Newlywed Love (#102)

September 26, 1970

(Continued….)

As two young men in a small car continued to follow me home from school, my fear grew. I tried to make sense of their tailgating, puzzling over what their intentions were and why they picked me.

Driving.Gut instinct told me I might be in some real trouble. Had they just randomly seen me as I turned onto the expressway ramp? Or had they watched me get into my car in the school parking lot? Did they know where I worked?

One thing was sure: I couldn’t lead them to where I lived. But where would I go?

Questions tumbled into my mind, distracting me from driving. I was in the left lane going 80 mph in a car that sounded like it was about to explode when their car came alongside on the right, both men glaring at me. I tried not to look, not to show fear.

When I was half way home, they swerved to my other side, coming up on the left. This was really dangerous, since they were then driving on the shoulder.

I wished with all my might a squad car would come out of nowhere with lights flashing to pull them over for reckless driving. When I saw a giant light pole coming in their path, I thought they were going to crash right into it! But they swerved back on the highway just in time.

Police carI had read that if something like this ever happened, a driver should cause a minor accident to force another car and a “normal” driver into the situation – and also bring the police.

But snatching glances at the cars around me, I knew if I caused a crash, it would be fatal. We were going too fast. My heart was in my throat, and I began to think about Nate. Oh how I wished he was with me! What sensible thing would he suggest?

Dark despair flooded me. “Oh God!” I shouted. “Please, please help me! I don’t know what to do!”

We continued on, and as we came within 10 miles of home, very suddenly these men pulled to the far right and zoomed off an exit ramp — and they were gone! I felt like wailing with relief but knew I had to hold myself together to get safely home.

As I got off the highway several miles later, I came to the first stop sign of my journey and went to downshift. That’s when I realized I’d driven 40 miles at high speed with the car in 2nd gear the whole way. No wonder it had resisted my push on the gas pedal and sounded so loud! Oh, how I hoped I hadn’t ruined the engine.

I pulled in front of our building and raced up the steps two at a time, bursting through the door and throwing myself into Nate’s arms – and the anguished wailing came out.

He held me tightly, waiting for me to calm down enough to tell him – and after I did, I stayed wrapped in that place of safety for a long, long time.

photo strip“They attacked me at a moment when I was in distress, but the Lord supported me. He led me to a place of safety.” (Psalm 18:18-19)

 

Newlywed Love (#84)

Aug. 8-9, 1970

 

With Mary, Bervin, and Tom coming to Champaign for the weekend, Nate and I worked hard to clean the apartment, front to back. We didn’t own a vacuum but  had been given a partially-functional carpet sweeper. It was powered by good old fashioned elbow grease, and I always reserved that chore for Nate.

Carpet sweeperThe carpet sweeper had a revolving bar much like a vacuum, but it wouldn’t pick anything up unless the user pressed down hard while shoving it around the room. It was pure pleasure watching Nate throw himself into that assignment each week, and our dull, grey carpets never looked better.

When our little home was sparkling, we shopped together for fondue ingredients, thoroughly excited about our visitors. But as we unpacked the groceries, our phone rang — and brought bad news. Chicago weather had “turned,” and small planes weren’t allowed to fly. The forecast was better the following day, though, and they planned to come then.

When the weather didn’t improve, Mary and Bervin decided to drive. This shortened their visit to just a few hours, but we were glad they still wanted to come. Sadly, Tom couldn’t join them, since Corvettes have no back seat.

Fondue dinnerThey pulled up to our building just after lunch, and we headed for Allerton Park in an effort to work up an appetite for dinner.

Mary surprised me with dessert — a homemade birthday cake topped with 25 candles – quite the gift!

 

Introducing RussellWe got to meet their new Cocker Spaniel, Russell, and hear positive reports about how our Baron was doing. When I expressed guilt over leaving him with Mom and Dad, Mary insisted we not worry, describing how much Mom loved having a dog again. But a note in Mom’s diary hinted otherwise:

Tom enjoys the Baron – but he is work and concern for me.

By the end of the day, we’d caught up on all the news from home, and best of all had been able to “see” our first nephew/niece by way of Mary’s expanding tummy. To me it was an absolute wonder – a real live baby was about to join our all-adult family. Almost too good to be true!

LeavingAs they pulled away close to 10:00 PM, we calculated they wouldn’t get home till the wee hours – and were grateful they’d stayed so long. But watching their taillights disappear was torture for me. Our foursome was relatively new, and we longed to spend more time together. But distance (and Nate’s 7-day-a-week paper route) kept us apart.

 

Nate and I lingered on our building’s front porch long after they’d left, appreciating the song of crickets and the balmy summer night. But I was missing my sister already. “Where do you think we’ll end up after graduation?” I said. “Maybe in the Chicago area? Like… close to Mary and Bervin?”

Mary with Corvette“No promises,” Nate said. “It’ll all depend on where I can get the best job.”

But as we climbed the stairs my last thought was, “Chicago’s a really big city. Surely there’s one good job there for Nate.”

“Lord… you hold my future.” (Psalm 16:5)

Newlywed Love (#79)

July 19-25, 1970

Nate and I were happy to spend some weekend time washing and waxing our sleek, black Mustang with the terrible “bad breath” — hopeful that its handsome appearance would sell it quickly. It was enjoyable working together on a project that didn’t involve mental strain, since it seemed like all we ever did was study.

Mustang grill

I felt overloaded with student teaching, seminars, and homework, but once Nate got deep into his law classes, there was no comparison as to who was busiest. He won, hands down.

Mom's letterAfter we finished the car, I opened a long letter from Mom, thanking us for their time in Champaign. She also wrote about Mary and Bervin getting a dog, a Cocker Spaniel. Rusty and Baron were becoming friends, and Mom wrote two paragraphs describing their antics.

As I read the letter, a new thought came. Did they really want to keep Baron for us, or were they just doing it as a sacrificial favor? Were we taking advantage of them by asking them to keep him?

Mom wrote, The Baron is A-OK, tearing up a box right now in the basement here. He brightens our lives.

But I pictured Mom, on her hands and knees, cleaning up shredded cardboard and I had my doubts. I knew she worried about Baron running off when they were outside and had no good answer for what they would do with him if they went on vacation.

And all of a sudden I began to cry. Nate came running and put his arms around me. “What’s the matter?”

Tuckered out Baron“I feel guilty that Mom and Dad have to keep our dog. They have to feed and house him, watch over him, and she just wrote that they took him in for his first round of puppy shots. We should be doing that.”

“Yes, but your mother really does love him – genuinely.”

“I know, but it isn’t just that.” And through tears I began remembering aloud all the ways my parents had helped us – going along with our rushed wedding plans, accepting Nate with enthusiasm, providing furniture, rugs, virtually everything in our apartment.

My familyThey had loaned us money, which moved my thoughts back to the cost of my college education… and so much more. I thought of my childhood as I grew up in an atmosphere of listening and love. Best of all, they had introduced me to Jesus Christ from the beginning, modeling lives committed to him.

As I sat with Mom’s letter in my lap and Nate’s arms around me, I sobbed and sobbed, overwhelmed with how much I’d been given and wondering if I had taken these gifts for granted. Did they know how much I appreciated everything? Had I thanked them enough?

Nate suggested I put all my thoughts into a long letter. “It’ll make you feel better to write it, and they’ll love receiving it.”

He was right, and I began. But even as I penned page after page of gratitude, my thoughts were on the Baron-dilemma.

“If you honor your father and mother, things will go well for you.” (Ephesians 6:3)