When I got married, a lovely friend of my mother-in-law-to-be hosted a very special bridal shower for me. In and amongst the piles of kitchenware, linens, and splendid refreshments, she devoted a few moments to remind me of the love that had brought me to this place . . . this time . . . this anticipatory portal in life. She pulled out several anniversary cards her beloved husband had given to her over the years. Despite the passing of years he never failed to fan the flame of pure, sweet love that captured the heart of his girl.
As the hostess read the melodious Hallmark poems set into brushstrokes of serene settings, my mother-in-law-to-be leaned over and chuckled to me, “You won’t be saving anniversary cards from Gary. He’s not like that – not sentimental at all. He’s just like his father.” This little divulgence caught me off guard, because up to this point in our relationship Gary had showered me with cards, letters, and little love notes that she obviously knew nothing about. (Why should she?)
She settled back onto her sofa spot, smiling with joy that soon I would marry a man as wonderful as she had (her son, of course) and would live much as she had . . . with plenty of love but no written record to pull out for show.
I never forgot her well-meant warning; but I filed it away, hoping for something different than she had experienced. Knowing full well (or at least supposing) that once the vows had been sealed with a kiss the “courting” dance mellows to something more mundane, I nonetheless remained romantically expectant as I entered marriage.
Having danced more than 26 years with my same beloved, I can giggle and sigh sweetly, knowing that my mother-in-law meant well, but has been proven wrong about the tangible record of love notes. I have a “collection” of letters, cards, and hastily scrawled notes that I can hold, read, and remember if I so choose. More importantly, my children can open this treasure trove and know their parents as they blossomed from “shy kids” to devoted souls. The tapestry of our life includes pen and ink threads most revealing of a love designed and woven with our hearts and hands – in good times and in bad, though sickness and health, day in, day out.
However, some of the BIG showy Hallmark cards of our first year dating will not be among the be-ribboned packets hidden away among the dedication booties and lace wedding slippers. About a year into our “relationship” (I couldn’t think of a word to fittingly name those early days before you know you have found love) we parted angrily and painfully – it just wasn’t working out like we had expected, so we parted to find the “IT” we lacked. Whereas I cried buckets and stored away all the mementos in a designated cardboard box hidden in my closet, he grabbed up all the cards and “stuff” and dumped it in the trash. Done! HRMPH!
Fast forward a summer’s worth of graduation and travel and new horizons, to where you reach the late-summer reunion between two hearts that couldn’t heal apart. Though she packed her car to travel hundreds of miles away to chase an educational dream, he pledged love – and promised to wait. Miles apart they journeyed together toward “something” that they hadn’t found yet, but just knew had to be there waiting to be uncovered along the way. And it was to be found: True love.
The road from there to here hasn’t been smooth or easy or even “romantic” every day, but it has been constant and real and true. I have a heart and a memory and boxes filled with all sorts of reminders. Just this last Tuesday as Gary rose before dawn to catch an early flight to LA for his “day away,” he jotted a note and laid it on the bed beside me, as he often does. Knowing my penchant for work rather than play, he sweetly penned:
At his prompting, I cast aside thoughts of dishes and laundry, choosing to spend my day
working playing in the garden. I had no fear that a sitcom-husband would arrive home at day’s end asking, “What have you done all day? Where’s my dinner?!” I knew my husband would return home weary from a looooong day’s work, but enter smiling as he walked past the newly pruned roses and tilled beds.
“She had fun,” he would smile, sporting a mirror image of the smile she wore earlier as she dug away saying to herself, “He loves me.”
Some day, when I am long gone past the Pearly Gates I hope a great-great-great-grandchild will happen upon these tidbits and tassels that I have secreted away and learn more than a mere photo or a marriage certificate can tell of these two entwined lives.
I hope they will sift through the dried flowers and broken necklaces, and bundles of letters to find the real treaure:
and on and on the list goes.
They did it all . . .
. . . over and over and over again . . .
. . . day after day . . . .
And it was good.
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Male and female created he them.
And God blessed them . . .
it was very good.
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