Paul and Dorothy Newman got married on July 12, 1969, on a day that had a combination of sun and rain, perhaps giving them a taste of the joys and that they would share during the next 50 years together.
"That's a multiple weather day," recalled Paul. "… I do not think we have anything to do with the effects, but I guess that's one of those Julys."
After meeting at a bowling party in Washington, D.C. In 1965, Paul and Dorothy Newman dated for several years before getting married. Soon after, they had two children – Vida Newman and Valencia Ayers. They now have two grandkids – Kelsey Edgar and Elyse Newman. They are longtime parishioners of St. Joseph's Parish in Largo, Maryland.
As their children grew up, they were baptized. Their granddaughter, Kelsey, so grew up in the parish, and what about altar server.
"For me, it's my family's reared my siblings and me," Paul said. "I saw how they got involved in the Church, and I guess it just moved up to another generation."
The community has been diagnosed with leukemia after going to hospital for the first time.
"It was almost unbelievable, when they said, 'he's in intensive care,' he says, 'I think, but I'm not sure he's had leukemia,'" Dorothy recalled.
The doctors said they would give him chemotherapy for 30 days, but he remained in Doctors Community Hospital for 120 days, undergoing multiple rounds of the treatment. During that time, he had so many visitors that the doctor had to tell them to cut it off.
"While he was there, we've got over 1,000 cards … We had one family from St Joseph's, they've just come back to the wall, until we just ran out of space," remembered Dorothy. "The doctors and the nurses said they had never seen anything like that before."
Eventually, Paul went home on Christmas Eve.
"They brought me home by ambulance … and they said, 'This is your Christmas present,' said Paul.
The doctor warned Dorothy that her husband would not stay in remission for long, and that they would start looking for a bone marrow donor. They tested his family, and were able to find three potential donors: his two sisters and his brother.
"So we just said, 'thank you, lord.' We were just blessed to have a match," said Dorothy. "They told us at Georgetown, it's hard enough to find one, but when you find three, that's a miracle."
In the end, his brother donated bone marrow to Paul, who broke out in sores after the procedure, and had to stay in hospital for 90 days before going home. This time, he was at Georgetown University Hospital, and Dorothy would visit him three times a day – once in the morning, once on a lunch break, and once in the evening.
"How did I survive some of this? … It was because of my faith, my belief in God … I prayed, asked God for the strength to get me through. Because sometimes I did not know if I was going through it all, "said Dorothy. "… But I just felt once we got married and we took the vows, it was my responsibility to do whatever I said, with a lot of prayer, because there have been have times that I could not move. I was just frozen. "
In addition to prayer, Dorothy recalled how she had received the support of family members, neighbors, and friends from her church to stay with her. Dorothy a religious sister who would talk and pray with her.
For Paul, having his wife by his side for that journey "what a matter of life and death," he said.
"If I had not done that, I never would have survived that," Paul said.
Both Paul and Dorothy agree that they are bonded together.
I just realized that's what it's all about you through rough times in the present, "said Paul.
Even after he got home, Paul initially had to stay in the back bedroom and not in the living room unless no one was home. Finally, after 90 days of that, he was allowed to go outside and go back to St. Joseph.
I've been through them and they've got something like that. "Paul said:" What was some experience, because all of the church members and community members knew what I was saying.
He began to get involved in the parish once again, and retired on medical disability in 1990. As he continued to recover, he began taking sightseeing trips into Washington, D.C. with his granddaughter, beginning when she was a toddler and about 12 years old. He also attended her school functions, and said she played a significant part of his rehabilitation.
The couple also started volunteering with Capital Hospice, visiting the sick across Prince George's County, and with their parish's bereavement ministry.
"I just started to get stronger and started exercising and walking. I could be around people more and years just started to move on, and I've been asking for it, but it's always asking for someone, "How are you and going to live long and are you going to have a quality of life? '"Paul said. "But I could not answer any of that. I could be hopeful that I would, and as it turned out, it has been a quality life, with just a few exceptions. "
Since then, Paul has remained mostly healthy, although he had a serious bout of pneumonia about two years ago, and had an infection, which caused him to become hospitalized. Once again he was flooded with visitors, including Washington Auxiliary Bishop Roy Campbell, Jr., the pastor of St Joseph's, and Father Aaron Qureshi, now the parochial vicar at St Peter's Parish in Olney, who celebrated Mass in his hospital room.
Paul has mostly recovered from that illness, and the couple continues to enjoy their time together. Every morning Dorothy says when she is "thank you, Lord," and she prays to Hail Mary. She loves everyone in her family, she said, adding, "They are the joy of my life."
Paul and Dorothy renew their wedding vows at St. Joseph's for their 25th wedding anniversary, and will do so again during the annual Jubilarian mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on June 16.
They are planning to renew their vows in a private ceremony on July 13 at St. Joseph to celebrate their 50th birthdayth, or "Golden" anniversary. Dorothy wants to wear a gold dress and Paul wants to wear a gold tie, and they'll be back in love with each other in sickness and health, in front of many of the same people who stood by their side 25 and even 50 years ago ,
"That's what strikes me very seriously about renewing the vows. It's a reminder, not only to us, but the people around us, that we're renewing it, and we're starting on another part of our journey, because it's been a journey, "Paul said.
"We're just so blessed and thankful for being able to celebrate. It's such a blessing, "said Dorothy. "Some of them are just as happy as we are to be there with us."
Those family members, friends and church members "are the ones who continue to commit to one another," Paul said.
"So often people ask, 'Gee, how did you stay married for 50 years?' And I said, 'Well, it's a daily ritual. It is something you remember every day and every year, and you celebrate it, "he said. "And you are thankful to God because He is the one who brought you here and no doubt."