Newlywed Love (#121)

November 25-26, 1970 – Thanksgiving Eve and Day

Nate and I finally figured out where we would sleep my parents, brother, and three aunties on the night before Thanksgiving. Agnes and Ruth would go in our bedroom, having hoped for a closed door. Helen would be comfortable on the living room couch.

TommyMom and Dad would cuddle up on the pull-down Murphy bed, and Tom would have the dining room floor.

Nate and I would be on the living room floor in front of the fireplace – a sleeping spot not unfamiliar to us. And the whole night promised to be unique!

After our cake and coffee at about 10:00 PM Wednesday evening, we took turns in the bathroom and then said our good-nights. Mom was so into the adventure of it all she couldn’t settle down, cracking jokes about her sleeping spot with Dad in the swoopy Murphy bed.

“Don’t look at what’s going on in this bed,” she said. “It’s x-rated.” Of course she was joking, and I could hear Dad trying to shush her so he could drift off to sleep.

Dad carvesSomehow we made it through the night and a nourishing scrambled egg breakfast before Mary, Bervin, little Luke, and doggie Russell arrived. Then Mom lent me her cooking expertise, and when everything was finally ready, Dad did the carving on the sink drain board. Despite having prepared the meal in a kitchen with only 18 inches of counter-space, our late afternoon Thanksgiving feast was a success.

After washing all the dishes assembly-line style, we “youngsters” played games on the floor while the “oldsters” nodded off.

Aunt Agnes snoozesDad snoozes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was peaceful… and perfect. And I was proud of Nate for setting aside his books completely throughout the day. They were on his mind, to be sure, pressing hard, but he never mentioned them.

Family photoMom wanted to take a family photo announcing their first grandchild in a Christmas card, so we assembled in front of the window. Our Danville friend Rick took the picture.

A family of five had begun to grow, and now we were eight. Mom wondered aloud how many might join the ranks in future years. “The more the merrier,” she said, meaning it with all her heart.

Around 10:00 PM our guests began getting their coats, which we’d known ahead of time had to happen. Even the Chicago group was committed back home the next morning.

Saying goodbyeNate and I stood at our apartment door waving them down the stairs, one group at a time, deeply thankful that the whole family had been together. Our time had been short — but memorable.

And with our parting words, we promised to host a Thanksgiving dinner for the whole family every year from that day forward – no matter how big we grew.

“Giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me.” (Psalm 50:23)

Newlywed Love (#106)

October 7, 1970

Nate continued his industrious studying, and I did my best to help him. The tapping of our typewriter was the music of our evenings. Once in a while, when we both needed a break, we’d call Cathy and John to see if they needed a break, too.

CakeOn one of those evenings we invited them over for a quick cup of coffee and a piece of chocolate cake at 8:30 – but our quick break didn’t end till after midnight.

Nate and I brought up something from our Sunday school class that was Bible-based, which made no sense to either Cathy or John – who had no personal faith in Christ.

When they left, there was a new tension in the air between us. Something had changed, and as Nate and I did the dishes, we tried to figure it out. How could four good friends fail to come together by the end of the evening? We’d been pals since Nate and I had gotten engaged and had never had a break in the relationships.

We wondered if maybe they were unhappy as a married couple. They never said so and seemed to love each other, but John had quit law school and wasn’t working either. Maybe that big shift was taking a toll on them both.

We tried to recall anything we’d discussed over our cake that might have offended. One thing that stood out was when Cathy told us about her professor making a pass at her on several different days.

“Wow!” I said. “Didn’t he see your wedding ring?”

“Yes, but that didn’t seem to bother him.”

Three's a crowdThat’s when we refilled our coffee cups and began round-tabling the subject of open marriage. Nate and I had talked about this new trend weeks earlier with a different set of friends, astounded that any thinking person would condone such an idea – husbands and wives inviting other partners into their relationship.                                                                                   (Illustration by Ben Barrett-Forrest/The Globe and Mail)

But there we were, chatting with close friends… and they liked this bizarre idea, too. We tried to convince them it would destroy their marriage, while they tried to convince us it was the open-minded, free-thinking, modern way to live.

The chasm between our opinions widened as the hours of our chocolate-cake-break passed, and our introducing God’s Word into the mix only made matters worse.

God's instructionAs Nate and I covered the leftover cake and turned out the kitchen light, we concluded it was these opposing views that were responsible for the tension between us. Scripture was black and white about marriage, but our friends saw marriage as evolving into something different… to suit the times.

 

We worried about Cathy’s welfare in light of her professor’s advances. Though she assured us she wasn’t interested in this particular man, would she eventually say yes to someone else? And if she did, how could John really be OK with that?

We also wondered if tonight’s friction would cloud our next get-together. Would the same discussion continue where we left off? Or would we go back to being compatible by just avoiding the topic? And most concerning of all, would we still be friends?

“Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family.” (Proverbs 18:24, The Message)

Newlywed Love (#96)

September 5, 1970

After Lynn and Don’s wedding rehearsal, we were all primed to see them tie the knot. But there was much to be done first.

Done do'sWe bridesmaids, along with Lynn’s mom, headed for a salon where several hairdressers transformed our flat swimming-pool-hair to full-bodied, bouncy curls. Even my head, with hair not nearly as long as the others, was coaxed by their expert hands to cooperate. As we left, our up-dos all matched.

M,B,M,NWhen it was finally time to parade down the church aisle, all of us were eager for it, especially the bride and groom. Although Nate and I had separate assignments, we took every chance to whisper quick reminiscences about our own wedding day… such happy memories.

Mary and Bervin were there along with my parents, and Mom was at the organ. It was fun connecting with old Moody Church cronies along with former summer camp friends. And the pastor did a superb job pulling Lynn’s and Don’s life-stories together.

Cutting the cakeBefore we knew it, we were in the church fellowship hall with the newly-married couple, watching them cut their wedding cake – with one of the very long swords.

When it was all over, Nate and the others hustled upstairs to march in formation toward the wedding arch.

 

Arch-guys marchThe arch

Lynn and Don were definitely the stars of the day, but my personal star was Nate, and I couldn’t help being very proud of him as I watched him fulfill his duties with excellence.

Actually, I couldn’t wait to get him home alone. I wanted to tell him once more how glad I was to be married to him, knowing he’d be my partner “till death parted us,” as we had vowed on our wedding day 9 months earlier.

We all knew that Don, because of his active status with the Army, would be going to Vietnam in April. That meant he and Lynn had less than 8 months together before he would be gone for a year.

Nate and I couldn’t imagine how that would feel for a newlywed couple that just wanted to be together. But we also knew the same thing could happen to Nate, even though he was only in the reserves. It all depended on how long the war would continue.

M and NIn any case, as I watched Lynn and Don get married, I promised myself I would never take Nate’s presence for granted, not for a single day, and would appreciate every hour we had together.

“Outdo one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:10)