On New Year's Eve in 1965 a young couple stood before a minister in the house of the young man's parents.  The house, now long since gone, built around the turn of the century, stood in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, many miles from the Charlottesville, Virginia, home of the young woman. 

The gathering there included only the young man's family, all of whom must have been skeptical about the chances for the success of the marriage beginning that day. The couple had known each other only about four months, and had spent most of those four months separated by hundreds of miles of telephone line. 

She had ridden the train to Atlanta a few days earlier, back when train lines had names; this line had been called the "Nancy Hanks."  He picked her up at Union Station, a magnificent depot, now also long since gone. He spotted her coming up the enormous marble stairs from the platform to the main floor, also marble. It was a beautiful scene, this pretty girl coming towards him in this splendid setting.

The ceremony was brief, taking place in the living room before the fire place.  She was so nervous -- standing among these strangers -- that she giggled; he hoped that he would remember that he was supposed to say "I will" instead of "I do."  Nervous as they were, they should have been terrified, taking such a serious step when they were barely out of their teens.  They didn't know much about marriage, they knew only that they wanted to be together.

In the thirty-four years since that New Year's Eve, the world has changed a millennium’s worth.  The man and woman who promised so much to each other on that day have changed, also.  Even the love that these two held for one another has changed; it has grown into something beyond anything either could have imagined as twenty year olds.  For better; for worse, For richer; for poorer, In sickness and in health...all of this made their love what it is today.

This is my Anniversary card to you, dearest Beverly; my heart is open for all to see.  I still see you as that pretty young girl climbing those marble stairs in that train station thirty-four years ago, your beauty as timeless as the love in my heart for you.  I will love and cherish you forever.


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