One summer a friend of mine and I decided to schedule visits with the elderly of our congregation. Our initial goal was simply get to know them, since they all seemed to know us and our interests and genealogies. It didn’t take long, however, for us to realize what we were learning was more than their names.

One of the neatest things we learned was how couples met and their “love histories.” One woman told me that she and her husband eloped when she was 16. When you’ve got an uncle who is the sheriff, the mayor and the county preacher, you can’t exactly get away with any old scandal! The couple jumped the state border to get married.

Another woman I talked to said her first date with her husband was to the prom. After that they would walk each other home from school and hang out. The rest, she said, “is history.”

When my grandparents met, my grandma said she knew right away that she and Grandpa were going to get married. She said it seemed like forever until he figured it out too.

I wonder what it’s like to be married to someone for more than 50 years. Many of the women I’ve visited with are widows now. Can you imagine how hard it would be to live alone after having spent the last 50 years with someone you love and with whom you have raised children and grandchildren? I certainly cannot, but hearing their memories makes me dream about how wonderful love must be after a 50th wedding anniversary.

This semester I am studying Nursing Care of the Older Adult at Greencroft, where we meet with people for an hour a week just to listen to their stories. This is an assignment everyone should have: Go get advice from the folks who’ve already experienced the road ahead. Ask them how they met their spouse, if they went to high school, how they got their name. Ask them anything that sparks your interest. After all, they were 11-, 18-, 22-, 30-, and 43-years-old once upon a time, too.