Love weathers storms

Published 4:34 pm Monday, March 29, 2010

On March 25, retired Pelham Mayor Bobby Hayes and his wife Judy celebrated 50 years of marriage.

For almost 40 of those 50 years, they’ve been Pelham residents.

As their daughter, I’ve had front row seating for this half-a-century marriage that has been both blessed — and made interesting — by public service, children (theirs and many who they consider almost theirs), family, friends and storms of all kinds.

Their story’s beginning is humble. Looking for old photos, my son and I found my mother’s college notebook from 1959.

My dad was already in New York City serving in the Coast Guard as they were planning their wedding. My mom’s sketch of her dress drawn on her English class notes looks remarkably like the wedding dress she wore in March 1960.

Searching for memories is an especially tough task because, in February 1990, my childhood home was destroyed when a tornado hit Pelham. My parents were asleep upstairs. Holding on to one another, they sailed through the storm. The next day, a passer-by shouted at my parents as they surveyed the damage, “You people are not living right.”

Without missing a beat, my dad shouted back, “We must be doing something right. We’re still here.”

Bobby and Judy Hayes’ storyline has always been about facing the storm and sticking together. My folks have always hoped for the best and believed the best could happen to them.

The resolution of their story is that beliefs like these are contagious. Bobby and Judy Hayes have given a family, and the citizenry they served for almost a quarter of a century, an optimistic outlook that the best fortune is just around the corner.

Living my life as the child of parents who belong not only to me, but also to a large family including so many of the folks who have been a part of this city, has taught me the importance of being willing to make room, to wait patiently and to share.

Ultimately, that is the great theme of my parents’ love story. Blessings, time, love and happiness are not treasures that have to be divided. Indeed, sharing these treasures causes them to multiply.

Poet Robert Browning said, “Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be.” My parents’ lives have been richly blessed. My inheritance is to believe that there is even more blessing ahead.

Connie Nolen can be reached by e–mail at