Newlywed Love (#4)

December 4, 1969

Alarm clock.On the Thursday after our wedding, Nate and I woke to the ringing of an alarm clock — our official call-back into “regular life.” But waking up with a husband lying next to me was indeed something special. The charm of that hadn’t diminished at all…. but then again, we’d only had five such mornings.

“Hello, my husband!” I said, enamored with the sound of that.

His response was, “I love you, Meg.”

We extracted ourselves from the swoopy center of the Murphy bed, and Nate made coffee in our little percolator while I showered. But making coffee didn’t take long, and before I finished, he was peeking around the shower curtain, hoping to be invited in… which he was.

In an hour I was riding in Judy’s car on the way to Danville with her and Linda, mentally working hard to switch gears from bride to teacher. I couldn’t recall what I’d been teaching them when I left and was nervous about jumping right in. A sub had taken my place for 3 days, and I had no idea where the children were in their studies.

Lesson plan bookBut I needn’t have worried. While I was reacquainting myself with my lesson plan book, “my” children began running in, excited that I was back. Each wanted a personal hug, and their affection was exactly the encouragement I needed.

Once they were all at their desks and we’d said the Pledge of Allegiance, I began happily sharing the details of our wedding. But what they really wanted was to tell me what had happened in their lives while I’d been gone.

Many had gifts for me – drawings of turkeys, family members, and me. Together we hung them in a row across the blackboard, and I reminded them of my new name.

“But you’re Miss Johnson,” several said, with furrowed brows.

Lowering my voice to a whisper, I leaned toward them and said, “Let me tell you a little secret. I’m having trouble remembering my new name. I’ve been Miss Johnson for 24 years and have only had my new name for 5 days.” I held up 5 fingers, continuing to whisper. “I’m going to ask you for a big favor. Would you help me remember my new name?” None of them said a word.

Throughout that first day, I purposely referred to myself as Miss Johnson a number of times, and sure enough. They jumped all over me. “Not anymore! You’re Mrs. Nyman now!” Before long they were competing to see who could correct me first — and that’s all it took.

As we got closer to the 3:00 bell, my thoughts turned toward our apartment, hoping Nate would be there when I got home. Being separated from him had seemed unnatural after 7 days of togetherness.

Once our carpool had driven the 40 miles back to Champaign, I raced up the stairs and there he was, throwing the door open. He spread his arms wide, and I joyfully ran right in.

A student.His day of classes hadn’t passed as easily as my first day. He’d missed a great deal, and law school moves at a fast clip with massive reading assignments every day. He knew it would take a while to catch up and get on top of it again.

To this point in his studies he hadn’t missed a single class, so it was hard to deal with the fallout of having missed so many. My role in all of it, though, was a very nice one — to do everything I could to ease his stress.

“When we run into problems…. we know that they help us develop endurance.” (Romans 5:3)

Newlywed Love (#3)

December 3, 1969

LeavingAll too soon our honeymoon was over, and it was time to leave The Drake. We packed up, then stood together and looked around our room, promising never to forget all the happiness we’d known during our brief stay. The bell boy came to help us out, and I left the hotel just as I’d entered, carrying the giant bundle of my rolled up wedding gown and veil with the crown on top.

Nate went to retrieve his VW from the underground garage where it had been hiding for a week, and we loaded up. On a lark we decided to drive north to Wilmette before heading south to our apartment. Mom and Dad would be at Wednesday night prayer meeting, and we wanted to leave a surprise.

As we came in the kitchen door, I saw Mom’s diary open on the table with a note revealing how truly draining our wedding prep had been for her. On Sunday, the day after, she’d written, “Wondered if I could get thru Sunday – was bushed! Brot flowers home – some to ill folk.”

Mom's diary

Even in her depleted condition, she’d taken time to divide the wedding flowers and drive them to various nursing homes, passing out bouquets to shut-ins.

Mom rallied quickly after that. On Monday she’d written, “All the pressures are gone! And now Christmas music descends!”

Lawrence WelkI had no trouble picturing her making multiple trips to the airport to deposit out-of-town relatives but then heading home to her 33 rpm Christmas records cranked on high volume – Lawrence Welk and Mitch Miller.

Glad to see all was well on the home front, Nate and I took a minute to spread my wedding gown and veil (with crown) on their freshly-carpeted living room floor. Tucking our thank you letters into my white shoes, we placed them neatly at the bottom alongside our gifts for them – then joyfully pointed our car toward Champaign.

When we got there it was late, but we bounded up to our 3rd floor “nest” like a couple of teenagers, anxious to get going on real married life. Nate carried me across the threshold, and then we readied for sleep. Though we didn’t yet have a bedroom set, it didn’t matter. We could spend the night together on the Murphy with no fear of “getting caught” doing something we shouldn’t.

The MurphySitting on the edge of the pull-down bed, Nate wrapped his arms around me, and we talked about all that had happened in the week since we’d left our apartment. “Why don’t we pray?” he said. After voicing a long list of blessings, he thanked God for each one…. and spent several extra minutes thanking God for me.

And then we turned out the light.

“Let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.” (Hebrews 13:15)

Young Love (#141)

November 29-30, 1969

John & CathyJohn had driven our getaway car like a maniac, and we were proud of him for accomplishing exactly what he said he would – successfully separating us from our pursuers. Though Nate and I were anxious to get to The Drake Hotel and officially get our honeymoon started, we didn’t want to say goodbye to these dedicated friends too abruptly.

Sitting behind the gas station with our car lights off (just in case…), we were starting to worry about Nate in the bathroom so long. Then he came running out, dressed in jeans and juggling all the pieces of his tuxedo. “You wouldn’t believe how nice it was in there,” he said. “A full length mirror and everything!”

Choking on a laugh John said, “That, buddy, is because you were in the ladies room.” – which of course was the last thing gentleman-Nate would ever knowingly do.

MacsOn our way back to the expressway we spotted a McDonalds and decided to do something unconventional for a wedding night —   celebrate our victorious escape with a little treat. Sharing warm apple pie and coffee (in the car, of course), we laughed about the wedding party probably still trying to figure out how we got away. And we had to admit – the whole thing had been a happy lark.

When John pulled up to The Drake, it was almost 1:00 AM. We thanked him, then turned our attention to finding room 334. Nate had splurged on a two-room suite for the first night of our 4-day honeymoon, but we would transfer to a less lavish room for the remaining nights.

The Drake front door.As we entered the elegant Drake lobby full of fancy people, Nate had his tux neatly folded over his arm. I had my gown, train, and veil in a big round bundle with the crown perched on top. When the man at the desk spotted us, he smiled broadly. “Wedding day?”

“Yes,” Nate said, giving me a knowing look. “And a great day… so far!”

The bell hop picked up our suitcases and rode the elevator with us. He, too, couldn’t resist commenting. “Wedding night at The Drake, eh?”

As we nodded he said, “You’re lucky. There’s no finer place.”

He closed the door behind himself, and we looked at each other with a brand new look. Finally! We were married. We were alone. And we were free to do whatever we wanted. No one was going to object. No one was going to call, knock, or appear unannounced. And what a delicious feeing that was!

RosesEven though it was late, both of us wanted to slow down and savor the next moments. I spotted a dozen red roses in a pretty vase standing in a mirrored alcove. “Roses!”

“Read the card,” Nate said.

“To Mrs. Nyman… I love you, Meg.  Nate.”

Ahh… I loved the sound of it. Mrs. Nyman.

As I looked at the card, I flashed back to those hundreds of letters Nate had written in which he’d repeatedly penned those words:

I love you, Meg.  I love you, Meg.  I love you, Meg.

I love you, Meg.

Though it had taken me a long while to know I loved him back, he was rock-sure from the very beginning – a thought that warmed me now, through and through.

What if he hadn’t been patient enough? Or hopeful enough? Or resolute enough? What if he hadn’t persevered? I didn’t even want to think about it.

“Pursue… faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness.” (1 Timothy 6:11)