I’ll never understand how getting married can feel so long ago, and yet so recent all in one moment. 51 years ago hardly seems a moment ago and yet it’s been a lifetime — more than a lifetime for some of my contemporaries. Parts are missing from my memory now, seems hard to believe. Other details are as bright as the morning sun.
Just like this year, I caught a cold in December. A few days before catching cold I had been to the Jeweler and contracted a custom engraved set of wedding rings. The jeweler had a tool and die maker who did engraving on the side. He agreed to engrave a series of 7 symbols around the circumference of the ring and have it done in 2 weeks. Of course the ‘job’ wasn’t as easy as it was to describe. Our rings were the same width, but the diameter was different (duh!) so evenly spacing the work around different sized rings was a lot harder than he thought and as time got closer and closer to the wedding the rings still weren’t ready.
In the end, they magically appeared 2 days before the ceremony and I almost crawled over to the jewelers to pick them up. Hard to believe that in 1968 I would by a custom engraving job including the cost of the rings for $133.25! But there you have it. Proof. Of course I would soon be starting a job at Wesley Memorial Hospital as a C.O. making all of $1.97 per hour! A different world it was back then!
We were SO young then. Young and dumb. Yet idealistic. And happy.
The idealistic and happy part, continue to this day. The young, not so much. And the dumb, well, I hope not — I think we’ve learned and understood a thing or two along the way.
It wasn’t but a couple years after this that Peg’s mom, Margaret, passed away. She had cancer of the spine and she suffered terribly. But Peg was great with her, she spent a fair bit of time with her mom near the end, staying in Toledo while mom was approaching the end, and me in Chicago. Rough times, back in the day when medical science refused to treat pain as we do now. “Oh, she can’t have more morphine” they said of a dying patient, “she might become addicted.” I didn’t understand the logic back then, and I still don’t know how anyone could be that cruel, but Margaret went through a lot and I still think of her often even though I hardly got to know here in those couple short years.
Back when I was in ministry and marrying other couples I was always amazed at the (to me) strange peace that couples in love made between themselves. There were couples who I thought wouldn’t last a weekend together because they argued so much who were absolutely gaga about each other. Other couples seemed so laid back that you scarcely knew whether they were even acquainted — and yet somewhere there arose a passion impelling them to spend their lives together. To this day I’m not aware of any of the couples I officiated for who have divorced. There may be those, but I didn’t make it easy to get through my pre-marriage counselling. And along the way I learned a lot about other people’s passions.
I wouldn’t even begin to describe what it is about the bond between Peg & I. We know that we’re a bit odd. After all, I proposed before we ever went on our first date. And I proposed to her by mail, being so round-about-the-bush that she had to ask her best friend what I was saying. And she answered back in just-as-around-about-the-bush language. But we found each other and we were married in 3 short months. And still are today. Since retirement we scarcely do anything apart, and I for one never tire of being with her. How could I not be content living with my best friend and being married to her too! It took a lot of adjustment along the way. We had to value our marriage more than a lot of other things and that effort paid off. I only wish others could find the same thing we did — and then I remember all those other couples, and how different they were from us, and I realize that you can’t copy a relationship. It simply doesn’t work.
So, on the day, 51 years after a wedding ceremony on a cold winter’s day, and a drive of a hundred miles in a snow storm to get to our wedding night Holiday Inn in South Bend Indiana, I look back with a bit of amusement, a lot of fondness, and a wondering mind about what the coming year might have in store for these two travelers together.