Young Love: The Backstory

When I first published my observations of enduring and sacrificial love from an elderly couple (which you can read here), I had little idea that it would be shared and re-posted enough that it would eventually get back to the man about whom I wrote it. 

I came in the door after a tiring 2-day surf trip with the youth group this summer and had a letter waiting for me. I dropped my suitcase, keys, and sunglasses in the floor and opened it eagerly. And with tears rolling down my cheeks, I read a carefully typed 2-page account of their love story. Jim later told me, “I’ve never written anything like that before.” And he gave me permission to share it with you. So here are the main excerpts from his letter:

Lauren,

That you would observe and write such a beautiful article about us is humbling. I am especially grateful that you see our situation in a positive light, since I do not wish that our ‘nonconventional’ appearance be a negative factor… I don’t wish to bore you, but I would like to make a couple of comments related to the subjects about which you wrote:

…I don’t consider my efforts to be anything outside of normal behavior… I do not [consider it an] obligation…I don’t do what I do ‘because I have to.’ To understand, I need to take you through a little history.

We started dating in high school in 1942 when we were both 15; she was a sophomore and I was a junior. We did all the ‘school things’ and Saturday night movies with hamburgers and cokes (I was a real big spender). We dated as much as we could after my graduation while I worked for a year…then I was in the Navy for 17 months. After the Navy I started my freshman year at [college]…. At the end of my freshman year (August 1947) we married. I will not bore you with a lot of subsequent history; although it is pertinent, it is not necessary to make the point that I am trying to make.

Take a look at our situation when we got married. We were almost 21, she had a steady job… and things were going pretty well for her. To marry me she would have to move away from her family, change jobs, live she-didn’t-know-where, and work for 3 more years so we wouldn’t starve. I, on the other hand, had just finished one year of college, had spent what savings I had on that, and didn’t even have a bicycle for transportation. Even more, with my background of having graduated from only a small 100-student county school in Tennessee, having worked as a mechanic, spent time in the Navy and one year in a junior college, why would she even think I had what it takes to graduate from a prestigious engineering college like Georgia Tech? You would think that such a smart, pretty, employed girl who had so much going for her would have had far better offers than I could make. However, she did agree and we hitched our wagons to my star of becoming an engineer.

During college, money was pretty tight, and I remember once we had a serious discussion about whether we could afford for her to have a 5 cent coke with her sack lunch each day. [We agreed] that when I got out of college, she would keep the home and care for any children we might have, and I would be responsible for providing the income. That would mean we would adjust our standard of living to my salary. That was not to say that everything was easy or always one way. We made most decisions together, and a number were made differently than if I had been single; she could say the same.

So what is the point I am trying to make? In addition to all the above-mentioned reasons for my desire to care for her, there is the matter that she very early-on gave up her independence and put her faith and trust in me to see that she, and a family, were taken care of. I made a covenant with her before God and a few people to do that, ‘in sickness and in health.’ So, am I now obligated to meet her needs for 24/7 care, and do I do it for that reason?…No — I do it because I want to, and even though she does not know it, I want to express my appreciation for the love and confidence that she, as a smart, beautiful, rosy-cheeked, auburn-haired young lady expressed in me 67 years ago, and has continued to do so ever since! I suspect the time will come when I will not be physically able to personally meet her needs and other arrangement will be necessary. Until such time, I will continue to care for her and nothing else will even be considered.

I hope that you will meet and marry a Christian with whom you can have the same love and commitment that [we] had/have, to jointly ‘hitch your wagons to a common star,’ with God’s Word guiding you along the path. You may find that while someone may have to temporarily give up that 5 cent daily coke, it will not matter since 67 years later, despite the circumstances, you can say, “I would do it again.”

Published in: on August 26, 2014 at 11:28 pm  Comments (2)  
Tags: , , , , ,

The Alluring

I awake in the night and he is gone. The sheets are still warm from where he lay beside me, and his scent lingers in the air. But he is gone. Love is a mist, only an illusion that hangs in the air, fading with the morning light. I must have been kidding myself to think he would stay this time. As if in a dream, I swing my legs out of bed and shudder as my toes touch the cold floor. I wrap myself in the red satin robe he gave me and slip outside.

It is a foggy night, the moon obscured by the silvery clouds. I stand on tiptoe and strain to see. Distant, shadowed, but there he stands at the end of the path. My lover.

He sees me standing there, the breeze toying with my loosened hair, self-consciously fingering the front of my robe as if I suddenly feel  immodest. He turns and begins to walk away. His back is disappearing into the mist, but I can still catch him and somehow convince him to stay. It’s not too late. I begin to run, but in the darkness the trees suddenly seem to hem me in. The path narrows as the hedges thicken, creating a wall on either side of me. Am I still dreaming? I can barely see him now. Which direction has he gone? I look desperately around me at what now seems to be a threatening forest. I have lost my way, but I continue to push through the undergrowth. The thorns begin to tear at my robe, at my hair, at my skin. I feel like I am fighting, but what for? My lover has gone.

I stop, panting for breath, choking on the tears that have begun to surface. I hear footsteps behind me. Is that him? I spin around quickly…and there He is. Not my lover. The one I had left. The one had forgotten. The whole time I had been chasing my lover without a backward glance…He had been chasing me.

I walk towards Him slowly, apprehensively,  not sure what to expect. His face is difficult to read. I can’t quite place the emotion I find there, but somehow it tears me apart inside. He extends His hand to me. As I place mine in His, He pulls the gaudy ring from my finger and examines it. Then He tosses it away and pulls me to Him, roughly. I brace myself; this wouldn’t be the first time I had been hit by a man. With a jealous fury He snatches the adornment from my neck, throwing it to the ground with an anger that frightens me. He tears off the scarlet robe. It cascades to the ground, leaving me standing before Him naked and exposed. I cry out and try to cover myself with my arms, but it is no use. There is no hiding from Him. He is looking not even at me, but straight through me. I duck my head, guarding myself against the shouting and the beating that is sure to come. Surely His patience is worn through by now. Aren’t all men the same in the end?

But nothing happens. I open my eyes. He reaches out and tilts my chin upward to meet his gaze with a touch so gentle it gives me chills, and the look of intense longing in His eyes makes me catch my breath. Can He really still love me? The harsh voice I was expecting never comes. Instead, He begins to speak in a low, tender voice. “Stop cowering, beloved. Why are you so afraid? You will no longer call Me ‘master’; you will call Me ‘husband.’ For I will betroth you to Me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion and faithfulness.”

The words wash over me like a cleansing rain as I fall into His arms, their purity healing my heart of all the lies and the broken promises. Because this time I know…I know. This is the last time He will ever have to come after me, because nothing else will ever satisfy the way this love does.  I will look for love no further than here, where it has found me. This time I will stay.

~Hosea 2:6-20~

Published in: on August 31, 2012 at 9:29 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , ,