To have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part.
When those words, or ones like them, left the mouths of Bill and Lois Wilson, one wonders if either imagined how often the requirement to abide by those commitments would impact their 53 years together.
Before Bill met Lois, he experienced great joy in his success with music, invention, and education yet he also felt deep sorrow. Although he struggled with depression as a child, nothing could have prepared him for the unexpected death of the woman he hoped would become his lifelong partner. That loss paralyzed him from day-to-day activity, and one may suspect, closed his heart.
Lois, on the other hand, was a free spirit in action and thought. Creative arts and nature called to her from an early age. She didn’t bother with such things as fancy clothes or first impressions.
Then came the introduction between Lois and Bill. At first, theirs was a friendship and nothing more until romance flourished between them a few years later. Many say strong marriages stem from true friendship and perhaps that was the key for Lois and Bill.
From January 24, 1918 to that very same date when Bill took his last breath 53 years later, their marriage weathered endless challenges laced with true blessings.
From the day that marked their marital union, life tossed them apart and pulled them back together in more ways than one. Soon after their wedding day, World War 1 military duty took Bill overseas and while there, alcohol took him on what would become a tumultuous dive into and through alcoholism.
That first drink spun their lives in ways neither could have imagined. Individually they doubted and despaired yet together persevered. Both saw through the haze of disconnect that their love for one another could, and would defeat, whatever roadblock got in their way.
What highlights their union was a relentless belief in one another as they created fellowships of like-minded people outside their marriage. Bill needed the connection with other alcoholics, and Lois needed the connection with those who loved them.
Years and tears later, through good times and bad, in sickness and health, until Bill’s death they did part on the very date they were married, Mr. and Mrs. Wilson marked footsteps that millions would one day follow.
Out of individual desperation, Bill and Lois took the first part of those marital vows to heart. They held on to one another as they reached out to others who needed what they did. From that day forward they dedicated their lives to the betterment of those who wanted what they had found through the creation of Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon.
A miracle that many pray for materialized because of the love that linked Bill and Lois. Their devotion and dedication to each other started the chain that binds these miraculous programs and continues on.
In honor of their anniversary, reach out to someone who suffers today. Offer the reminder that from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, with love for all that we cherish in our sobriety, there is hope for overcoming what they believe they cannot.
Written by Alison Smela. Alison is a writer, speaker, and an addiction recovery and health advocate. Through her blog Alison’s Insights www.alisonsmela.com, Alison shares her experience overcoming alcoholism and life-threatening eating disorder in midlife and how she now faces everyday challenges using recovery-based solutions. Feel free to connect with her via Facebook, Twitter, (@alisonsmela), or Instagram (alison.smela).