50 Years Together: Harsh Beginnings Lead to an Amazing Life

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CULLMAN – August 22, 2014 is a very special day for my family. It marks the 50th Wedding Anniversary of my parents, John and Mary (Reid) Schuler. Times were really rough in the beginning, and have been hard over the years, but together they persevered, one obstacle after another, only to come through with a stronger love than ever before. This is the story of a couple of kids who fell in love.


My parents were both 16 years old when they first laid eyes on each other in Atlanta, GA. They met at the local swimming pool – Dad was one of the lifeguards. They dated all through high school and attended the University of Georgia together. The two were Army brats, and up until that time, moving was just a part of life. But when the time came for Mom’s family to move back to Cullman, she was forced to make a choice.


“When Daddy got wind that I was thinking about staying in Atlanta with your Dad, he was both mad, as well as very hurt,” Mom told me once. “Daddy was your typical career military man. He was used to barking orders and having his way. So he gave me an ultimatum – either I pack up and go home to Cullman with the family or stay in Atlanta, but if I chose to stay in Atlanta, he would cut me off financially,” she said softly. “He would stop paying for college, home, food, etc. I would literally be on my own. The choice was mine and I chose to stay in Atlanta.”


Grandpa was caught completely off guard, but at the same time, he had to follow through with his end of the deal. The family moved. Mom stayed in Atlanta and she was financially cut off.


“I didn't know if I would marry your Dad or not, but I didn't want my parents making that decision for me,” Mom explained. “I wanted to stay and see where our relationship would go.”


The Reids moved to Cullman. Mom found a job and a small room in a boarding house. She paid for her college education and later graduated with a degree in horticulture. She and Dad dated for a total of six years before getting married on the Army base at Fort McPherson in Atlanta.


After Dad graduated from the University of Georgia, he was accepted into Veterinary School. This was a big deal for my dad!


“At that time, only 12 students from Georgia were allowed to enter the Veterinary School at the University of Georgia,” Dad said with a big ole smile. “The rest of the students came from out of state, for a total of 60 each year.”


At the same time Dad entered Vet School, Mom had big news of her own! She was pregnant with my sister Angela.


“We rented a tiny apartment, and for a while, Angela's bed was a dresser drawer,” Mom mused. “Money was tight. There were many days I didn't know where our next meal would come from. I constantly worried because once Angela finished her last bottle of formula, I’d have no clue where the next one would come from,” she smiled. “But I knew God was in charge and somehow things would work out – and they did, but in the strangest ways!”


“One time we waited and waited for our income tax money to come – for some reason, it took forever,” she shook her head. “We finally received the money. It was at a time when we were completely out of money, food, diapers, etc.,” she grinned. “See, God knew that if we had gotten the money when we still had a little in the bank, we would have probably spent it on things that we didn't necessarily need.”


Over the past 50 years, my parents have constantly struggled with financial issues. Growing up, my siblings and I never went without food and shelter. We may not have had much but we had loving and supportive parents who took wonderful care of us. Thanks to my parent’s example, I have learned without a doubt that God will always take care of our needs, not necessarily our wants. And I can live with that.


Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad. I love you with all my heart!