At a grand-niece’s wedding in Louisiana last week, Marv and I participated in a  “longest married couple dance” for the first time. I had no expectations other than knowing that we would be making fools of ourselves as I feel we do whenever we (try to) dance.

We were both raised to think dancing was wrong, so never learned how. Once, though, we signed up for dancing lessons. Midway through our first lesson, as I fought following Marv’s lead, the dance instructor strolled out to us in the middle of the floor and casually said, “This is not working for you two.”

How astute of him! We left and never returned, but that has never stopped Marv from happily pulling me out to the dance floor.

So last Saturday, as the DJ called off numbers of years married and couples married less than the latest number called faded to the sidelines, imagine my surprise at finding us left on the floor with just two other couples, both of whom were Marv’s siblings. Marv is number seven of the original Roelofs’ clan of nine, and his siblings left on the floor with us were numbers three and nine.

Looking around (while stumbling on Marv’s toes), I felt a sudden sense of warmth and coziness and all good things. The nine in this adopted family of mine have been through what we call life, with its many ups and downs. And it seems more downs that up as we age.

A sense of pride took over as I quickly calculated that we would be the second to the last to leave. Number nine was married a few months after us, so they’d have to leave first! I should have known to be humble, though, because then the DJ hopped from forty-six to fifty-three years. As of that minute, Marv and I had been married ONLY forty-nine years (one month, twenty-seven days, and six hours).

But the prize for being married the longest went to a most deserving couple: Marv’s sister Joan (pronounced Jo-an) and her husband Mel. They will be married sixty years on December 28. For hanging on and in with Mel all these years, Joan was given the bridal bouquet.

When we returned to the hotel, I took this picture. I think their expressions exemplify the Scripture reading during the wedding ceremony from Romans 12: Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil: cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.

So we wish you a happy sixtieth, Joan and Mel! Your younger brother says to tell you that, whenever you’re ready, you can send us the airfare to Texas, and we’ll be right on down to celebrate with you all….