Sunday, August 3, 2008


I remember being so scared. Only 18 years old, and there I was, getting ready to walk down the aisle and give my future to a boy I barely knew. It never crossed my mind that he, too, may be a little apprehensive at the prospect of the life-changing event about to take place.

So, who was this boy waiting for me at the altar? We had actually met by happenstance. My pastors needed me to play the piano at a youth rally in Osceola, Iowa, and since they couldn’t attend, they asked a young man from the youth group to provide transportation for me to and from the rally. He agreed and we were introduced. Since I didn’t belong to the youth group, I had never before noticed him.

Just before the ceremony was to begin, my pastor came into the bride's dressing room and asked me if I wanted to change my mind. He promised that if I wanted to call the whole thing off, he would be willing to make the announcement to the guests and make sure the church was empty before he and his wife would escort me safely home.

Anger boiled up inside my chest; why had he waited until this exact minute to offer me this strange option? I was furious and determined to follow through with my promise to this 18 year old almost stranger, no matter how scared I was. It would be him and me against the world and we’d prove to this minister and everybody else that we were doing the right thing.
The ‘everybody else’ included several people. His father had died when he was young, so, as an only child, he was his mamma’s boy. When we went to show her my new diamond, she ignored me and said to him, “You’d give a diamond to just anybody, wouldn’t you?” She predicted our marriage wouldn’t last a year. He was from a family of farmers who seemed to delight in embarrassing this over-sheltered, city girl. Due to my naïveté, that wasn't hard to do. They did not welcome me with open arms. Ever. I would never be the earthy farm woman their family could fully accept.

As for my family, they were in shock. We had just experienced two deaths in addition to my mother’s recent descent into mental illness, and now the fact that I was engaged to a boy they didn’t approve of and who I had known for only a couple months, just added to their horror. My father refused to meet the young man, even after my pastor tried to broker an introduction. He would never be the suave, erudite man my family could accept. Surprisingly, Mother kept it all together long enough to be as supportive as she could be under the circumstances. She sprung for the $25.00 my wedding dress cost and allowed my brothers to attend my wedding against my father’s orders.

Having an aunt pass away just days before the wedding was all the excuse my family needed to boycott my wedding. My side of the church was empty except for my mother, brothers, maternal grandmother, a cousin and a few old friends from my childhood church. His side of the church was full to overflowing. My humiliation was almost complete and it took only a couple more things to make that happen; my matron of honor showed up with her slip torn and hanging from under the front of her dress, and then my singer fell down the stairs upon exiting the platform, requiring immediate attention to her swollen ankle.
As the organ began to play the wedding march, my wobbly legs carried me to the altar, in shoes a half size too small, (but they’d been on sale for $5.00), where I joined that young man in matrimony and pledged my love in sickness and health, poorness and wealth for as long as we both would live. We drove off in a shaving cream decorated 1952 Ford, which was then permanently earmarked as the car that some fool was stupid enough to spray shaving cream on. We went home to a third floor apartment in the Drake neighborhood of Des Moines; an apartment with no a/c and only one small fan. It was the first week of August, 1961, during the most hot and humid time of the year in Iowa.

This week we’re fortunate enough to celebrate our 47th anniversary. Has it been all warm hugs and butterfly kisses? No. Has it been all love, happiness and sunshine? No. Oh, there’s been plenty of love but also some intense dislike at times; great happiness and often, deep sadness; much, much sunshine but also many clouds. And through all these years we’ve learned so much more about love than we knew 47 years ago. I could share with you the lessons we’ve learned, but it’s a rule; everyone has to learn for themselves.

The memories……., ah, we share so many memories; the births and exciting lives of our 6 children; more than once, praying together when a child’s life hung in the balance; holding each other, trying to be brave while scared stiff, as they were about to wheel my husband into brain surgery; groggily looking up after a mishap from a major surgery to realize I was in ICU, then seeing Hubby’s concerned face, hearing the firmness in his voice as he spoke with the nurses and doctors and knowing he had my best interest at heart as I again lost consciousness.

Especially at this time of life, we know we can count on each other to be there through the tough times. During a recent heart attack, he trusted me to keep everything under control at home while staying on top of his situation at the hospital. When frustrated with all the new meds and diets, he knows I’ll do what’s best for him. Likewise, if he comes home from work and I’ve had a bad night or day, he doesn’t expect me to do more than I can; he understands. When pain sends me into the pits of hell, he spends the night in the recliner so his movements won’t bother me should I finally be able to fall asleep. And he endures my need to read before I can relax enough to go to sleep, even though that means keeping the light on for awhile longer.

We both understand and accept that our bodies have changed; firm has fallen; taut is NOT; and we’ve earned each and every gray hair and wrinkle. (Did I tell you we have six children and 14 grandchildren??? In reality, we have seven children, as one granddaughter became our special daughter.)

Since we are both very passionate people, over the years we have loved passionately and fought passionately. There has never been anything passive about our relationship; even during the times it hung by a very slim thread. We have each had to ask forgiveness and give forgiveness for hurtful words and actions. We don’t always agree on philosophies or politics and often we don’t enjoy the same cuisine. He’s steak and potatoes; I’m shrimp scampi. And as for our tastes in music, he’s country; I’m classical. Yet, sometimes we finish each others sentences and a look is understood without words.

Maybe we’ve become a habit to each other after 47 years; or maybe, just maybe, we’ve found out we can’t live without each other.

1 comment:

SherbitShandy said...

what a wonderfull story about true real love,togetherness.
i loved reading it