For young people in love
Coming home from another stressful trip to the grocery store, the music on the radio turned to love and nostalgia. It made my heart feel weepy and my thoughts turn to other days of stress and turmoil long past when young people were in love. Just as there were in those days, there are today so many young couples who would like to get married, and so many long planned weddings that were to take place this summer, but big weddings have all been put on hold. Maybe romantic movies have changed our expectations of what a wedding should be, but I would like to tell you a different story. It ain’t about the weddings, my darlin’s.
To Ken and Marie
My parents were young and in love in the early 1940’s. Dad joined the army before Pearl Harbor. He had aspirations to be a pilot, but a small problem with color blindness kept him from it. In the early spring of 1942, he proposed to my mother, his Marie, by long distance phone call one day when she got home from work. He had sent the ring to Mom’s mother, but Mom had already intercepted the package and knew what he was going to say and what her answer would be. There was no time for long engagements then. Pearl Harbor had come and gone and there were plans for Dad’s unit to be shipped overseas. A quick and simple wedding was all that could be arranged. To marry her sweetheart, her Ken, Mom bought a new blue suit and traveled to North Carolina by train with her mother and best friend.
The day of the wedding was a day of torrential downpours and it also just happened to be the first day of gas rationing. Dad had forgotten to fill up and they ran out of gas on the way to the church. Someone helped them out, but the new blue suit got wet. At the church, they had to hop over a puddle in the middle of the center aisle. They each had one attendant. Mom’s maid of honor was her best friend, her brother’s wife. Dad’s best man was a friend from the army. My grandmother and the priest were the only others there. They got married, spent a couple of days together and then Mom had to go back to Michigan with her mother. Not long after that, Dad got orders to ship out to England. So Mom went back to North Carolina to see him before he left. So many of the guys had their wives visiting them that there was no place to stay. Most of the young couples, my parents included, spent the night in the woods near the base. The second night, someone Dad knew arranged for a room for them. Then he was off to England, and Mom went back home to spend the war years with her parents and her sister-in-law. My parents did not see each other again for two years.
While working and crying on each other’s shoulders, Mom and her best friend, my aunt Mary Ann, waited anxiously for the letters to come and for any good news about the war. Dad was not in immediate danger because he had done shorthand and typing during his high school years and so he spent the war as a secretary, traveling first to England, and then eventually to the Rock of Gibraltar and Italy. His unit helped to plan the invasion of North Africa and then he was with the British in Italy.
Returning from the war in 1944, they finally had a honeymoon in New York City. Life after the war was also difficult, but they began their family, bought a house on the GI Bill, and made a life for themselves. Their marriage lasted for 75 years until Mom passed away two years ago at the age of 96. Dad is now 99 and misses his “Marie” every single day. In their elder years, they always held hands as you see in the picture above. Their marriage survived economic hardships, the crazy sixties and seventies, sons in the army in Vietnam and Thailand, illnesses, caring for elderly parents, marriages, grandchildren and so much more.
So, you see, love is more than a wedding. Love is a lifetime commitment to uphold each other, encourage each other, see the best in each other, help with the worst in each other and maintain an everlasting faith in the God who brought you two together and who will get you through the worst and the best that life has to offer no matter which way the road leads you. And in the end of it all, you will look back and be astounded at all the way that the Lord has led you. A wedding without love is just a party and a big waste of money, but love, even without a big wedding, will stand the test of time and keep you feeling young at heart all of your life. Yes, you will cry and yes, you will laugh, but most of all, your love will continually grow.
Don’t be afraid to marry your sweetheart even in troubling times.