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 (#94)

September 1-4, 1970

The day after Nate’s newspaper meltdown, he was clear-headed and had his decision. He would quit the route. Although both of us had been taught not to be quitters, we agreed that this time it was a case of cutting our losses.

I went off to my first full day with the kindergarteners knowing that by the time I returned, a heavy burden would have been lifted from my husband’s worn out shoulders. And when I did come home, tired but content, he greeted me at the door – with a “thank-you-hydrangea.”

Hydrangea --Over and over he thanked me for being supportive of his decision to quit, saying he hoped I didn’t think less of him for it. But I told him that in my deepest heart, I knew it was the right thing to do and was proud of him for facing it head-on.

His boss hadn’t made it easy, but he had accepted Nate’s resignation, telling him he’d seen it coming. Then he reiterated his threat about the bond card.

“I’ll pay the money for sure,” Nate said. And we both knew he would.

Now Nate was eager to catch up on his Estate Planning course without the paper route hanging over him. Concentrated studying never looked so good.

Studying. The law school trimester system scheduled the fall term to begin in late September, so the heaviest part of his summer class was just ahead – lengthy papers and a complicated “memo,” Parts I, II, and III.

“I’ll type it all for you,” I said, wanting to help. “Maybe I can learn something.” With all the legalese in his papers, however, that was doubtful.

The week passed happily as we adjusted to a less-stressed life, and I got back into the rhythm of an 80 mile commute. I was figuring out who-was-who among my adorable students and treasured my time with them so much I would have taught them for free – had we not needed the money.

With my regular paycheck, though, we could chip away at the $170 debt and show good faith to both sets of parents by starting paybacks to them, too. We planned to drive to Wilmette over Labor Day weekend to help our friends Lynn and Don get married, and would also get to catch up with family… including Baron!

Earlier in the week Nate had secured permission to borrow four Army swords for the wedding arch, and by Thursday his pressed uniform was hanging in the bedroom, all set to go. My pseudo-military gown was ready, too, hanging at Lynn’s house, where we had stitched it together.

Nate's uniformAfter dinner on Thursday we were packing when I surprised Nate by coming out of the bedroom in his Army coat. I knew he would love it, and he did, asking me to pose for a picture.

I also knew he’d want to quickly take it off and get it safely back on the hanger… which is why I wasn’t wearing anything underneath. Who knew packing could be so much fun?

“Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you.” (Proverbs 5:18)

Newlywed Love (#93)

August 31, 1970

 

After an exhilarating first day with my kindergarteners, I was unprepared for what I found when I walked into the apartment. Nate was on the phone in a highly stressed conversation. The discussion was heated, and I couldn’t figure out who might be on the line with him.

He nodded at me when I came in, but his expression of anger didn’t change. As I put my things down, he said, “But you can’t do that! It just isn’t fair!” I knew he must be talking to someone connected with his paper route, probably a disgruntled, non-paying customer.

ComplainingSince the very beginning Nate had received several phone calls a day, each with a complaint. “My paper was damp.” Or, “My paper fell from the delivery tube.” Or, “Why can’t you deliver the paper to my porch?”

The complaints never stopped, but worse than that, after many weeks of faithful, timely deliveries, Nate had earned precious little money.

 

As he continued on the phone, I walked up behind him and put my arms around his waist – always magical for us both. But today it didn’t work. As the conversation ended, he banged down the phone and turned around.

“A customer?” I said, stepping back.

“Boss-man.”

“About what?”

Once again Nate was behind in paying the Courier office for his newspapers since so many customers didn’t pay him. The money from paid accounts went toward our bills, but that meant falling behind with the office. And this time his boss made a threat.

$170.00“You owe us $170, buddy, [$1100 today] and if you don’t pay up, we’re going to take bond card action on you.”

I wasn’t sure what that meant, but whatever it was, it made Nate furious. “If they pull a stunt like that,” he said, “it could prevent me from joining the Bar Association or something worse, down the road.”

It was shocking to hear they had that kind of power over him when nothing his boss had promised about the job had come to be. “I just want to quit,” he said, his shoulders slumping in defeat.

Upset“Well,” I said, “I’ll make some coffee, and let’s talk about it. Don’t worry. We’ll figure it out.”

He told me he’d tried to give blood again for the $25, but the clinic had turned him down, saying they had a full supply at the moment. That meant I couldn’t give either.

As we talked we focused on the question of quitting and decided to wait a day or two before deciding. That night I wrote about it in my journal:

I don’t know whether to encourage and urge enthusiasm to forge ahead, or to sympathize and urge to quit and “not think about it.” I wonder about all of this.

The journal

Nate didn’t eat much dinner and was up and down all night stressing about how to end the nightmare. Watching him suffer convinced me he should give notice and quit – though we’d still have to find a way to pay the $170.

“My inward parts are in turmoil and never still; days of affliction come to meet me.” (Job 30:27)