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  • Writer's picturesonnyholmes

Forty-three years ago

At 2:00 p.m. forty-three years ago today this beautiful young woman became my bride. She was an administrator in the Advertising Department of Carolina Power and Light Company and I was an assistant branch manager and loan officer with North Carolina National Bank. We were married in the chapel of Hayes Barton Baptist Church by Dr. T.L Cashwell, our pastor. It was a fitting place since our courtship began and flourished in the singles department of the church. We laugh that our relationship basically happened undercover. Please note that I did not say under covers. It was just courtesy of the times that the single men in our group didn't date the single women, an unwritten rule to respect the older career singles dealing with life alone. But, they weren't really surprised when we announced our engagement. They saw it is our eyes. You see, we must realize, when your hearts on fire, smoke gets in your eyes.

Ours has been an interesting journey. Harriet and I are as different as Ralph and Alice Kramden (Google it), he with the schemes and dreaming and she the stable, balanced, mature one. They were years of adjustment as we moved several times for new work assignments, purchased a first house, welcomed Liz and Brian into our world, built a house, and then followed God's call to seminary, four churches, and thirty-five years of pastoral service. Reflecting on those years today make me truly thankful for each one. A couple of thoughts bring a smile and prayer of thanksgiving on our forty-third----

1. Harriet always said yes. When the bank moved us, when i changed careers

from banking to hospital financial administration, and when we knew his call to

the ministry, she was always alongside affirming each move. The only time she

ever said "no" was when the ministry thing first happened. She said she would

go anywhere with me to answer that call----Africa, the jungles of South

America, the deserts of the Middle East---anywhere except Charleston, SC. Of

course, we've spent 18 of our ministry years in the Charleston area, and

another short life-time attending events at The Citadel. So, God has the last

laugh on us. Never say never to God.

2. Harriet fulfilled a needed role in every pastor's life, perhaps in all men. We've

never had arguments about who was going to be the spiritual leader of our

house. Well, except in the off-season when she owned the TV remote. But,

Harriet has always been my closest spiritual advisor. Many friends know that I

refer to her as the Assistant Holy Spirit. Nothing irreverent or sacrilegious is

meant by that reference. God speaks to me in many ways. But, when I'm at

odds about something, double-minded, or experiencing resistance and

stubbornness in hearing God's voice, she is ready with a word of counsel to

re-direct my thinking. And, the look sometimes, if you know what I mean. On

many occasions she has provided wisdom that has helped me through some

trying and perplexing times.

3. Harriet has always been the balance to my explosive personality. I would

restrict the children for thirty-seven years or give away the farm to some needy

person or decide that the shootings would commence in the morning. She has

always brought stability and maturity to my often childish ways.

4. Harriet has been my strength when circumstances laid me low. This has been

true in all of our forty-three years, but most especially when I was diagnosed

with stage four cancer in 2004, and since the death of our son in 2011. There

was always a quiet, determined resolve that I can only define as spiritual

steadfastness. Except when the TV remote thing is boiling up she always brings

mature decision-making to every life situation. Then, there's QVC.

5. Harriet has always placed her family first and above herself. Her love and dedication to Liz and Brian, and now Scott, John Lewis, Laura, and Katie has

consistently filled the gaps when church responsibilities or ministry required

my absence.

And, for forty-three years today she has been the love of my life, my best friend, and a life partner that has blessed and edified my life. So, today, forty-three years since that day at Hayes Barton Baptist Church, I am grateful and humbled for the privilege of sharing this life with her.

Harriet Holmes, I love, respect, and appreciate you.

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