that will benefit both of us.

Usually, it would be a night on the town together, ending up with a fine meal that we would enjoy together at a favorite restaurant. Those outings were particularly enjoyable while we still had children at home, and someone (usually one of our sets of parents) would volunteer to babysit for us. We loved the togetherness and privacy even more than the gourmet meal we would be eating.

I will never forget one of those anniversary outings we had. Sandra and I both were good friends with a man who had just opened a small Mom and Pop grocery store out in the boonies where we lived. I had shared with him where we would be eating later that evening. He asked me if we had ever had one of the restaurant’s famous shrimp cocktails? I told him no and that we could barely afford the regular rib-eye steak we usually bought.

The next thing that he did shocked me. He handed me a crisp 20-dollar bill, and said for me to buy us one of those shrimp cocktails. Then he sort of held me to a vow. He said to not ever tell anyone he had bought the cocktails for us. I told him I would not.

It took me a while to reason why he wanted nobody to know. He and his wife were just getting started in their new grocery store business and I already knew his wife was very frugal with every penny they spent. And she was famous for chewing him out if she thought he had done something wrong. But since both are new deceased, I think I can tell Sandra: IT WAS TROY!

So, here I go getting ready to tell you what Sandra and I planned for anniversary number 58, and Sandra is much more responsible than I for making this happen.

Sandra has always been frugal too. So, about a month ago, Cruise Line Ships began sending out their early-bird specials to get, especially former passengers, to book a cruise with them. On this day, she got an offer from Carnival Cruise Lines for us to book a cruise with them. She ran to my office with the cruise and date already picked out. She said she had never seen a cruise so inexpensive.

I told her to block out the time and make all the arrangements. She said she would, and she did. SO, we took a cruise much earlier than out 58th Wedding Anniversary! I am happy that we did, because there is no way to describe how much Sandra enjoyed that cruise!

There were islands to hop off the ship to go and explore, and we did that briefly. But both of us seemed to have waxed younger and more romantic. Both of us agreed we would rather be with each other doing something aboard the ship than go exploring an already-seen island.

It was a five-night cruise, so I cannot highlight everything we did and enjoyed so much. We mutually enjoyed the evening meal where everyone dresses up and has a great meal of their choice.

Now, let me dazzle you with each of our favorite events while on the ship.

I will start with Sandra. (Warning: hold on and see what this out-of character woman did that even shocked me!)

After what appeared to be a lull in all the diners eating, the lights were lowered just for a very romantic interlude, and the Master of Ceremonies announced: EVERYONE ON THE FLOOR AND PICK A PARTNER TO DANCE WITH!

I sat like a rock, just to watch and enjoy. But, Sandra???? (and she had not had anything to drink) She searched through the darkened atmosphere, passed right by a couple of average-looking guys, grabbed up the most handsome man on the floor and threw her arms around him, and BOY did they dance. He was throwing her around in circles and oh, you should have seen her twisting and shaking her butt! Soon, a spotlight picked her out, unawares, and she WAS the show. I never saw her smiling so broadly. The whole event lasted about 20 minutes and then the lights brightened and everyone went back to eating.

As Sandra and I were leaving the dining hall, a man approached us and said that his mother got so much pleasure out of Sandra’s show that she videoed the whole event and wanted to know if we would like a copy of the videotape. They got my email address and said they would send us a copy. IT WILL BE ONE FOR ALL TO REMEMBER.

NOW, for my favorite part of the cruise (although not even a close second to how much I saw Sandra enjoying herself.) The Carnival Cruise Line sponsored a real tear-jerking tribute to all military veterans.

The Master of Ceremonies was a Marine Corps Captain, and he did an excellent job. Songs were sung and beautiful backdrops were made for each branch of the military. Sandra and I heard and saw sobbing and tears shed throughout the event. Finally, the older veteran were invited to come onstage. I was placed front and center, to my surprise. I was asked (along with others) if we would like to make some comments.

I immediately rose and made a great honor and tribute to Granddaddy Jay Sinclair, who fought in combat during World War One. By the time those who spoke onstage wanted to, there was not one dry eye in the whole auditorium.

AFTER dismissal, I made my way to the rear of the auditorium to tell the CAPTAIN HE HAD CERTAINLY POURED HIS HEART INTO PUTTING ON AN EXCELLENT PROGRAM. He said to me, “Speaking of heart, I am now in the final stages of heart cancer.” We saluted each other, and I left wiping tears.

Oh, are you still curious about the title?

Let me share with you my morning quote of the day:

We haven’t yet dreamed big enough dreams of what we could mean to one another. – Larry Crabb, CONNECTING (1977)

This cannot be proven theologically, but I believe Sandra and I will have all eternity to keep knowing each other and loving each other.

We have both admitted that we would do it all over again!


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