Today we celebrate with joy and gratitude Doug's parents, Paul and Eileen Fondell, my in-laws, who have been married for 60 years! The Diamond Anniversary! It is humbling to imagine how they have sustained their love, marriage, relationship, and family through these years. In an age when many can't see beyond the end of the week, let alone the end of a year, Paul and Eileen stand as a solid testimony to honoring vows made long, long ago.
Paul and Eileen are considered among the most hospitable people for anyone who has ever met them. In spite of having 5 kids, both of them working full-time and being pillars of their church, they always seemed to find a way to keep their front door open and their refrigerator full. The coffee pot is always on and no one would ever be turned away.
Paul and Eileen have loved their kids with the fierceness of a mama and papa bear! They pray for each of their kids and their families on a daily basis. Their heart soars when one experiences something joyful and they despair deeply when hardship hits. Their commitment to family is unwavering in spite of many events that could've caused wavering through the years and as a daughter-in-law, I too have felt that warm, wide embrace as I made my way into this family almost 17 years ago.
Long and old love is no small accomplishment. You weather the quirkiness of personality, and the strain of bad habits. You fully embrace the other person who is totally pervasive in your life, flaws and all, and eventually accept that certain things, for better or worse, will always be a part of your life. You travel together even when one is limping, slowing down as you see fit. You lift each other up when one is down, you cheer one another on when life pours joy at you. You sit side by side in comfortable chairs, surrounded by the comfort of being with one who knows everything about you. You revel in the joy of shared memories and you feel a bit scared for the future, when old age threatens this partnership that has been solid and sure. You embrace one another with love, you hug one another for support, you stain one another's shoulders with tears from some of the pain that weighs you down. And through it all, you continue to walk together, moving forward, linked in holy matrimony, never wondering for a minute if you'd ever want to try this journey alone.
Paul and Eileen...we celebrate your journey of life and love today. You are a model to us of love, fidelity, service, hospitality, joy and support. Your love for God fuels all that you do and we are so blessed by that incredible witness as well. We know the road is not easy and the days not always joyful, but we thank God for the love He gave you so long ago and for the ways you have allowed Him to nurture the love between you and also to fill you up with enough love to give away to all of us who benefit by being in your sphere of influence. We wish you joy in the journey today and thank God for the richness of life that your fidelity has provided for the rest of us.