THIRTY YEARS WITH THE WRONG WOMAN
by David Sisler
It is a song that never made the Top 40 list. To my knowledge, it has been sung by only two men, to very limited audiences. It has only two lines, and the tune is as prescribed by Melvin David Sisler, Sr., 51 years ago. I first heard my Dad sing it to my Mom, every year on April 6, their wedding anniversary. Following Dad's lead, I have been singing it to Bonnie every year on August 24, our wedding anniversary.
It is required that you sing it with a twinkle in your eye (if you do not, that eye may change colors — to black and blue).
"Thirty years with the wrong woman,
Is a mighty long time."
The night we met, Friday, January 19, 1968, I picked Bonnie up in a bar. Actually, we had gone to "Bert's," the local college hang-out, with mutual friends. It must have been all of the Pepsi I quaffed, because I asked her if I could walk her home. She was the only other person in the place who was drinking the soft stuff, and it affected her as well. She said, "Yes."
The next night we went to see To Sir, With Love. Four days later, with a ten day semester break in between, I looked deeply into her eyes and said, "Wilt thou?" It must have been hot that February night, because she wilted. We were married less than seven months later.
Not long after we set a wedding date, Bonnie had an attack of appendicitis. She should have taken it as a warning, I think. While recovering at home, she got out her college year book and showed my picture to her Mom and Dad. James Alvey Carter took one look at my photo and asked, "You're going to marry that?" She told me she kept her Dad's gaze and nodded fiercely in the affirmative.
Marriage has been for us, a moving experience. We have moved 22 times; 21 of those moves took place in first 20 years. We moved so often that when the kids were younger and saw a U-Haul truck on the road, they would say, "There goes Daddy's truck!"
For 17 years we served in full-time Christian ministry, getting our mail in ten different cities, seven different addresses in three of them. When we moved to our own house on Cap Chat Street eleven years ago, Bonnie told me that if I moved her one more time she would divorce me. I did. She did not.
I have dragged her up and down the Atlantic seaboard and across the Atlantic, to Russia. She has followed me from Pentecostalism to Methodism. And always she responded with one simple phrase: "Just you and me, Babe."
For the first 14 years of our marriage, we spent Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's on the road, driving from where we happened to be stationed at the time to spend the holidays with my parents and hers. A Sisler holiday tradition was packing the kids into the back seat and the suitcases into the trunk.
One of the first years we stayed home at Christmas time, we went into the woods and chopped our own tree. I overruled Bonnie's choice and made the selection. I should have listened to her (one of many times). That tree brought into our home the aroma of fresh cut pine and the scuttling of tens of thousands of tiny insect feet. As I opened the front door and threw the tree out, decorations and all, Bonnie crumpled into the living room floor and in tears asked, "God, why did you put bugs on my Christmas tree?" In that simple statement she taught me more about prayer than I had learned reading a dozen books — if something's bugging you, just ask God. He does not mind. Simple. And it works.
It was a long time ago, and not so long ago, that we stood in the sight of God and in the presence of many witnesses, and as prompted by the Reverend D. Lloyd Abbott, said that this marriage was for all time, for better and for worse. Our Moms cried. Our Dads sniffled. My bride said her vows so quietly I could barely hear her, but she meant every word. Her determination, her commitment, her confidence in the God in whose name we took our vows, has been the one constant in our marriage. Bonnie's readiness to defend me, to forgive me, to love me, has forged a husband "full of confidence in her," a husband "who lacks nothing of value."
Thirty years with the wrong woman is a mighty long time, but Bonnie, let's go for the record. Just you and me, Babe.
Published in the Augusta Chronicle 8/22/98
Copyright 1998 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.
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