On September 9th, 2013 Heidi’s grandma went to be with Jesus. Nana, as we called her, was one of the most godly and loving women we’ve ever known. Her kindness, generosity, sweet spirit, and love for what was good and right were contagious. She impacted her entire family and touched the lives of everyone who knew her.
Nana was married for 38 years to the love of her life, Elmer (Papa). They raised their daughter, traveled, and shared a partnership in life and love. When she was just 60, they were on their way back from the National Prayer Breakfast and in a connecting airport Elmer suffered a fatal heart attack.
There’s nothing wrong with remarriage, but Nana couldn’t imagine ever marrying anyone else. Elmer was the love of her life. For the next 42 years she kept his picture in her room, spoke of him longingly, and looked forward to seeing him again. And now, in the presence of Jesus, they are reunited. If you did the quick math, Nana lived just over 102 years!
What is it that kept her heart tied to her husband for 42 years after marriage? Think about it: no touching, no words of affirmation, no gifts, no quality time, no acts of service. How did that love stay alive? Here are some qualities in their marriage that we believe brought health and vitality to their marriage:
- They shared a common faith in Jesus Christ. At their core beliefs they were united in hope and in purpose.
- They shared a sense of humor. Years after she had lost her husband, Nana would tell stories that still tickled her of things Papa would do or predicaments they got into.
- They traveled together. Studies have shown that couples who travel together have greater joy and intimacy in their marriage. That certainly proved true for them.
- They valued each other. Nana and Papa had a high regard for each other’s opinion and partnership in life.
- They gave generously together. Whatever they had, they shared. That life of giving and selflessness gave them a purpose and joy as they lifted up others in need.
We still miss our Nana, and yet we celebrate the life she lived and the love she modeled. Her love for her husband spanned over 80 years because of the five key pillars they built into their marriage.
Which of these qualities do you want to work on as you intentionally build your marriage?