Newlywed Love (#96)

September 6-7, 1970

M, E, and B

A blog note:

Our daughter Birgitta and granddaughter Emerald (right) will be arriving tonight for a happy weekend in Michigan.

 

Then on Monday, my college roommate Julie (below) will be coming with her friend Ming for the rest of the week.

 

Beach buddiesBecause of these festivities, the blog-saga of Meg and Nate’s newlywed year will be on hold for a week or so.

Eventually we’ll get them to their first wedding anniversary (November 29) before closing the book on them. First, though, let’s see how the 1970 Labor Day weekend finished out:

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Smooching BaronAfter Lynn and Don’s wedding, Nate and I made a bee-line across two suburbs to Mom and Dad’s place in Wilmette – anticipating a reunion with our beloved doggie Baron. As soon as we saw him, Nate scooped him up and planted a kiss right on his nose. (Picture is of a second kiss the next day…)

We were astounded by how much he’d grown. Obviously, he was a happy, healthy poochie.

On Sunday, Mom hosted a mid-day dinner that doubled as a birthday party for Dad (#71) and brother Tom (#20), who was born on Dad’s 50th.

 

David and TomAmong the party guests was Tom’s good friend David (to the left of Tom), the guy who had become a regular babysitter for Baron. As the afternoon unfolded, Nate and I could see how close David and Baron had become, with “our” puppy responding better to him than to us.

 

 

On the drive back to Champaign early the next morning, we could see the writing on the wall. Since we had one more year in our apartment where dogs weren’t allowed, and since Mom and Dad seemed to continually be on the move, Baron would be spending more and more time with David — and end up in his family instead of ours.

Playing with BaronThough we could rightfully claim him after our year in Champaign, by then that would be hard on both boy-and-dog. So, as we ticked off the miles toward home, we felt ourselves slowly accepting a difficult truth: we would need to begin separating from sweet Baron.

We drove along in silence trying to absorb this sad reality, and I remembered something David had said at the dinner. “I hope some day you’ll let me take care of Baron full time. That would be a dream come true for me. And my whole family already loves him.”

Though Nate was feeling low too, he came up with one positive thought. “I’m sure if Baron went with David, he’d let us visit him any time we came to town.” Since his family and ours were good friends through decades together at Moody Church, I knew that was true.

“Also,” Nate said, “letting your parents get out from under the responsibility we never should have put on them in the first place, is the right thing to do.” We both knew that, too.

Shaking a balloonBy the time we pulled into our gravel parking spot behind the apartment, Nate and I reasoned that maybe the back story of why Baron had come to us at all was because God wanted us to deliver him to David. As hard as that was to think about, it would mean that everything was actually turning out the way it was supposed to be.

“Submit to God and be at peace with him.” (Job 22:21)

Newlywed Love (#70)

June 20, 1970

Mom has always been good at lifting the downhearted, and she proved it again when Nate and I arrived in Wilmette. After a difficult week and a miserable drive in an old, beat-up rented van, we walked into my folks’ house feeling deeply discouraged.

Toast and tea.Mom and Dad were watching the ten-o’clock news, each with a TV tray next to their favorite chairs. On the trays was the nightly snack they’d shared every evening for as long as I could remember: buttered toast with cheese, a piece of fruit, and a cup of tea.

Walking into this peaceful scene made our lives, by comparison, seem like they were in shambles – lack of income, sky-high bills, no work for Nate, unexpected summer school for me, the Army breathing down our necks, and a slew of life-shaping decisions looming.

Mom popped out of her chair when we saw us, welcoming us and lovingly taking Baron from my arms. “Sit down, you two,” she said. “I’ll make some more toast.”

By the end of the newscast, both of us were feeling better, nourished by kindness and good food. “How was the drive?” Mom said. Nate and I regaled them with van-stories that no longer seemed upsetting… only laughable.

“We practically had to push it ourselves to get it here without overheating,” I said.

“I guess,” Nate added, “that’s why the company’s called U-DO-IT.”

As we adjourned for bed, Dad said to Nate, “What do I owe you for the van rental?” And we were thankful he remembered.

Breakfast in 1140 yardWhen we came out the next morning, Mom had breakfast set up in the yard. Our backdrop was her clean laundry flapping on a clothesline like festive flags. She was practicing what she’d always preached: “Hang your wash out to dry, and your whole house will smell sweet.”

We ate our fill while Mom told us how eager they were to make little Baron part of their household routine (as she intermittently slipped him bits of ham and eggs). Nate and I knew they would treat him royally, and it would solve the problem of breaking our landlord’s rules.

Mom and BaronBrother Tom, home from American University for the summer, was driving for a limousine service. (“The pay isn’t great, but the job is fun.”) He arrived home just in time to help us load the van with the “treasures” Mom and Dad had collected for our apartment.

As we drove away – after dark, for the benefit of the van’s engine – our smiles were genuine.

 

The Baron and bone

 

Part of the reason was the decision not to part with Baron after all. We just loved him too much to let him go. So he was safely in my arms as I knelt on the hard van floor waving goodbye to my parents.

Something Dad said as we were leaving was pretty special, too. “I’m glad you’re furthering your education this summer. More knowledge can never hurt you. And paying for it is my job, so send all your tuition bills to me.”

“God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)

Newlywed Love (#45)

March 21, 1970

BlondieBetween Nate and I, he was the one with the beautiful hair. He didn’t think much about it, but I loved his heavy blonde tresses and encouraged him to grow more of it.

By 1970, most young men had said goodbye to their crew cuts and flat tops, which were considered “very 1950’s.” The Beatles, with their mops of hair, had hit the States in 1964, causing gasps of disapproval from every parent in the country.

More hairBut now, 6 years later, longer hair on men had become fashionable. Nate decided to let his hair grow over his collar and also to grow a mustache. I was thrilled about all of it.

Jumping on the band wagon, I decided to let my hair grow, too, though it was fine and thin and would never look as good as Nate’s. It grew slower, too, and my current not-short-but-not-long hairdo was, I thought, ugly.

 

 

Shiny wigI’d been wearing an artificial hair wig that had so much shine to it everyone knew it was fake. But as the weather warmed, it felt like a winter cap – hot and uncomfortable.

One day while Nate and I wandered through the local mall on our way to buy coffees, I spotted a human-hair “fall” in one of the stores. It was sandy blonde and was attached to a headband. Getting ready for work in the morning would be so easy with that! All I’d have to do would be comb my real hair back, hiding its choppy look, and slip on the headband.

Unfortunately the fall had an exorbitant price: $27  [$184 equivalent], much too pricey for our lean budget.

The fallAs always, though, Nate was watching me closely and listening to what I said. Within the week he had donated a pint of blood, presenting me with the money and insisting I use it to buy the fall. I was thrilled and jumped all over him in a show of appreciation.

The first day I wore the fall to school, my students scrunched up their noses and expressed loud disapproval. “It’s not your real hair!” they insisted. “It looks dopey!” But just like they’d gotten used to my new name, after a few days they adjusted to the new hair.

No doubt the general public knew it was an add-on, but I fooled myself into thinking it looked natural. And lightening my own hair to match the fall made me feel like a brand new woman.

Once I set aside the wig, Nate admitted he hadn’t really liked it all that much, though he quickly added that even if I was completely bald, I would still be the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen (….quite the exaggeration, in my opinion.)

As I worked with the fall and learned to care for it, I wondered if he disliked that, too. Any considerate wife would have asked him outright, before she opened the original packaging. That way she could return it, if her husband wasn’t all that fond of it. But I hadn’t checked with him – because I wanted to keep it.

And I wondered, what did that say about me?

“Love does not insist on its own way.” (1 Corinthians 13:5)