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Love at The Lodge at Lane and Timeless Wisdom from our Elders

Feb 09, 2024 10:21AM ● By Lauren Pope

“I promise you every word is true.” 

That’s how Mr. Auburn (AJ) Philips ended the remarkable story of his 68-year marriage to his beloved late wife, Mary. Mr. AJ doesn’t hear well these days, so he told me that it would be easier for him to just tell his story instead of having me try to ask him questions. I feel honored to share it with you. Below is my transcription, to the best of my abilities, and through some tears by the end. We hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed hearing it. 

Mary lived one block away from me, but I didn’t know her very well because she wasn’t interested in dating or anything like that. She went to an all-girl’s school and she just didn’t mess around at all with the boys. She had two brothers and three sisters and they all made it clear to everyone around that nobody messes with Mary. Everyone thought she would grow up to be a nun. 

That changed the summer before my last year of high school. The basketball team was playing the last game of the season. The bus used to stop in front of my dad’s house, but it was raining that day so my dad told me to take the car to the game instead. Mary wanted to go to the game too. I saw her standing out under an awning, not really a porch, in this pouring rain. I backed the car up and asked her what she was doing out in this weather. 

She told me she was waiting to go to the game and I said I was going too and if she got in then I’d take her. She’d never been in a car alone with a boy, I don’t think, so it took her a minute to decide. So I asked her “What are you doing just standing there in the rain?” and she asked me “Well what are you doing picking me up you never did that before.” I said to her “Well you were never standing out in the rain before.”

Well she got in the car and we started driving and all of the sudden the sky just went completely black. I couldn’t see anything and couldn’t keep driving. While everything was just jet black I heard a voice coming from the back seat of my car. It sounded clear as if it were my brother back there, but no one was there. That voice said “Look at her, she’s yours. This is the woman I’ve given you to marry.” I knew right then it was Jesus. And we sat there just in awe and heard so many things about what was going to happen in our life. Jesus told me I would go to Korea and stay there for a year, but I would be coming back and then Mary and I would get married.

Well, that’s just what happened. I joined the Navy and at first they told me that I’d be gone for three months, but the Navy worked differently then than it does now so they changed their mind and I found out that I’d be in Korea for a year, just like I knew I would be. Mary and I wrote letters back and forth the whole time I was in Korea and we planned our wedding that way. We knew that with the war and everything that it would be hard to have a big wedding, so we decided on one that was just family and a few friends. 

The day of the wedding she had four of her girl friends from her school there, and they were the only ones not related to us. Before we got married they each gave me a little kiss, and that was the last time I kissed anyone in my life other than Mary. There’s never been another and there could never be another. It was just Mary for me. For 69 years. 

We had a wonderful marriage. We had 8 children. 5 girls, and 3 boys. Our oldest daughter, Diana, died in 1983 of cancer and that just about killed us, because we loved her so much. But Mary kept us going. Everyone just loved her. After I got back from Korea I was still in the Navy and I’d have shore leave and there were young guys who liked to hang out at our place because of Mary. They all judged everyone else against her. Anyone they were dating needed to be like Mary. 

When I was on the ship she would go back home. On the day I was getting out of the Navy I thought that she was back in Baker waiting. I went with a buddy to this building we used to get changed into civilian clothes and was walking out when I heard her call my name on the street. I turned around and there she was. We kissed right there in the middle of the road. She’d found a way to get there and I was just so happy to see her. 

When I left the Navy to go work as a civilian I told her that I trusted her to manage all the money. To just take what I made and if we needed anything and we could afford it, to buy it, but if we couldn’t afford it not to put anything on credit. We lived that way, only buying it if we could afford it, even if we really needed it, we made do til we could afford it. She knew I wanted to retire when I was 60, and when I worked my last job laying down pipes I asked her “Well, Mary, do you think I can stop work now?” and she told me that I’d worked hard my whole life and of course I could because she’d gotten all of our savings set up for this. 

We traveled all over the world for 15 years. We even went to Alaska and cruised all over. Over this time we had 20 grand kids and 23 great grand kids. We had a great many blessings. Then Mary was diagnosed with cancer. It was just tearing her up inside and the doctors really messed things up with surgery. The kids all wanted her to go into the hospital and try other things, but she didn’t want that. She just wanted to be at home, and I wanted her home with me. I told them that I would take care of her, and I did. 

When she died she took the best part of me with her. She was everything to me. I still talk to her every day. I just pray that one day we will be reunited. Our grandkids come visit me up here, but even they know that it was just her for me and without her I feel like I’m half gone too. I loved her and I thank Jesus for giving her to me. 

We also featured some Timeless Wisdom: Relationship Advice from the Elders and enjoyed some special memories that they shared. Regretfully, a mistake was made in identifying one of the residents Mattie Stubbs incorrectly as Ruth Anne Dayton. We have corrected the mistake in the spread attached.