PUNGO — My mother likes to tell a story about the time her relationship with my father almost did not happen.
She was in the third grade, and he was in the fifth grade. They had met a few years earlier when his family moved near her family on Bonney Road.
It was was the Friday before Valentine’s Day in 1959, and they were on the school bus heading home. She bought him a Valentine’s Day card and anxiously gave it to him as they found their seats.
My dad read the card, then read it out loud.
He grabbed his heart.
“Aw, my heart bleeds,” he said.
My mother was beyond embarrassed in front of the laughing children.
“I don’t like you anyway!” she yelled.
As the bus came to her stop, she flew out the door and ran down the road.
However, she tripped and fell on her elbows, picking up a piece of gravel in her right arm.
You can still see the little rock lodged above her elbow. She said it is a reminder of how long she has loved my father.
Thankfully, their rocky elementary school beginning did not put an end to their relationship.
They would talk through the years. In 1966, they decided to make their friendship a relationship. On Friday, July 7, 1967, their relationship became the marriage of my parents, Wayne and Faye Gilbert.
It has endured for fifty years.
The Vietnam War came early in their marriage, and my father was drafted four months after their wedding. For the next two years, they communicated through letters, and each of them would pray for the other as he fought through the jungle and she found her way as an Army wife.
His two year tour went by, and he came home in 1969 and decided not to rejoin the Army.
They burned their war letters, vowing not to relive those days apart, and they made their home in Virginia Beach.
Their marriage produced two children. I had the honor of being born on my mother’s 20th birthday. My sister, Casey, was born four years later. Later on, their grandchildren would become the apples of their eyes and the loves of their lives.
My parents say their love for each other and their trust in God are the two foundations of their marriage. They have told us that they would be nothing without their love and faith.
They have been residents of Pungo for the past 34 years. My mother enjoys cooking Sunday and holiday dinners for the family. They believe nothing is more important than family. It is important to spend time with those you love.
They say they are excited for the next 50 years, and that nothing will be impossible as long as they continue to love each other and keep their faith in God.
Happy 50th wedding anniversary, Mom and Dad.
We love you.
Wayne Gilbert II is Wayne and Faye Gilbert’s oldest child. He lives in Virginia Beach with his partner, Bruce. He is the superintendent of animal welfare for Newport News.
© 2017 Pungo Publishing Co., LLC