When it comes to true love, the long-lasting, “sitting on the front porch next to you when we’re eighty” kind of love, there isn’t a lot of inspiration to go on these days. Break-ups and make-ups abound, and when someone as hot and funny as Jennifer Aniston can’t keep a steady boyfriend, the rest of us don’t feel like we have much of a chance. When I start to feel a little cynical about love and think the days of passionate, romantic, make you crazy kind of love no longer stands the test of time, I take a look at these two.
Meet John and Johnette Jackson. Yes, those are their real names: John and Johnette. They met when he was 19, she was 20. (She always brags she married a younger man.) He went into the soda fountain where she worked and ordered a chocolate coke. He came back the next day with two women from his work to size her up and see if she might be a good prospect for a date. Turns out they thought she looked worthy, so he did. She accepted, but on the eve of their first date, she decided she didn’t know enough about him to go on a date alone with this new stranger, so she went out with another fella. Realizing he’d been stood up, John went driving around. Lo and behold, he sees Johnette out at the movies. With the other guy! What are the odds? Now, most men would seeth with anger and probably have a few choice words muttering under their breath. Not John Jackson. He was a glutton for punishment, and found himself right back at the soda fountain the next week asking her out again. Johnette likes to say he knew a good thing when he saw it.
After six months of dates and countless black cows later (it’s a fancy name for a root beer,) they married at a pastor’s house on June 27th, 1942. John borrowed $5 from his dad to pay the minister. Johnette wore a white eyelet dress and bright red heels, and there was no wedding cake, no honeymoon, no dancing. Just two people who barely knew each other, getting married and about to face three years apart when John was sent to Guam in WWII. Fast forward 69 years later, and they are still together, every single day. With a shared love for the Lord, Wendy’s chicken nuggets, and laughter, these two are a quirky inspiration. Two vastly different personalities, two different humors, two different temperaments…and yet, somehow these two made it work beautifully.
I have a confession. John and Johnette are my grandparents, and yesterday was the celebration of their 69th year together. We staged a funny vow renewal on the lake, complete with bouquet, tuxedo t-shirt, and psuedo-minister. They recited their vows one more time, with the same love, humor, and joy they did almost seven decades ago. (You’d have to have a sense of humor if you’re reciting wedding vows with a tuxedo t-shirt pinned to your chest.) After declaring their love and John kissing the bride, they happily ate celebratory dinner and enjoyed their very first wedding cake.
Moments like these make you wonder: Can true love last a lifetime? John and Johnette make it look so easy, though they’ll tell you it hasn’t always been and still requires a lot of sacrifice and patience. And tuning your spouse out when they tell the same joke for the 1,000th time…..like, “Money can’t buy you happiness. But it WILL let you enjoy your misery in a better part of town!”
I don’t know about you, but I want to be celebrating something like this in seven decades. I think Jennifer Aniston still has a shot at it, and all the rest of us do, too. Here’s to true love!