CELEBRATION!!! Thursday evening, May 24, Rebekah and I hosted a quiet dinner to mark a monumental and increasingly rare accomplishment. My parents were celebrating 60 years of faithful, committed marriage.
Grace Ellen Watts Kemp and David Frederick Maul were married at Raleigh Baptist church – about 40 miles east of London – in the early afternoon of May 24, 1952. He was 23, and she was only 20.
My dad first became interested in his bride-to-be right after he returned from service with the British Army in the late 40’s (He’d been sorting things out in Palestine, and then Greece. I think he may need to go back for a “do-over”). The story goes that David Maul showed up at an inter-denominational prayer event and heard Grace Kemp pray aloud. He didn’t actually see her, but was enchanted with her voice and drawn to her spirit when she prayed.
That’s right, people, love doesn’t get much holier than that!
LETTER FROM THE PALACE: There’s another diamond anniversary going on in the U.K. right now, as Queen Elizabeth II is preparing to celebrate 60-years on the throne of England (June 3). She may have a lot going on right now, but that didn’t stop Her Majesty from remembering my mum and dad, and she honored them with a letter of congratulations (which, I’m sure, masks her disappointment over not snagging David for herself back in the day).
I don’t know what the statistics are, but with the increase in divorce a Diamond Wedding Anniversary is enough of a rarity to justify even the extra postage to Florida. Thanks, Elizabeth R, we appreciate it.
GOURMET: The family Disney cruise was a lot of fun, but Rebekah and I wanted to host a special dinner on the day itself. So I told my parents that I would prepare exactly what they’d like. Mum picked Salmon Phyllo and I searched the Internet for the best looking recipe.
I’ve never handled paper-thin pastry before, but somehow the meal turned out beyond amazing. The “magic” touch was the spinach sauce I prepared to go on top of the fish but still inside the pastry. It involved sauteed shallots and garlic, grated gouda cheese, cream cheese, fresh spinach and a variety of spices. All that with wild rice, mixed vegetables and fresh bread. The recipe difficulty level was described as “adventurous” but it was well worth the hard work.
FAMILY: Good food or not, what made the event for my folks was family. My niece Hannah came up from Palmetto, with her husband Andrew and their children, Haley and Hudson.
After dinner my mum sat at the piano and we sang a couple of their wedding hymns, My God I thank thee, who hast made the earth so bright… and O perfect love, all human thought transcending….
Listen to these two verses, one from each hymn, and hear them in light of the fact that my brother, Geoff, has only so recently passed away:
I thank thee more that all our joy Is touched with pain; That shadows fall on brightest hours, That thorns remain: So that earth’s bliss may be our guide, And not our chain.
Grant them the joy which brightens earthly sorrow; Grant them the peace which calms all earthly strife, And to life’s day the glorious unknown morrow, That dawns upon eternal love and life.
This is still my prayer for my parents, and for all of us who are committed to the practice of faithful love. I am so grateful for my family, for the witness of love that – while not perfect – is anchored in the perfect love that God shares with us on a day-by-day basis.
In love, and because of love – DEREK