FC: 50 Years Together | "Love endures long and is patient and kind; Love is never envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vain, does not display itself haughtily." 1 Corinthians 13:4
1: In the Beginning... | And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity" Colossians 3:14 | This story begins over 50 years ago when a young man attracted the attention of a young and beautiful country lady at the telephone company. I picture Dad in a hard hat and jeans, sporting a James Dean look that contradicted his kind and quiet disposition. I can only imagine his initial thoughts of Mom and her captivating smile. I'm certain that he wooed her with his musical talent and passion for woodworking. | James and Mamie Keith were married on November 3rd, 1962 in Kerrville, TX in front of a judge with two witnesses, Dell and Nell Wadell. I'm not making that up; their names were actually Dell and Nell Wadell. | Their back story is worth mentioning on this celebration of their marvelous 50 years of marriage, but this story is theirs to tell , and as for myself, I have little insight into their courtship. In honor of this occasion, we would like to try to express our gratitude to you, Mom and Dad...
2: This Day in History... | Events World Series Champions NFL Champions AFL Champions NBA Champions US Open Golf Icons "The Quote" Billboard #1 Songs | * October 22-28 was probably the closest we ever came to nuclear war. The Cuban Missile Crisis was officially over on November 2. * November 3, USSR performs nuclear test at Novaya Zamlya USSR * November 3, Wilt Chamberlain of NBA's San Francisco Warriors scores 72 points against Los Angeles in a losing effort. New York Yankees Green Bay Packers Dallas Texans Boston Celtics Jack Nicklaus Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield, Audrey Hepburn, Brigitte Bardot, Sophia Loren, Doris Day, Annette Funicello, Kim Novak * "Heeere's Johnny!" - Ed McMahon, Tonight Show * "Think small" - Volkswagen * "Bond, James Bond" - Sean Connery in Dr. No The Twist - Chubby Checker, Monster Mash - Bobby-Boris-Pickett & The Crypt Keepers, He's a Rebel - The Crystals
3: ...continued | Time's Man of the Year Miss America Miss USA The Scandal Habits & Movements Best Film Oscar Most Popular TV Shows | Pope John XXIII Maria Fletcher (Asheville, NC) Macel Leilani (Hawaii) Marilyn Monroe's death was caused by an overdose of sleeping pills. Conspiracy theories involve the mob, President John F. Kennedy and his brother, Robert Kennedy. Ex-husband and baseball great, Joe Dimaggio took care of all of the funeral arrangements, although the couple had divorced in 1954. * Limbo! * Reading Rachel Carson's book, "Silent Spring", which started the environmental movement Lawrence of Arabia 1. Beverly Hillbillies 2. Candid Camera 3. The Red Skelton Show 4. Bonanza 5. The Lucy Show 6. The Any Griffith Show 7. Ben Casey 8. The Danny Thomas Show 9. The Dick Van Dyke Show 10. Gunsmoke
4: Modeling a Loving, Patient Marriage... | "Love endures long and is patient and kind; Love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vain, does not display itself haughtily." 1 Corinthians 13:4 | I can only remark on the love, respect, and friendship illustrated on daily basis in your relationship. I aspire to embody this in my relationship with my family. You exemplify the qualities and values that should be carried into any healthy relationship: patience, slow to anger and quick to forgive, communicating regularly and often, serving one another, and recognizing that love is not just about taking, but about giving and sacrifice.
5: Impacting & Influencing Lives... | "For I know the plans I have for you, they are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11 | We cannot begin to adequately celebrate the union, the love, and the positive impact that you have had on the world, but hopefully through our individual perspectives, we can give you a modest view of your importance, in our lives and in the lives of others...
6: Kelley - Sacrifice & Love | “We proclaim Christ, admonishing and teaching our children with all wisdom, so that we may present all of our children perfect in Christ. To this end we labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in us, their parents.” Colossians 1:28-29 | Mom & Dad, We were an eccentric little band of characters meandering through life, sharing bathrooms and hilarity, coveting one another's desserts, raising cane, borrowing money, locking each other out of the house, causing pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, arguing, defending, and all the time strengthening the common thread that bound us all together. That collective thread not only binds early in life, but continues throughout a lifetime. Whether it is reuniting and providing a safe haven from a tumultuous world for three separated brothers, or taking in a middle-aged soul who had simply ran out of options, you have always been there for us. Mom and Dad, you could have chosen another life, one that was more convenient and filled with less strife; however, you both chose to be noble and open your hearts and home to us, and for that we are forever grateful. Whether it was tending to a skinned knee in my youth, or taking care of my weird leg plague as an adult, you were there.
7: Just as y'all were there for the formative years, it is a measure of your depth, caring, and kindness that you are still there much later in life with the same generosity and open hearts. No matter how many times I screwed up or lost my way, you were always there. | I always consider myself incredibly fortunate to have parents who implicitly understood the importance of demonstrating actions and providing opportunities for learning and growth without forcing the issue. Never was this more apparent than when you encouraged a passion in us boys, such as our love for basketball, and you built a basketball court in your backyard, much to the detriment of Pop's garden. These games were amazing, lasting all day and often well into the night, with only the faint shine of headlights to guide our games.
8: But y'all didn't stop there, as you also turned the garage into our very own playhouse. Little did you know that this place would turn into the central meeting place (and refuge) for all of our friends. The stream of folks was nearly constant and so were the difficulties. While this caused you both grief and headaches to no end, with our loud music, the aforementioned basketball games that never seemed to end, and the stream of visitors that should have required a turnstile to keep it orderly, it was an incredible gift to three young boys and their friends. | As if this weren't enough, you both took in some of these friends as if they were family when they had nowhere else to go, and they too found the open and loving house that we knew all too well. All this traffic created a wonderful tapestry of common threads that connected many lives, and there you both were at the center of this beautiful intertwining. | You may not have realized it at the time, or even now, but you both altered countless lives for the better through the years. The threads that bind us as a family also enabled us to then bond with others. While this is readily and beautifully apparent in your three incredible grandchildren, what you may not see is all of the lives that were affected by you, and in turn, the influence they had on others' lives. It is truly a majestic tapestry of existence that through your kindness and love, so many others have been affected for lifetimes to come.
9: While I write this to thank you personally for what you mean to me, I also do it as thanks to all those around us, be they family, friend, or people you will never meet. Your lives and acts therein are ripples in time, that stream and echo out in infinity, touching countless people and changing them for the good, and all this began ultimately from your union half a century ago. Finally, and most of all, you forever altered, immeasurably for the better, the lives of three young boys. And as you celebrate your marriage, I want you both to reflect on all of the good you've brought into the world and revel in that. Mom and Dad, you were and continue to be an inspiration and I love you both. Thank you from the bottom of my heart and Happy Anniversary. Love, Kelley
10: Jon - The Life That I Have | "Little children, let us not love [merely] in theory or in speech, but in deed and in truth [in practice and in sincerity]." John 3:18 | Mom and Dad, I cannot possibly portray your influence on my life, but I feel compelled to try on this wonderful occasion. My hope is that this gives you some perspective of my deep appreciation and love for you. | Our story begins somewhat tragically, but it has a joyful ending. We could have been victims of a life of abuse, a world where even a pregnant mom was not above the physical tirades of an angry man filled with rage, who was unsympathetic to the unborn child that did not move for over five days. Or, a little boy that assumed his baby brother had died after an accident that had separated them and placed them into the custody of the State. However, this world is nothing but a microcosm of our existence, and is only a fragment in our subconscious due to your actions and perseverance. The world we experienced was filled with love, kindness, and spiritual fortitude. I cannot begin to articulate the feelings of that four-year old boy rolling into the driveway on Main Street and intuitively knowing that was home and feeling secure. It is difficult to describe the overwhelming joy of recognizing your kid brother, who you thought was gone, and realize that he was coming to live with you in that happy place.
11: I cannot adequately explain the wonder and excitement of a young boy going to Port Aransas every year to play on the beach and fish with his newfound, extended family, or the importance of knowing that you are unconditionally loved, regardless of your mistakes, behavior, or the mood of your parents, who are willing to help you through your emotional and mental deficiencies caused by a troubled past. | These vivid memories of my childhood are lined with emotion more than imagery. The images I can recall are sporadic but intense. For example, I can recall Kel's bright orange, puffy vest as we are walking through a mall in San Antonio when you came to visit me at a foster home. Even at the age of four or five, I could acknowledge that he was my brother and that you were my real family. | I can remember Chris's swollen lips and his box of toy airplanes that he carried into the car when we picked him up to bring him home. I remember feeling the metal of the swing as Dad pushed me to and fro at Louise Hays park, and the recognition that this person was here to take care of me. I can recollect the feeling of Mom's gentle touch as she tended to a scratch and knowing that I am loved.
12: Because of you, I know peace where I may have only known anxiety; I know unconditional love where I may have only known rage and hatred; I know sacrifice where I may have only know selfishness; I know patience where I may have only known agitation and contempt; I know hard work and perseverance where I may have only known laziness and indifference. I recently heard this poem, "The Life That I Have", and I immediately thought of you. In my opinion, it embodies your sentiments and actions towards us. This is the mantra of ideal spouses and parents. I am thankful to God that he chose you to be my parents. I love you both so very much. Love, Jon | The Life That I Have by Leo Marks The life that I have Is all that I have And the life that I have Is yours. The love that I have Of the life that I have Is yours and yours and yours. A sleep I shall have A rest I shall have Yet death will be but a pause. For the peace of my years In the long green grass Will be yours and yours and yours.
13: Chris - Peace & Joy | "The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires, Since we live by the spirit, let us keep in step with the spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other." Galatians 5:22-26 | Mom & Dad, LOVE Romans 5:8 "God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Ephesians 5:1-2 "Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." | I use these verses to inspire me to action. I've been able to serve and give during some of the past years of my life and plan on getting more plugged in to that aspect of what I believe God has called all of us to do when Will gets a little older. There are many great examples I have seen in my parents, in various forms of media, and in movies that illustrate huge sacrifices made for the good of others in love.
14: You made a huge sacrifice 30 some-odd years ago so real to me that I will never be able to completely understand or thank you enough for it. I love a movie called Antoine Fisher. One of the reasons I love it is because it gives me a small glimpse into what my life, and maybe what my brother, Jon's, life could have been like if you had not adopted us. | Not that it would have been to that extreme, but the statistics are quite overwhelming as to the likelihood of children living a successful life after going through the foster care system. I know that God is ultimately the one that made this happen, but I believe He is a God of free will, and with that said, you still had to say "yes" when asked by God to make the decision to be God's hands and feet, walking out His love to three children that were not your own.
15: Because of your decision, I was also able to have two great, older brothers to grow up with. The love shown by the sacrifice you made in order to take in three boys that were not your own was an amazing model of love. Now that I have my own child, I'm getting a small glimpse of the responsibility, work, time, prayers, and money it takes to care for this amazing blessing. There was never a time that we didn't know that we were loved, even when we were in a lot of trouble. You were also very supportive of all that we did, and mainly we played sports. It was amazing how we could be playing a game with hundreds of spectators, but when we scored or made a good play, it was Mom's cheer (screech) that would rise above the noise of the crowd. | If people are around you for even a short amount of time, even if they don't know you, they can see that you exude the light that is referenced so many times in God's Word. Matthew 5:14 - "You are a light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven." We are a part of the light and love that you have passed down. This makes us proud, excited, and motivated to show others the light and love you gave and that you continue to show us and others. | Romans 12:2 - "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing, and perfect will."
16: Another great example is your new job, Mom. Your job is to help people that need a little extra assistance in the everyday tasks that they cannot do for themselves. Your first long-term client was a man that said that you brightened up his day. You have always been someone not satisfied with sitting around. This example illustrates what a true blessing you were to this man in the short amount of time that you spent with him. May we all, given the opportunity, spend time being a light to others as you have been, and continue to be. | JOY 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" | Joy is a lot of times confused with happiness, but unlike happiness, which is a fleeting feeling, joy is something much deeper. As I like to say, (I'm sure stolen from something I've read) feelings are many times deceiving. Some people, no matter what the circumstances, are not swayed in their joy. As Christians, if our foundation is Christ, He is the source of our joy and He does not waver. I think back through our lives and how quick you both were to bounce back from hard times, fights, or arguments with us or with others.
17: Being young, I thought, "They are just faking it...not being real with the people around them." Now, after years of understanding God's Word, I realize that your joy truly was, and was not just a "feeling". You knew what God required of you and you knew that there is joy in knowing who He is. You were quick to forgive, which made those times of struggle quickly dissipate in your hearts and return it to the joy and love of others. Anyone who knows you knows what a delight you both are. Whether you are playing with your grandchildren, playing dominoes, or facing hard times, your joy covers you (and we have definitely contributed to some of the trials and hardships that tested your joy and resolve). | PEACE Philippians 4:7 - "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Dad, God has given you the trait of being extremely peaceful. Looking back, I pray that I will handle things as well as you both did as I begin my journey as a parent (admit it, our teenage years could best be described as pure chaos). It is great to see how God brings people together in marriage. Dad, you have to be one of the most peaceful men I've ever known. | I'm not sure how many women, or men for that matter, wouldn't have reacted the way Mom did when all these crazy events were taking place. The damage that substance abuse has done, and continues to do in our family has definitely left its mark. So of course it was a serious subject in our household, and it rightfully should have been.
18: I wish I would have understood that then. We could have been running from the cops (scary, but true), not getting away from the cops (again, scary but true), getting into fights, or coming in reeking of alcohol, and yet you were always calm, while Mom was an emotional basket-case. Alcohol was mainly to blame for our largest chaotic family episodes. Dad, it was great to see you in those moments - always calm - when everyone else was angry, yelling, crying, etc. What a model you have been for us. I thank God for the emotionally steadfast person he made you to be, I love you both very much, Chris | Is this picture of our family in Port Aransas possible without the loving influence of Mom & Dad?
19: John -The Early Years | "My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry." James 1:19 | Mamie and James, my sister and brother-in-law, have been like parents to me. Without their help and support, I would never have been able to rise above the barefoot, timid boy of my childhood. I stayed with Mamie in Kerrville while going to Schreiner Institute and working at the telephone office with her. Before they got married, James used to fix lunch for Mamie and me. It was then I learned about temperance. James would serve us Dr. Pepper in these very small glasses - it was so good, but only a few swigs. | My most pleasant recollections of Mamie and James are centered around our vacations. There were always trips to the coast, charter boat fishing, boating to St. Joe's island, and just playing in the surf, sand, and sun. The best vacation trip was when I was a USNR officer working in D.C. Mamie, James, Marianne, and Stanley left the Camp Verde store in the hands of my Aunt and Dad and traveled to meet me in D.C. I took them sight-seeing around all of the landmarks there - the U.S. Capitol, the monuments (Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln), the Smithsonian Institute...
20: And we even went to the Bird's Nest - a lounge where guitarist Charley Bird played. While in D.C. we learned that Sister had a new baby boy - Kelley. From there, we drove north to New York City. What a trip - all us country folks in this large metropolis! But we proved to be quite resourceful, navigating the subways, soaring to the top of the Empire State Building, taking the ferry to the Statue of Liberty. We experienced the excitement of Times Square, and yes, even took in a Broadway play - "Dear World", starring Angela Lansbury. | So, we said goodbye to Broadway and drove right through Manhattan and headed north again. We went by where Stanley had spent time in the Army at Fort Meade in Maryland. We continued onward to where I had been stationed at the Naval Officer Candidate School in Newport, R.I. Next on our trip was Buzzard's Bay on Cape Cod, Mass. We stayed with some relatives there before driving on to Boston, with the cobblestone streets and all of the sights of the historic Revolutionary War. | The finale was the concert on the grass by the James River, performed by Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops. We drove back to D.C., where they dropped me off, and then continued on their vacation and back to the Camp Verde store.
21: Also, when I lived in the San Francisco Bay area, Mamie and James drove out there and I showed them the beautiful city by the bay - Fisherman's Wharf with that great clam chowder, Ghirardelli Square with great chocolate everything, The Wine Cellar, Lombard St, the cable cars, Coit Tower, Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Sausalito - such a great place to be. | And so, vacations were always a very special time for us - our family has always been close and adventuresome. And all the time in between, our family celebrated life together. Mamie and James have been the bedrock of that closeness - always there to make life a better place for our parents and all of the family. May God continue to bless you on your 50th Anniversary, and many more great years together. With Love, John Stevens
22: Fond Childhood Memories... | "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." Ephesians 6:4 | The Church Alarm Our alarm for church on Sunday morning was not your traditional buzzer. We instead were serenaded by the melodic screeching of the phrase "Boys...it's time to get up! Boys...come on...it's time to get up!" | After several minutes of this glass-breaking shrill, it would end with the screen door abruptly slamming shut, but then a short 3-5 minutes later, the hydraulics of the door would re-open and the build-up of the "Boooyyyys..." portion of the scream sounded like a car slamming on its brakes. "Booooyyys...it's time to get up...come on boys...you know that it's time to go to church!" Mom's stamina for this routine was more impressive than a Kenyan running an Olympic marathon. This process could go on for hours and hours. Her obstinacy in this matter was unmatched. On several Sunday mornings, our friends bombarded us with shoes or anything within reach to get us to get up, so that this painful parade of screeching and door-slamming would stop and they could get back to their hangover slumber. However, there was a reward for finally waking up - Mom's awesome cinnamon rolls.
23: Sixth Sense For someone adamantly against drinking beer, Mom sure could find it. We once hid beer under the hood of a broken-down Volkswagen bug, near Dad's shop, a good distance away from the house, and she found it! How is this possible without a sixth sense? Freakin' amazing! This is like a mother-in-law that says she hates sweets, but with an innate ability to sniff out a donut shop within a 10-mile radius. It's ironic, and a little cruel. | Trip to See the Mouse Obviously any reminiscing about cross-country family trips evokes the classic movie "National Lampoon's Vacation", at least it does for me. While our trek to Disney wasn't quite a dramatic, as there were no deaths, be they people or pets, no death defying wrecks in the desert, or Christy Brinkley sightings, much to my teenage chagrin. However, I know there were times when homicidal thoughts crept into our minds, if only for an instant, especially yours, Mom and Dad. Go on, it's okay, you can admit it - it is only natural when you're cooped up in a station wagon for almost a week with three rambunctious, impertinent, and impatient kids. And the smells emanating from the back seat were a mixture of feet, corn nuts, and some unidentifiable scent. I blame the unidentifiable scent on the massive amount of potted meat ingested at every rest stop between Texas and Florida. All of this was enough to test even the most patient of souls.
24: This journey seemed to last an eternity and I often think Dante had this trip in mind when he wrote of his rings. To borrow a phrase, "...it was the best of times and the worst of times." Such as the time when we got to ride in a pace car at the Talladega Raceway at well over a hundred miles per hour. How cool was that? Or when we rode the Magic Mountain rollercoaster, although Chris did almost fall off of the ride. There was also the excursion to one of the biggest malls we had ever seen and the three of us getting lost, being chased by dogs, but eventually finding our way back after scaling fences and running for what seemed like forever, arriving well after the mall had closed. Then, when we finally arrived at our destination, Mom and Dad insisted that we had to stay for the closing fireworks extravaganza. At this point we had had it, or at least I had, especially after chasing Chris and Jon around that massive park all day, and Chris frightening those poor tourists. This was how bad it had gotten; a teenager had lost his love of fireworks. And it's funny, too, I don't ever remember seeing that darned mouse. Although, I'm sure I did. Now, don't be mistaken, there were many "good" times on this journey, but as often is the case, it isn't the fairytale images or a perfect memory that sticks with us, but those trying times which test a family's metal. And after we all survived this trip, somehow I just knew that things were going to be okay. Those exasperating times, in retrospect, frequently offer the greatest humor and create the strongest bonds. And the trip to see the Mouse was definitely one of those times.
25: Tivy Road Trips Our road trips to watch the Tivy Fighting Antlers had one common theme. I am a little hesitant to mention this, since it isn't the most flattering image, but in retrospect is very comical. Now, I should say that Dad is the kindest and most patient person you will ever meet, but for some reason, when he was driving a car full of kids with mom as the navigator, a switch would flip and he became extremely irritable on any missed exit. So, this common thread to our road trip was the inevitable, irritated tirade of "Dammit...woman! It was back THERE...how did you miss that?", while Mom questioned every decision he had previously made since entering the city. It was actually very entertaining and a very funny memory that we can now relate to.
26: In Conclusion... In conclusion, we would like to reiterate the impact and influence of your love and patience on our lives and everyone around you. We love you and we hope you understand the magnitude and breadth of your legacy. | Surprise Birthday Party One of the warmest memories, both figuratively and literally, is a swim meet that was an hour and a half away from home, in New Braunfels, I believe, on my birthday. Mom waited out this all day event with Chris and me at the end of June, in the heat, where I swam a total of two heats. After a tiring drive back home, I was surprised to find friends in our backyard to celebrate my birthday. I received a ton of He-Man action figures. It was a great day, and it reveals Mom's patience and serenity. It was a special day for me that I will always remember.
32: And they lived Happily Ever After...