I’m going to indulge my whim today in a little reminiscence. Forty Eight years ago my sweet Peggy wed me and life has never been the same. I really can’t imagine what a jerk I would have ended up being had it not been for her influence. I was a smart guy who knew he was smart and was in too much of a serious hurry. It took a good woman to slow me down, to make me think instead of relying on my intelligence, and to humanize me.
In exchange, I’m not always sure what she got. She seems happy with the bargain; I know she is. But I haven’t always made her life easy even though she has never failed to support me in all my harebrained ideas — including buying a home in S. Texas.
In 1968 we were part of a large church in the Chicago metro area. We could easily have had a wedding with 300-400 guests — we had that many friends, and I don’t mean acquaintances. But we didn’t. We had a small wedding — with all of about 34 people present — in a friend’s home. We didn’t even invite all of our respective families — not even the close ones.
Our first apartment, I’ve posted photos here before, was scarcely larger than our RV — what was called the bedroom was so small that a Regular full bed was larger than the room. We put our bed in what was intended as a living room. We had a sofa and a record player on top of which we put a 13” TV in what we called our living room (actually another small bedroom also narrower than a regular bed) …. On that TV we watched man’s first steps on the moon. It was a radically different time. And we loved every minute of it.
That first year I was working at Chicago Wesley Memorial Hospital, starting my two years of alternate service as ordered by my draft board. I made…. all of $1.98 / hour… and when we went looking for apartments in Chicago we searched for the cheapest apartment we could find. We settled on a place we called Berta Kempins (the name of our landlord) and we paid $65.00 a month without utilities. It was a dump. But we were in love and we entertained friends and overnight guests in that place and life could not have been better if I had been making a fortune for our happiness and our peace was not in things, it was found in people and ideas.
We hardly had two nickels to rub together but I insisted on having custom wedding bands made. I found a jeweler on Archer Street in Chicago who knew a tool and die maker who would engrave two rings with a circular emblem sized individually so that 7 emblems fit exactly around the band. The gold rings cost all of $730 including the engraving; but the engraver got sick while working on the project and we nearly didn’t have them in time for the wedding. When we picked them up the night before the wedding the jeweler told us never to bring such a difficult challenge to his store; his engraver was mad at him — but he did a wonderful job. Yup — a wonderful job — but now 48 years later you can hardly tell that there had been engraving around the circumference of the rings.
I suppose that’s a commentary on who we are today. I don’t know if we would recognize ourselves if we were young looking into the future at our current selves. The absolute basics of who we are has not changed: our faith, our commitment to family and friends, our care for each other. Everything else has changed dramatically. The people in our life are almost completely different. For many reasons, not all of which we are happy about, but none of which we would ever change. We have always been pilgrims in a strange world; citizens of a heavenly country and aliens in this land of our pilgrimage. When Peggy borrowed the words of the Biblical Ruth in her wedding vows I doubt she ever suspected what she was really saying, for wither I went, she has gone, where I have lodged she has lodged, my people have become her people and my God her God.
We aren’t big celebration people. We aren’t going to DO anything hugely commemorative today. We’re going to live and love today as we do each day. And pray that we both have another day tomorrow to do the same. It’s hard to comprehend being with the same person for 48 years. When we married she was 21, I was 19, and “wet-behind-the ears” didn’t begin to describe us. And yet, here we are, as happy today as we were on that cold December Saturday afternoon in Niles Illinois. That year a storm was blowing in from the west; as I write this a storm is blowing in from the North. The only thing that seems to have changed is the direction of the wind.
Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll be here again tomorrow. Why not stop by and see what’s up.