Last week Prince Philip died at age 99 after 73 years of marriage to Elizabeth. They met when she was 13 and he was a dashing young naval cadet. They married eight years later, five years before she unexpectedly ascended to the throne as queen. Their marriage has been an enduring love story for almost three-quarters of a century.
Few marriages are as well known as Elizabeth and Philip. But, in spite of all the odds against it, more than half of all those who make their vows at the altar remain married to one another throughout their lives.
Alexander and Jeanette Toczko met when they were eight years old in 1927 and fell in love. Thirteen years later they married each other. Seventy-five years after they said their vows, they knew they were dying.
Alexander played golf into his nineties and remained active until he broke his hip. Their children knew how much they wanted to be together and had their beds placed side-by-side in their home. On June 17, 2015, Alexander died in his wife’s arms. His wife hugged him and said,
“See this is what you wanted. You died in my arms, and I love you. I love you. Wait for me. I’ll be there soon.”
In less than 24 hours Jeanette joined her husband. They were buried on June 29, 2015 in San Diego, California.
I understand a little of how Alexander and Jeanette felt about each other. My wife and I celebrated our 50th anniversary in 2018. I married her when she was 19 and I was an older and wiser 22. In a little church in Freeport, Texas we said our vows and promised to love and cherish each other until death. A few years ago, I wrote a poem in which I tried to capture my feelings:
Where did she come from?
This woman who walked into my life
When I was young,
Who joined her life to mine,
And all the time
My life was joined to hers.
Who bore my children,
Who raised them and taught them
By her example, how to love
By loving me.
How did this happen
That she became more than my lover
And my friend;
That she became my very soul?
Marriage is God’s wonderful gift to the human race. He bestowed it in the garden when He saw that Adam was lonely. God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, took from his side a rib, and fashioned the first bride. When he saw her, Adam said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:21-24).
God gave us marriage as a mysterious bond and endowed us with the awesome power to pro-create. “Be fruitful and multiply,” God said. (Genesis 1:28). And so we did. It is the one command we have been pretty good at.