Young Love (#93)

RoomiesA special note:

Tomorrow I’ll be boarding a plane to Europe to spend time with my college roommate Julie, who lives in Germany.


Six kidsFrom there I’ll head over to England to meet my 12th grandchild, two-week-old Jonathan. I’m eager to catch up with his parents, too – Hans and Katy – and their five other children – Nicholas (8), Evelyn (6), Thomas (6), Andrew (3), and Elizabeth (1).

While I’m gone, I won’t be able to blog, but I’ll resume “Young Love” on March 1st.

See you then!


But first the conclusion to yesterday’s post:

September 20-21, 1969

As Mom and I drove the 12 miles from Wilmette to Arlington Heights, I ran through a mental list of all her “girlfriends,” trying to remember the names of everyone who would be at my surprise bridal shower. More than likely it would be her “club” of about a dozen women, and I knew them all.

When I walked in the front door, though, it turned out I didn’t really have to fake being surprised. The room was jammed with women, over 40 of them, three generations of happy faces all yelling, “SURPRISE!” And I was stunned! They had pulled it off after all.

At the showerWe spent the afternoon chatting, playing pencil-paper games with a wedding theme, eating delicious fancy foods, and opening mountains of beautiful gifts. I was speechless and couldn’t wait to report every detail to Nate.

His mother was there (below, center) having driven a long way, and also her two sisters, Nate’s aunts, who I was eager to get to know.

Shower with NateAnd better than everything else was the big surprise I got half way through the afternoon…. when in walked Nate! He had driven the three hours and braved a mob of women, most of whom he didn’t know, simply because he missed me. I was thrilled! And best of all, everybody got to meet my groom ahead of the wedding. It was a perfect afternoon.

After loading up all the “loot” (as Mom called it) and heading back to Wilmette, there was no time to go car-shopping with Dad, but that was alright. Mom volunteered her VW van so we could put the Corvette out of service and work on selling it. And we would plan to return on another weekend to hunt for a car.

When we got back to Champaign, there was a letter waiting from Aunt Joyce. Her words put our weekend of receiving lots of “loot” into the proper perspective. Isn’t it wonderful to be in love and belong to the Lord Jesus Christ? What more could one (“or two”) desire?

From Aunt Joyce

“Walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.” (Ephesians 5:2)

Young Love (#92)

September 20, 1969


When the weekend came, I hoped to return to Champaign behind the wheel of a new-used car. Dad’s opinion would have to factor in heavily, since he would be fronting half the money, so I figured we would be leaning into the practical. Nate and I had probably seen our last sports car, but it had been a fun run.

I also knew Mom’s friends planned to surprise me with a bridal shower over the weekend, which seemed almost too good to be true. Presents!

More velvetAs for Nate, he’d be spending the weekend in Champaign bent over his books. I knew he needed to study, but it was really hard to say goodbye.

At my parents’ house, Lynn (one of my bridesmaids and my oldest friend) came over. We dug into the bridesmaids’ velvet again, cutting out the pieces for the 3 gowns she had graciously agreed to make. And of course our work turned into hilarious fun, too.

After that, Mom and I sat down with her red notebook of “wedding stuff” and ripped through a long list of decisions she’d already researched. We started with a lovely task, choosing the cake.

CakeThe bakery said there was a new trend in wedding cakes, frosting them in white as usual but spraying bits of color on them to match the wedding colors. We chose a burgundy spray to go on grapes made of white frosting, encircling each layer. It would be white cake with a chocolate topper to be saved for our first anniversary.

Next, we talked about wedding favors. Mom had already decided on wrapped pieces of groom’s cake packaged in small white boxes with our names on them. She said her women-friends would handle those – folding the boxes, cutting fruit cake, wrapping the pieces, and filling the boxes.

Then we chose the flowers, burgundy-tinted rubrum lilies and wine-red roses for the bridesmaids’ to carry, with a “waterfall” of white stephanotis for me. Mom suggested big white sprays of mums, roses, and gladiolas across the front of the church and centerpieces of pink, red, and white carnations on the reception tables.


My head began to spin, but she continued.

For the head table it would be lilies and roses, and then there was a long list of corsages of many varieties, and of course boutonnieres. She had sketched a picture of glowing candles and giant bows to decorate the aisles (two of them at Moody Church) with wide ribbon-garlands between.

She lost me at about the word “centerpieces” as giant dollar signs throbbed in my head. Poor Dad.

MusicMom already had a handle on the music. Having played for countless ceremonies, she was a pro. I wanted a traditional wedding, so she suggested Wagner’s “Bridal Chorus” (Here Comes the Bride) for the processional, and Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March” for the recessional. Just the words “Wedding March” made her jump to the piano bench and play a grand version of it for me – causing joyful goose bumps!

I had been thinking about music, too, and was hoping for two things: a stringed quartet to play as people were being seated, and a song that would be sung by a very special choir of seven: the bridesmaids. I knew they could all carry a tune and hoped they would agree to do it. It would be a song of thanks to God representing the feelings Nate and I would be having at that moment. Mom liked the idea and suggested the hymn, “Thanks Be to God.”

Thanks be to God for love divine, the hopes that round my heart entwine; for all the joy that now is mine, Thanks be to God!

We were ripping through one item after another when Mom abruptly closed her notebook and said, “How about riding along with me on an errand to Arlington Heights?” I knew it must be time for the bridal shower and hoped I could act surprised.

“The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.” (Psalm 84:11)

Young Love (#91)

September 19, 1969


A busy womanMom was running around like a crazy woman trying to get everything done at home. Though I didn’t see most of it from my vantage point 156 miles away, her diary has a few blank pages with the words “So rushed!” on them. But she did take time to drop a note in the mail:

“Honey – It must be frustrating trying to plan a wedding from 156 miles away. Let us do all we can from here. It’s fun and it pleasures us. All is well here. Oh how I’d love to tuck you into a clean cozy bed and stand guard through a round-the-clock slumber for you! Just make a list of things you need done, and advise.” (I must have been complaining about being too busy, but compared to her, I was on vacation.)

And right about now Mom signed to have a contractor redo her kitchen. Our wedding was 9 weeks away, but ever the optimist (Dad would say gambler) she said, “It’ll get  done.”

TomAmidst all of this my brother Tom resurfaced from his school in the east, giving Mom another chance to mother him. Because she missed him so much, this was special to her – and she wrote it up in her diary. He’d forgotten to pack a suit coat and needed one a.s.a.p. for a university commitment.

Mom scrambled to think of someone she knew in Washington DC who would agree to deliver some cash to Tom (no credit cards then) so he could buy a jacket. But she succeeded and was thrilled that her “baby” had needed her again.

Our little apartment mailbox often contained inspiring messages, and we were glad others were sharing in our happiness. Aunt Joyce wrote, “All of us here are so excited for you, praying that the Lord will cause you to grow in Him as you establish another Christian beachhead, starting November 29, 1969!” She always had an upbeat way of presenting us with a new challenge.

Though we still didn’t own much and tried to stay out of the stores, one afternoon when I arrived home from work, Nate greeted me holding something behind his back. Grinning ear-to-ear he said, “I got you something!”

He brought his hands around and held up a pretty suede skirt. “On sale!” he said. “And I just had to see my beautiful fiancé in it!”

Suede skirtI was flabbergasted he would buy me such a personal gift and immediately tried it on. Then, getting goofy as we often did in those heady days, I became the model and he the photographer. He was pleased that I was pleased, and as the day ended, we felt closer than ever.

Around midnight every night, though, we took a page out of Cinderella’s story — Nate would head down the stairs and off toward his tiny rented room a mile away. It wasn’t easy kissing him goodbye, but just before he left, it helped to have a prayer time together, followed by the ritual of crossing off one more day on the count-down to our wedding…. when my “prince charming” would no longer have to disappear at midnight.

“Let love be genuine… Hold fast to what is good.” (Romans 12:9)