Sharon and I just passed our 40th wedding anniversary, a milestone of sorts. Four decades after eloping from Bossier City/Barksdale AFB, LA to Marshall, TX on a Wednesday morning July 27, 1971 and we are somehow still together.
No small part of the why we are still together is that on our 25th anniversary we had a full wedding ceremony where her father got to give her away and finally forgave me. But that is not the why or our marriage success. The why is that on our 25th anniversary we formally dedicated our marriage to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. That was/is the why.
But that is not what this is about – this is about Sharon. You see she retired from her civil service position with the U.S. Air Force after 31.5 years when we had been married almost 36.5 years. At her retirement ceremony in December 2007 I was permitted to speak. The following paragraphs reflect closely what I said about Sharon then followed by a few updates.
Some things you should know about Sharon.
She has worked in a directorate at Air Force Material Command (AFMC) Headquarters for a number of years in education and training. Specifically, she worked in education and education requirements for AFMC for many years. She did this with only an Associate’s Degree, but things are not always what they seem.
You see I got a B.S. E.E. degree at age 41, but there was a problem with the diploma. Sharon’s name was not on it along with mine. I would not have that diploma without her help and assistance. She took care of everything – the house, the car, our two children, our two dogs, and me – so I could chase that degree.
Prior to my graduation, Sharon became ill, deathly ill. We were afraid she would die. Feeling great guilt, I went to her in the hospital, poured out my heart about how I was going to quit school and be a real help at home and with our children.
She crooked her finger and motioned for me to come closer. I did and when I was close enough, she grabbed my collar and pulled my ear near her lips. Then in a dry raspy voice she said, “IF YOU QUIT AND I LIVE, I WILL KILL YOU.” I didn’t quit.
I tell you all of this so you will understand when I say Sharon has a PhD in motivation.
She also has number of Doctorates you may or may not be aware of and I would like to list them for you. She has
- A Doctorate in Dedication – she never does a job halfway
- A Doctorate in Character – she never compromised her values
- A Doctorate in Get It Done – she was never deterred by having to learn something new or acquiring new skills, doing whatever was required to get the job done
- A Doctorate in Caring – she always strives not to hurt others, even if …
- A Doctorate in Parenting – while working full time and helping me chase a degree and with me traveling often due to work, she raised (with some small help from me) two wonderful children
- A Doctorate in Love – For God, for Family, for Country and I would have to say the one defining Doctorate for Sharon Driver it would be her Doctorate in Love.
Since her retirement she ran the Dayton Chess Club for over a year by herself when I took a job in the sandbox. Afterwards, she also took on almost all the family and chess club duties while I earned a Master of Arts degree in Christian Studies, even tolerating rising at one and two a.m. to proof read papers week after week over an 18 month period.
As we just celebrated our 40th anniversary, I think it is all right to provide my concluding remarks at Sharon’s retirement ceremony where I presented her with five individual flowers brought forward by our two grandchildren at the time – Ethan and Rheya. The thoughts behind the flowers still apply today.
First - A Yellow Rose to signify gratitude for the deep friendship God has granted us
Second - Another Yellow Rose to signify the promise of a new beginning that awaits you (us)
Third - A White Rose with Red Tip to signify the joy and happiness we have enjoyed together
Fourth - Another White Rose with Red Tip to signify the joy and happiness that awaits us in our future
Fifth (and final) - A Single Red Rose to signify my love for you and it is without thorns to symbolize “Love at first sight” from the first moment I set my eyes upon you, when God placed you in my heart.
(For those who want to know, just as different flowers have different meanings, the same flower may have different meanings for a given occasion.)
Sharon continues being Sharon – now accepting my plan/desire to Pastor a church or to go wherever God may send us.
In the interim she helps me with a Monday evening Bible study, running the chess club so I can play on occasion, running an online ‘bingo’ game for a quilting group, solving jigsaw puzzles online against the clock to see just how fast she can do a 48 piece puzzle, setting up a craft day at church about once a month, volunteering us (!) to cook lunch at church, she has also remodeled a mezzanine from office space to our new home and took care of the lion’s share of the move, providing incredible support to me on my new diet (no sweets) and walking regimen.
Oh, did I mention she quilts?