Newlywed Love (#112)

Eating Mandarin orangesTomorrow we’ll be starting our holiday celebrating a week early by taking a trip to Iowa to visit Birgitta, Emerald, and Spencer.

We’ll also be spending time with Nate’s brother Ken (below).

After that we’ll get to have Emerald with us for a week in Michigan, and before we make our turkey dinner, she and I will be busy catching up on granddaughter adventures.

Uncle Ken.So, the 1970 Newlywed year of Nate and Meg will have to conclude after the Thanksgiving weekend — about 10 days from now. But before I sign off for a while, let’s watch these two meet the first baby in the family….




Super 8 moviesOctober 24-28, 1970

After our apartment research project in Chicago, Nate and I made a bee-line for my family – and especially baby Luke, now 9 days old. We brought our Super 8 movie camera to record his every move and couldn’t wait to get our hands on him.

Actually, it was mostly me eager for that, since Nate was unfamiliar with babies. I don’t believe he’d ever held a baby, nor was he a natural with children. He worried about hurting little Luke if he held him, and I assured him babies were more durable than that.

When we finally got together with this little one, it was every bit as thrilling as I’d anticipated. A new baby! Right here in our family! I couldn’t think of any greater blessing. He looked just like his daddy, which was appropriate, since they shared a middle name: Charles.

Baby LukeI coaxed Nate to hold him, which he did reluctantly, but Luke performed perfectly. The evening flew by with our family baby becoming an even bigger hit than Mary’s delicious apple pie.

I loved watching Mary handle Luke. She seemed to glow with a special happiness I hadn’t seen in her before.

As Nate and I got in the car to head toward Mom and Dad’s for an overnight, I expounded on the good movies I’d gotten — an entire reel.

The next day was Luke’s debut at Moody Church, and we watched from the sidelines as he and his parents were swarmed by well-wishers. During our family lunch at a restaurant, it was my turn to hold him as he slept and admire his flawless skin — and oh that sweet baby scent. When it came time for us to say goodbye, our departure was difficult – until the whole group promised to come to Champaign for Thanksgiving. That made it easier.

Rolling creme centersOnce we were home, Nate returned to his grueling studies, and I went over to Cathy’s house to begin making Christmas candy. Our goal was to mix 6 batches of different crème fillings and then leave them to chill in preparation for dipping on another day. And we did it!

Much later, as Nate and I were readying for bed, I asked if he could drop off the movie film at the camera shop the next day. Longing to see and touch Luke again, I knew watching the movie would help.

When I opened the camera, though, I was stunned to see we’d shot 50 feet of pictures without any film! “I feel like I’ve just been robbed!” I said.

“Well,” Nate said, “at least you still have the movie that’s inside your head.” Though he was trying to encourage me, as always, I could have kicked myself for such an “expensive” oversight.

“Let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12)

Newlywed Love (#111)

October 23-25, 1970

Nate’s lengthy Estate Planning memo was due on October 23 – a thick document he’d worked on from mid-summer till now. He was deep into several other classes, too, and had been pouring on the power night and day. On the 23rd when I left for school, he was proofreading one last time.

As I was about to dismiss my morning kindergarteners, he appeared at our classroom door sporting a wide grin. I knew that meant the paper was done, and ran to give him a big hug… while the children giggled at us.

“I came to take you out to a celebration lunch,” he said. It was a moment of triumph, and I was delighted he had wanted to drive 40 miles to spend it with me. When lunch was over, it was difficult to say goodbye, but duty called. And Nate had to get back to his books.

Estate planningHopefully he would graduate in January after one last batch of exams. Both of us were keyed up about the end finally being in sight. Focusing for so long on his Estate Planning paper, though, had done something special for him – peaked his interest in that field. He talked about looking for his first job at one of the many Chicago banks, in a trust department.

I got goose bumps thinking of moving back to the Chicago area, and as we talked further, the goose bumps only grew. That’s because Nate said he wanted to look at a few apartments the next time we drove through the city. I couldn’t believe it! That would be the following day, when we went north to meet Baby Luke.

As I grabbed him to dance around the room, he said, “It’s too early to commit to anything. This will be strictly for research purposes. We need to find out what Chicago apartments cost and figure out how much is too much.”

Hancock CenterNot the least bit discouraged I said, “Let’s look at the 100-story John Hancock Center,” a nearly-new building purported to be the second tallest in the world. I’d heard it was one-third offices, one-third apartments, and one-third parking. And right on Lake Michigan’s beautiful shore!

After entertaining six friends on Friday evening, we got up early Saturday and headed for Chicago – and the John Hancock Center. It was a rude awakening to find out the only way to live there was to buy your apartment, and the prices were exorbitant!

We traveled north along Sheridan Road, stopping at several more buildings, all on Lake Michigan. Our research showed us that we wouldn’t be able to afford a high-rise or lakefront apartment at all but would have to settle for something “lower” (in terms of floors) and “farther” (away from the lake).

And there was one other factor, something that might have powerful sway over where we lived after graduation: The Army.

The ArmyWe knew at a minimum Nate would have to go on active duty for the summer, but depending on what I would be doing, we hoped we could still live together – whether in Chicago or at one of the many military posts across the land.

But only time would tell.

“My times are in Your hands.” (Psalm 31:15)

Newlywed Love (#110)

October 20-23, 1970

As the days passed, we didn’t see or hear from either Cathy or John. Our history had been to check in with each other frequently, and it wasn’t unusual for us to get together 3-4 times a week.

But our last conversation had ended badly with unresolved tension over the differences in our spiritual beliefs. As Nate and I talked about it further, I got an idea that was probably from God. Never once had Cathy and I done something apart from our guys. So I thought I’d reach out to her just one-on-one, two wives trying to be friends.

Nate thought the idea had promise, so I called Cathy. We talked without any strain, and then she came up with a great suggestion… a way to spend time together while also being productive. As a team of two, we would home-make all our Christmas gifts.

Just CathyThe next day she came over for coffee, and neither of us brought up her amorous professor or the subject of open marriage. Instead we listed gift ideas that would be inexpensive and fun to make – candles, chocolates, simple sewing items, and maybe some knitted things.

Cathy had a natural ability to organize and troubleshoot (skills I lacked), so she would assemble our supplies, and I would develop the ideas of how to use them.

A few days later we began by melting chunks of wax in my double boiler, coloring them with stubs of broken crayons I’d gleaned from my school’s waste baskets. At the end of the evening, we had several finished products and were ready to run a test on one of them. Hopefully it would actually burn.

Which two...It lit right up, and our victory shout was loud enough to bring Nate from his paper-writing. Never mind that the candle burned down twice as fast a store-bought version. It had a flame, it was a candle, and we were thrilled.

Gradually we worked out an efficient assembly line and were churning out all kinds of candles, no two alike — some thin, others fat, and some hand-shaped in rough-looking balls. When they were all lined up on my pull-down ironing board, they were an impressive sight.

But best of all was that Cathy and I had deepened our friendship without a hint of tension. As we parted, we set a date to start making chocolates.

Fanny May“I know how to do hand-dipping that will look as good as Fanny May!” she said. Both of our extended families loved chocolate candy, and we couldn’t wait to get started on Phase 2 of the Christmas Gift Adventure — and to continue growing a new friendship.

“Just as you want others to do for you, do the same for them.” (Luke 6:31)