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 (#109)

October 15-18, 1970

As the week passed, we eagerly awaited Mary and Bervin’s call about their baby. I told Nate, “She must feel like a ticking time bomb.”

ConcordsWhen I finally decided to call her, she was in the middle of making grape jelly from Concords growing in their back yard. No idle sitting and waiting for her.

And then it happened! On Thursday, October 15, Bervin let us know they had become the parents of a healthy baby boy named Luke Charles —

8 pounds 9 ounces with mother and baby doing great!

Baby LukeThis news sent me into a happy tailspin like a wild kite that couldn’t decide where to fly. I wanted to jump in the car immediately and head for Chicago, but when I finally talked to Mary, she said I should wait. She and Luke would be in the hospital for 5 more days, and visiting time was limited to the father and two approved visitors per day for just a few minutes each.

Swedish Covenant Hospital was determined to protect new moms from overdoing, and strict visiting hours were part of that. Mary invited us to come the following weekend, October 24-25, when they would be home.

Mom was ecstatic about her first grandchild and waxed eloquent in her diary:

Thank you, Wonderful Lord. Thank you! Luke will always belong to you first. By 7:00 we were at the hospital and saw LIL LUKE! The 4 of us stood and adored the wee boy. Our cup is full and running over indeed! Called Margaret and Tom…

Mom's diary, Oct. 15

Meanwhile Mom was limited in her visiting time, too, and wouldn’t get to actually hold Luke till he was at home. It would be a challenge for her even then, because she had taken a fall a few days earlier, badly breaking her arm and bruising her tailbone.

Mom holding LukeHer cast and the constant pain reoriented her life in an unwelcome way. Mom loved to work hard, and being side-lined was the worst possible fate for her. She didn’t take it well.

Her first loss was having to stop playing the Moody Church organ for 6-7 weeks. She also had garden bulbs she had hoped to plant, along with several small trees. And there was her annual fall canning project — cherries, peaches, applesauce, grape jelly, and tomatoes.

She’d also had scheduled herself to lay some indoor-outdoor carpeting, paint the sun porch, and organize the small greenhouse she and Dad maintained through the winter. Her entertaining schedule was packed with hosting dinners at home, as well as cooking every week at the all-church supper.

She was hoping to antique four chairs, rake the yard, and bring potted plants inside before the first freeze. Dad understood her struggle but did his best to slow her down. “If you overdo, the bone won’t heal right.” But he knew his warnings were falling on deaf ears. After all, it was MOM.

Dad admiresShe wouldn’t be a typical orthopedic case… nor would she ever be a typical grandma.

“I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.” (Revelation 2:19)

Newlywed Love (#107)

October 8-10, 1970

M and BMary’s due date, October 7, had come and gone without a baby. Though she was realistic, I wondered if something might be wrong. “Nothing to worry about,” she said. “In a week or two we’ll be holding him or her in our arms.” I decided to take her word for it, as an experienced nurse.

Meanwhile life continued for Nate and me as he poured himself into the last semester of law school and I played with 5-year-olds all day. In the month or so since school began, I’d made two new friends, Lynn and Barbara — both teachers. Once in a while we began seeing each other outside of school hours.

Lynn was a student-wife like me, living in Champaign with her new husband, and Barbara lived in Danville with hers. When our first PTA evening of the year came on October 8, Barbara invited both Lynn and I to her home after school – so we wouldn’t have to drive our 80 miles twice in one day.

The three of us put our feet up for a while and shared dinner at McDonald’s before returning to school for the long evening with parents. By the time I pulled in at home, it was almost 11:00 PM — but walking in to Nate’s hugs and kisses was the best possible end to a long day.

That night, however, I had trouble sleeping. My hands, face, and neck began to itch something fierce, and in the light of day I saw why. There were little dots everywhere, thousands of them, and each one had a white center. It was the strangest rash I’d ever seen.

Nate was concerned. “Are you allergic to anything?”

“Not that I know of,” I said.

“I think we better see a doctor,” he said. “And you probably shouldn’t go to school, since it might be contagious.”

Sumac conesI called in sick, and we headed for the Carle Clinic. The doctor took one look and said, “Have you been in the woods lately?”

“Well,” I said, “we did go to Allerton Park and there are woods there, but we didn’t really go into them.”

“Did you pick any plants while you were there?” And of course we had.

Unbeknownst to us, the sumac leaves and cones we’d collected were famous for causing rashes, and I had fooled around with them most of the day. The doctor explained. “Sumac poisoning is like poison oak or poison ivy but actually can be even worse.

The leaves, cones, roots… all of it has an oily resin on it that irritates skin. Once you touch it, anyplace else you touch with the resin still on your fingers can get ‘poisoned’ too. That’s why it’s on your face and forearms.”

More of Allerton.

He gave me a salve to coat the rash and said I should be looking better in a few days. That worked well with the long Columbus Day weekend just ahead.

Though I had to take a sick day, I felt just fine, so I talked Nate into a quick study break…

…at Allerton Park.

“Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health.” (3 John 1:2)