Love is stronger than death
In honor of Valentine’s Day, we sat down with a well-seasoned married couple, asking if they had any secrets for the rest of us. Though we can’t guarantee they currently have the longest marriage in the community, we can all agree they’ve done better than most. Happy Valentine’s Day, Esknovah and Teddy Lynn, and we hope you have many more together!
After 66 years, Esknovah and Teddy Lynn Jackson know a thing or two about marriage.
Esknovah, now 90 years old, can remember the first time he saw her.
“I first saw her when she was 13 years old,” he remembered. “I cast my eye on her and said, ‘if I can get that girl, I’d be happy.’”
Teddy Lynn, 84, just laughed and told him he didn’t walk her home the first time until she was 15.
The two were attending the same Sunday school on Craft Creek. She was from the area, but he walked approximately 4 miles from Breathitt County each week, traveling through the hills and down a sheep path to get there. When asked why he traveled so far to go to that particular Sunday school, Teddy Lynn knew the answer before he could say it.
“I think he was there for the girls!” she laughed. “There was a swarm of us girls on Craft Creek and I wasn’t his first girlfriend. We had no contact until I was 15.”
The two would talk every Sunday and he would walk her home.
“We would see each other once a week,” Teddy Lynn said of the time when they were dating. “Everybody had work to do.”
Even with just seeing each other on weekends, she knew then he was “the one.”
“It’s just something inside of you,” she said. “I think people make decisions off the top of their head and don’t think about it.”
Esknovah clarified, “Companionship is one thing, but love is another. Love is stronger than death.”
“When I was 16, he went to the service and he gave two years in Germany in that time, and we were engaged the whole time,” she remembered. “I think he thought I would find someone else, but he got back on January 19 and we got married on February 28, one month before I turned 19.”
While the rest of his Army company was sent to Korea, Esknovah was sent to work as a cook in post-WWII Germany.
“You think the Lord was good to me?” he laughed.
Teddy Lynn just shook her head and smiled, “He had work for you to do, so He brought you back.”
Esknovah, a United Baptist preacher, used the Bible to describe love, saying, “Love is stronger than anything.”
He quoted John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
“He has made that promise to us,” Esknovah said.
While religion has played a large part in their lives, the two noted they didn’t become Christians until the year of 1969, but he said that is the number one thing young married couples should do.
“First and foremost, people ought to go to church and get saved,” Esknovah said. “It will solve your problems oh so much.”
Esknovah worked many different jobs, starting when he was just 14 years old, onion farming, cutting meat, plumbing, electrical work, moving homes, and even picking pickles, while Teddy Lynn raised the family.
“He’d get up and I fixed him breakfast and he’d went to work, and he didn’t know nothing about what was going on with us, but I was pretty good with a switch!” Teddy Lynn remembered.
Though she never drove a car, starting after they got married, she made money by sewing for people, staying busy with sewing work people would bring to her. Work ethic and independence were something she instilled in their five children.
“We have wonderful children,” Teddy Lynn said. “I really don’t know what I’d do without them.”
In addition to their five children, the couple has 16 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
“We had 39 people at Christmas!” Teddy Lynn said.
Over the years, the two said they have never fought, though she laughed and attributed it to the fact she never drove their car.
“If I did, we would have killed each other,” she laughed. “He likes his cars.”
When asked about advice for a healthy marriage, she responded, “Love hides all faults.”
“Now, I don’t know what the reason is, but nowadays when a couple has a misunderstanding, people don’t sit down and talk it out. Back in the old days, people didn’t do that. If you get in an argument, people don’t know when to shut their mouths. Society has changed so rapidly.”
As for the issue of “cold feet” before a wedding, they both had the same answer.
Teddy Lynn said, “You better wait until you feel differently about it.”
Esknovah added, “You want to be sure about something like that.”
While the majority of the questions were about love and marriage, the two kept coming back to religion and their five children.
Teddy Lynn described how their children have all gone on to have good careers and families, while still remaining active in their parents’ day-to-day lives.
“The Lord has been very good to us.”