But first things first , so back to the beginning.

I set my sights on Byron Toney when I was 11 and he was 13.  His family had just moved to Lavonia from Carnesville, and I spotted him sitting in the Carnegie Library , reading a book.  He had a curl that fell in the middle of his forehead, and I said to my friend, Betsy,  ” I don’t know who he is, but I’m going to marry that boy.”

But the relationship in the high school years was not smooth.  He had a girl and I was simply a friend. But I was determined and wise enough to value the friendship.  Time moved on.  Relationships shifted, and eventually, upon his graduation from high school, we were actually dating.  Shortly afterwards, he joined the Air Force, and after a year , was deployed to Germany for three years.He returned during my junior year at UGA and entered college himself at North Georgia in Dahlonega.

He proposed standing in the living room at the Haley House on a Sunday morning while everyone was at church.  He put an  ” itty-bitty  “diamond engagement ring on my finger .  It was, and is , priceless to me.

We married on this day, April 20, 1960, at Lavonia First Methodist Church with the reception at the Haley House on the corner of Hwy 17 and Brookwood.  I dressed at the Haley House for the wedding, and my lifetime and much- loved nanny, Sarah Lou Rucker, carried my train as we walked up the highway to the church.

And then my introduction into the Toney family truly began !  As we were leaving the reception for our honeymoon, Byron’s older twin brothers, Dwain and Dwight, rushed to the porch, swept me up, carried me to Dwight’s car, and away we went.  KIDNAPPED  !!!   The guests were clueless and amazed, my daddy being the only one who knew that this prank was in the works. Byron chased us in Daddy’s Buick.

All’s well that ends well , right ?

But it wasn’t the end at all.  We were spending our wedding night in our upstairs apartment of a private home in north Atlanta.  At approximately 3:00 am we were awakened by a knock on the door.  And there stood Dwight and Doris Toney with their three toddlers.  They asked if they could come in and visit for awhile, explaining that we might enjoy company.    OUR WEDDING NIGHT   !!!!!   I began to wonder what kind of family I had married into.  As it turned out, I could never have found in-laws more loving, supporting, and fun-loving than the gregarious Toneys.


Life moved on.  College for Byron; teaching for me, after a stint in Social Services at Grady Memorial Hospital  ( what an education that was ! ) and a stint at the Georgia Capitol as a guide ( and a completely different education there with the politics ! ).

Two delightful children.  Moves from Atlanta to Winder to Danville, Kentucky, back to Winder, to Birmingham ( Mountain Brook), Alabama. and, ultimately, back to Lavonia.

Was the journey smooth ?  Did we always like each other ?  Were we always comfortable financially ?  Were all issues settled in a civil manner ?  Did we always agree on child-raising, money matters, in-laws, social life, purchases, and even simple day-to-day decisions ?  NO and NO and NO !

But we prevailed.  But even more important, we loved.  Even in the worst of times, even when we slipped and fell, and even when the sun didn’t shine and the storms rolled, we loved.  But not just each other .  We loved our children, our grandchildren, our friends, our extended family , our co-workers, our church, our pets, our doctors , our veterinarians, our house and yard help, our woods, our community , our jobs, and many more——- too many to mention.

SAY IT AIN’T SO  !   No, can’t do that.     IT IS SO !!!!    We are celebrating 61 years of marriage this day at 5:00 pm.   SIXTY-ONE YEARS .  A miracle, just a miracle.

Would I change anything ?  Probably so.  There were some rough times when we struggled and doubted and almost gave up.  There were some hills that were almost impossible to climb.  There were some valleys that kept us down. There were some waters almost too deep to navigate.

But love has many components.  Tolerance, endurance, patience, respect, perseverance, determination, and understanding top the list.  Giving more than taking is a must.   One of my childhood friends, who married before we did, said it very succinctly ,  ” You have to learn to say  ‘ We ‘ instead of  ‘ I ‘. ”

But do I look back at that day in Lavonia’s Carnegie Library when I saw that long and lanky kid with the curl on his forehead and wish that I had turned my head ?  NO WAY…………He is the wind beneath my wings and the love of my life.

Many years and many blessings.  I count the blessings each day, one by one.  They never grow old, much like our marriage.