What Jimmie Sue and Larry Swilling Taught Us About Marriage

Larry Swilling just reminded us how selfish we all are. Swilling has been walking the streets of Greenville, South Carolina for a year with a sandwich board on his chest reading “Need Kidney 4 Wife” to speed up the process of an organ donation for his wife. Jimmie Sue, born with only one kidney (which is now failing), has been on the organ donor list, but since her husband was not a match himself, he took it upon himself to find her a kidney that was.

Over the past year, hundreds have offered one of their healthy kidneys (so we don’t all suck), but none was a perfect match until a Virginia Beach woman saw their story and decided to give one of her kidneys. Go Swillings! We wish her a quick and speedy transplant recovery.

Just how selfish I am can be denoted by the fact that I am going to take this story and make it about me now. I am about to walk in a wedding next month, the third this year, so I’ve been thinking a lot about marriage (also I am a lot poorer than I was before I spent money on three bridesmaids dresses, three bachelorette weekends, and three wedding presents).

Because so many marriages around us twenty-somethings have failed, I think we have all become a little wary of the commitment involved in making lifelong vows. And that’s fine; the vows we take are so solemn and so binding (legally, emotionally, mentally) that we should not take them lightly. They should not be taken “unadvisedly … but reverently, deliberately” as the still-beautiful “Book of Common Prayer” wedding ceremony reads.

I have seen few marriages that I want to emulate. It seems like most of us feel the same way, because this plays out culturally in jokes about the old battleax and the seven-year itch and in Brangelina. But when I see (albeit from the outside) the Swillings, who have been married for over 57 years, who say things like “We stuck by each other. She’s looked after me and now it’s my turn to look after her,” then I know marriage can be beautiful, and I know that I want that. Someone once told me that “you can’t go back” with marriage. And in many cases, that’s true. But if a marriage looks like what the Swillings’ looks like to me, who would ever want to go back?

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lc-e1358128566135Laura Creel (@Little_Utopia) is the managing editor of Little Utopia.

Previously from Laura Creel:
Thoughts on Ariel Castro’s Death
♦ The Other Side of the Desk: Changing Perspectives on Syria
♦ Billy Ray Cyrus: Not as Creepy as We Initially Thought
♦ Bees! Bees! Wonderful Bees!
♦ I Wanted That Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger, but It’s Better This Way

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