Newlywed Love (#26)

January 29, 1970

RosesNate did something on our 2nd month anniversary that was completely unexpected. He bought me a dozen long-stemmed red roses! This was over-the-top generosity, since our finances were so lean, and I was astounded. He explained:

“I’ll never get over that I found you. I don’t deserve you, and yet here you are – married to me. All the roses in town couldn’t express my love for you.”

Nate's cardI heard his words, but as always had trouble believing I could possibly mean that much to him. My thinking was just the opposite – that I didn’t deserve him. And I certainly hadn’t done anything to merit a dozen roses or the “love forever” he pledged on the card.

But Nate’s love didn’t originate in my being worthy to receive it or performing well. It was just based on me…. self-focused, flawed me.

He was one of a kind. He listened carefully whenever I talked. He made no effort to sway my decisions or change my opinions. And he never criticized my many mistakes. Instead he spoke encouragement and heaped praise on me for even the small things, like doing the dishes.

Though I felt I didn’t deserve such devotion, it sure felt good to receive it. And it let me be me, without having to pretend about anything.

2nd anniversary card, frontAs I stood holding my gorgeous roses, I felt sheepish giving Nate my modest anniversary gift. It was a contemporary card that said, “We’ve got what it takes to have a Happy Anniversary…. each other.” (right) I had taped a picture of myself inside and written a note, thanking him for all the help he gave me around the apartment (below).

2nd anniversary cardAs I handed it to him, I apologized for such a minimal gift. He opened it, studied it, and said, “I couldn’t have wanted anything more. You’re giving me you! And in a pretty butterscotch dress.”

He took the roses from me and set them down so he could deliver some Happy Anniversary hugs and kisses. And as always, he had made everything turn out just right.

“A man’s ways are in full view of the Lord.” (Proverbs 5:21)

Newlywed Love (#25)

January 26, 1970

BlizzardAfter Dad and I purchased the black Mustang, I couldn’t wait to drive it back to Champaign to show Nate our classy new wheels. Heavy snow made the 156 miles time-intensive and nerve-racking. But there was no way to contact Nate as I traveled along, so I just kept going, one mile at a time. Knowing he was waiting for me made it all worth it.

As I pulled up in front of our apartment building, Nate must have been anxiously looking out the window, because he came running down the steps and outside to greet me. He didn’t care nearly as much about the car as he did about me, worried for my welfare in the storm. It was gratifying to watch relief wash over him as he put his arms around me.

“I was so upset,” he said, “that something might have happened to you!” Covering my face and neck with kisses he whispered, “I could never live without you.”

I still didn’t understand why he loved me so much, but at that moment I didn’t need a reason. I accepted his loving care and was sure I could never feel more cherished than I did right then.

Snowy MustangOnce we stopped hugging in the middle of the street, he stood back to admire the Mustang – and was pleased. We both climbed in, and he pulled it around to the back alley where there was space to park. “You and your dad did well,” he said.

Upstairs, we made some coffee and shared the details of our weekend apart. He had some interesting tales from his first shifts at H & R Block, and I gave him the details of how Dad and I found the car. “If anything goes wrong during the first month,” I said, “we can bring it back, and they’ll fix it.”

Coffee mug.Nate made a fire, and the two of us sat on a blanket in front of it for a long time, sipping coffee and feeling thankful to be “in touch” again. We agreed there was nothing like a separation to make us appreciate being together. I told him how glad I’d been as I struggled through the snow to know it was him waiting for me at the other end. And he told me how thankful he was that he was the one I was eager to come home to.

It was a golden moment for a newlywed couple closing in on their 2nd month anniversary. All was right with the world.

“I am content just to have you safely back again…” (2 Samuel 19:30)

Newlywed Love (#24)

January 24-25, 1970

I had to hand it to Dad. Although he was born in 1899 and was two whole generations older than his children, he made every effort to understand them.

DadDad and I had a rocky relation- ship during my dating years, mostly about curfews and my choice of suitors. (It’s a wonder he didn’t kick me out of the house.) But beneath all that friction, I loved my father deeply and knew beyond all doubt he loved me, too. If I had a problem, I went to him first. Mom was always busy packing 48 hours of activity into 24, so slowing her down long enough for a serious talk wasn’t easy.

 

Dad, however, seemed to have time. If I presented a problem and asked his opinion, he didn’t shoot from the hip but gave careful thought to his answer. Even during the years when I was his problem child, he never brought up past skirmishes or held them against me.

And Dad never made sweeping judgments or labeled me – as “an irresponsible person” or “someone unable to make good decisions,” even when those things were true. And he never once pointed out the difficulty I was causing him. No matter what happened between us, he faithfully hoped for the best about me.

When Nate and I needed a second car (and need was the operative word), he wholeheartedly volunteered to help…. not just with the shopping but with finances, too.

A loving fatherHe believed in the value of education and was proud of his new son-in-law for pursuing a law degree, despite Nate’s temporary inability to provide financially for his wife. And Dad saw that facilitating a second car would be both an encouragement and a help.

After my Friday evaluation day at McKinley School, I packed a small bag, and Nate took me to the train station. Not satisfied with just waving goodbye, he came on the train with me, making sure I was seated in a safe place and then lifting my bag to the high rack. It was hard for both of us to say goodbye, but the delicious kisses helped.

The Illinois Central took me from Champaign to Chicago, and the subway from the Loop to the city’s northern border. From there I took the “L” train to Wilmette, where Dad was waiting at the end of the line. We walked into the house around 11:00 PM and found Mom happily preparing root beer floats to go with her cheerful welcome.

While enjoying our treat, Dad and I circled several used car ads in the Yellow Pages and mapped out a route for the next day. And when my head hit the pillow, my thoughts were of convertibles and four-on-the-floor.

The following morning Dad and I set off in a blizzard with high hopes. And sure enough, after slogging through heavy slush and brushing snow off scores of cars to see them better, we chose one:

Mustang.An all-black 1965 Mustang with red leather interior! (example, right)

 

 

It was 5 years old but had low miles, and both Dad and I were pleased. I knew Nate would like its classy good looks, and my driving buddies would be happy not to have any more carpool emergencies — like when it was my turn to drive but Nate needed his car.

I couldn’t wait to show my husband! It wasn’t a convertible like my first two cars, but it definitely had some “cool.”

“Seek [the Lord’s] will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” (Proverbs 3:6)