Aaron and Nadine Wilson have been married for more than six decades and have based their union on the Book of Ruth.
Nadine Abner was 23 and employed by the telephone company in Birmingham, Alabama, living in a home operated by the Methodist church that allowed young women to stay there for low rent while they went to college or worked.
The course of her life would be determined the moment she was introduced to Aaron Wilson, the cousin of her roommate’s boyfriend.
Today, at 89, Nadine once again finds herself living in a home with a roommate — but this time it’s at The Blake at Hamlin, and her roommate is Aaron Wilson, her husband of 66 years.
The new assisted-living facility in Horizon West celebrated the long marriage of the Wilsons, congratulating them on their 792 months of marriage, which also equates to 24,106 days, 578,544 hours, 34,712,640 minutes and almost 2.1 million seconds.
The Wilsons’ apartment has reminders of love hanging on the walls and sitting on various tables.
In their living room, hanging above their two reclining chairs are four signs: “Love always trusts,” from 1 Corinthians 13:7; “Love never fails,” from 1 Corinthians 13:8; “Grow old with me, the best is yet to be”; and “We still do.”
A sign on a bedroom wall reads “Love grows here.”
The Wilsons were united in marriage May 12, 1956, in a little country church in Double Springs, Alabama, surrounded by friends and family, Nadine Wilson said. Her maid of honor was a woman she has been friends with since third grade; his best man was a cousin.
“We tried to base our vows on what the Bible said about marriage,” Nadine Wilson said, reciting Ruth 1:16-17: “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me."
There have been many versions of a song based on that verse, and Nadine Wilson said her niece sang it at their wedding.
Two years after they were married, Aaron Wilson was drafted into the U.S. Army, where he spent two years on active duty and 25 in the U.S. Army Reserve.
He grew up tending the family farm in Cullman County and as soon as he was old enough, he moved to Birmingham for a job. He worked at the Chicago Bridge steel mill in Birmingham for 30 years, starting in the engineering department and working his way up to shop foreman.
She worked at the telephone company for 13 years but was required by the adoption agency to be a stay-at-home mother once they became parents to Sharon.
The couple built their house in Alabama, where they lived for more than 50 years. When it came time to downsize and reside in an assisted-living facility, they sold the home and most of the belongings.
“It was just stuff; what meant something to us was people,” Nadine Wilson said. “We didn’t need the stuff. We’re going to a better place anyway, and we’ve got so many family members waiting on us.”
They moved to Winter Garden in 2020 to be near their daughter. The Wilson family also includes a grandson, three granddaughters and a great-granddaughter.
Sixty-six years of togetherness, and the Wilsons still are going strong.
During the pandemic, when residents were forced to remain in their apartments, Nadine and Aaron were grateful to have one another.
“When we finally did get to go to the dining room, we could sit together,” she said. “I heard the women say they were so lonely, and we had each other, and that made it easier.”
If you want to know the best part about being married, just ask Aaron Wilson.
“I loved her,” he said. “And still do.”
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