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 (#102)

September 26, 1970


As two young men in a small car continued to follow me home from school, my fear grew. I tried to make sense of their tailgating, puzzling over what their intentions were and why they picked me.

Driving.Gut instinct told me I might be in some real trouble. Had they just randomly seen me as I turned onto the expressway ramp? Or had they watched me get into my car in the school parking lot? Did they know where I worked?

One thing was sure: I couldn’t lead them to where I lived. But where would I go?

Questions tumbled into my mind, distracting me from driving. I was in the left lane going 80 mph in a car that sounded like it was about to explode when their car came alongside on the right, both men glaring at me. I tried not to look, not to show fear.

When I was half way home, they swerved to my other side, coming up on the left. This was really dangerous, since they were then driving on the shoulder.

I wished with all my might a squad car would come out of nowhere with lights flashing to pull them over for reckless driving. When I saw a giant light pole coming in their path, I thought they were going to crash right into it! But they swerved back on the highway just in time.

Police carI had read that if something like this ever happened, a driver should cause a minor accident to force another car and a “normal” driver into the situation – and also bring the police.

But snatching glances at the cars around me, I knew if I caused a crash, it would be fatal. We were going too fast. My heart was in my throat, and I began to think about Nate. Oh how I wished he was with me! What sensible thing would he suggest?

Dark despair flooded me. “Oh God!” I shouted. “Please, please help me! I don’t know what to do!”

We continued on, and as we came within 10 miles of home, very suddenly these men pulled to the far right and zoomed off an exit ramp — and they were gone! I felt like wailing with relief but knew I had to hold myself together to get safely home.

As I got off the highway several miles later, I came to the first stop sign of my journey and went to downshift. That’s when I realized I’d driven 40 miles at high speed with the car in 2nd gear the whole way. No wonder it had resisted my push on the gas pedal and sounded so loud! Oh, how I hoped I hadn’t ruined the engine.

I pulled in front of our building and raced up the steps two at a time, bursting through the door and throwing myself into Nate’s arms – and the anguished wailing came out.

He held me tightly, waiting for me to calm down enough to tell him – and after I did, I stayed wrapped in that place of safety for a long, long time.

photo strip“They attacked me at a moment when I was in distress, but the Lord supported me. He led me to a place of safety.” (Psalm 18:18-19)


Newlywed Love (#101)

September 21-26, 1970

Each week seemed to be busier than the one before, and Thursday of this week would include the 3 hour drive to Chicago and back for Mary’s surprise baby shower. She was due in two weeks, and there was no way I was missing this fun evening. Besides, my knitted sweater and hat were ready, and I couldn’t wait to give them to her.

Nate didn’t think it was wise to drive a 300 mile round trip for a couple of hours at a party, but I just had to go. My had principal refused to give me a day off, either that day or the next, so I planned to teach and then leave straight from school.

Asleep behind the wheelThat part didn’t bother Nate, but thinking of me driving home late after a long, tiring day seemed to him like a recipe for falling asleep behind the wheel. “It’s risky,” he said.

But he knew how much I wanted to go, so the only solution was for him to go too – which he willingly offered. I tried to tell him I’d be fine, but with 4 driving accidents on my record, he didn’t like the odds.

Once I knew he’d be joining me, the plan became twice as fun. We agreed I would drive on the way while he studied; he would study during the event and then drive home.

M and MThe shower took place at a glamorous Chicago apartment in a glass-walled high-rise with a beautiful view of Lake Michigan. Mary was genuinely surprised when she walked in, and we loved showering her with gifts and good wishes.

The devotional, given by a friend named Judy, described mother- hood as a privilege and children as gifts. As I listened, I day-dreamed of becoming a mother… but knew it would have to wait for some distant day.

The dinner-shower went longer than we anticipated, and when Nate and I finally pulled into our Champaign neighborhood, it was nearly 3:00 AM. In my journal I wrote, Both of us were grogged.

Just a few hours after we’d fallen into bed, I was up and off to Danville for an all-day education workshop, hard to take on 3½ hours of sleep. I dozed through much of it and was bleary when I finally got back in the car to drive the 40 miles home.

On rampAs I drove up the ramp to get on I-74, a car behind me was tailgating so close I couldn’t believe it hadn’t bumped me. Noticing two young men who loomed large in my rear view mirror, I figured they must just be in a terrible hurry.

Once we blended into traffic, I expected them to go around me, but they didn’t. They stayed tight to my rear bumper no matter which lane I changed into or what speed I drove.

On top of that, my car began making a strange noise, seeming to resist my foot on the gas pedal, and I got scared. If I had to pull over, I knew those guys would pull over right behind me.

(Conclusion tomorrow)

“He will order his angels to protect you wherever you go.” (Psalm 91:11)