Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | April 26, 2014

Our 39th and 1st Anniversary

April 26th, 1975 Beckley, West Virginia

April 26th, 1975
Beckley, West Virginia

Nellie Katherine Kyle and I got married on April 26th, 1975.   She died on December 9th, 2013.  We had been in a relationship together for 41 years.  Today is our 39th anniversary of our marriage.  It’s the first anniversary we can’t be together in this life.  On this day there are many things I could write about her and us and ours.  What best serves the reader?

I’ve been struck by so many people commenting on how thankful I should be for the love we shared, because so many people never experience it.  Really?  How sad.  How deeply sad.  If I write about the special quality of our love, may it serve others.  May it encourage others – even those who feel a wounded emptiness for not having such an experience in life – yet.

As I walk the long, long, hard path of grieving – as Nellie, the counselor, taught me from her professional knowledge – I see in retrospect a special quality in our life time together more clearly.  We have such a desire for one another.  Have.

I can see now how much our marriage had one of the same strengths my parents had.  My parents had a Hollywood-like marriage.  I’m not kidding.  They were on a lifelong honeymoon.  We didn’t have such bliss.  Katherine and I had much, much more conflict and more serious challenges from within the family.  But, we shared a passion and a desire that was much like my parents.

My Daddy died with his last heart attack “celebrating” their 38th.  My Mama said he died happy.   On our 38th wedding anniversary last year, I told my kids how aware I am of his passing – now that I am past his age, etc.  I added, to their groans and Katherine’s laughter, “but I didn’t die when we celebrated our 38th anniversary.”

38th Wedding Anniversary at restaurant with family - and all 4 grandchildren.

38th Wedding Anniversary at restaurant with family – and all 4 grandchildren.

When I say our relationship had a special desire, I’m defining desire to mean more and differently than what the dictionary says.  Our desire is a truly holistic – the whole of our relationship is more than the sum of its parts – umbrella word for desire and passion, intimacy, excitement, play, connection, communication, feelings, closeness, togetherness, companionship, partnership, sharing, caring, needing, being, wanting, lovingkindness, vigor, lovemaking, commitment, dedication, loving one another.

Desire is part of love.  My daughters spoke about her fierce and generous love.  I speak about her passionate love.  And, the special quality we shared as husband and wife was our Desire.  Capital D with all I wrote above.

Desire every day of our life together

Desire every day of our life together


A month before her stroke

A month before her stroke

Our Desire carried us through everything.  We had real challenges in life.  We had stress and conflict in marriage.  We have such desire for one another.

Before we got married, I said something which deeply hurt her feelings.  She cried.  I vowed to never do that again.  I never did.  She cried a lot – over many things – but not from a wound she got from me.   I’m so grateful that there is nothing bad I wish I had never said to her – for over 38 years.  And, there is nothing good I left unsaid to her.  My prayer notebook has this entry for March 2013 – Loving her with more tenderness and kindness.  Grace for Nellie.

She loved this picture of us

She loved this picture of us

Nellie returned my Desire measure for measure.  Especially after her Bible Study Fellowship years, we became closer and closer.  When she could only move her left arm and couldn’t speak in the last days of her life – she stroked my hand the special way she touched me alone.

On her 65th birthday – at a wonderful surprise party – I knew I couldn’t say enough about her well enough.  So, I spoke about her remarkable gift for caring others concerns – hurts and happiness – as her own, which the folks there knew about.  I sang to her the proper words for one of the songs I sang all the time we were together – My Love Is Like a Red Red Rose.

Singing the proper words, not my modified versions

Singing the proper words, not my modified versions

I’m so grateful for our Desire.  I know our kids saw it and understand it.  They get it.   I know some family and friends get it.

I’m grateful to our Lord Jesus Christ for blessing our Desire with the days we had together.  All of my adult life.  We always wanted to be together.  We always wanted to sleep together.  We wanted to be near each other.  Her last voice message – still on my phone – is a missed you on the phone and “I love you”.

We have so many wee stories that were such fun for us to share.  Very many I can’t tell.  They aren’t bad, just personal and private – from our Desire. I can say that when we spooned, I shielded her and protected her.  She felt safe.  When we lay face to face, we melted into each other.  When my back hurt and I had to turn away to sleep, we still kept one foot touching another.  As the Bible says, “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.”

My beloved Nellie

My beloved Nellie

Such Desire.  Thank You, Lord.

Watch the last 4 minutes – the song Red Red Rose – of this vimeo (url below).  Look at our eyes.  Look at how we looked at each other.

That is our Desire.

Happy Anniversary, Darlin’ darlin’ Nellie.   I love you.

38th Anniversary

April 26th is forever ours – even when we are both gone from here

Grateful for our 39th. Sad for this 1st.



  1. There are those who use social media to shape a false image of themselves and their lives. But I know that’s true of you, Jim… in the brief time I’ve known you I developed a deep respect for who you as a kind and committed Christ follower. God richly blessed you and Katherine with one another!

  2. But I know that’s “not” true of you, Jim… left out a key word in my first post.

  3. Thank you – profoundly. The more Katherine grew in Christ the more her light shined. It shines in you and yours.

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