Monday, January 18, 2010


This is our 50th year together.  We have already started making a history of those years.  You might think it would be easy but that is a long time.  Sometimes, I forget what I went downstairs for so remembering even big events 20, 30 or 40 years ago is tricky and spotty.

I do know some of the steps that got us started.  I wanted to work with people and my mother, who loved teaching, suggested I look into going to a teachers' college.  I found it was inexpensive and handy so that was where I went.  I didn't take the time to think or find out that few young men wanted to be teachers, probably for financial reasons.  Teaching is famous for its limited pay, especially after a decade or so, compared to other possibilities.  Not finding thinking about typical male-female choices meant I had no idea that the college would be 80% female.  Since my high school was 100% male, it was a pleasant surprise to find so many young women around me.  I dated some of the more interesting ones.

In my junior year, I started dating Lynn.  I student taught during that year and it was not an easy time for me.  I was too rigid and self-preoccupied to be as open and flexible as teachers need to be.  Lynn listened to my complaints and fears and rages. I saw that I didn't want to be away from her.  Then, I found a summer job at a professor's summer camp in Maine.  She had her job at the plant in Florida where she had worked the previous year.  So, there came a day when I stood at the stairs leading into a railroad car and watched her board.  I felt very severe pain seeing her go.  I had just gotten my driver's license and the long drive of a camp vehicle to Maine was a challenge.  That drive and relocating temporarily got my mind off my longing and pain.

But, as the days went by, I felt her absence grow heavier and heavier.  I tried to phoning her to bridge the distance between us, sometimes more than once a day.  I tried writing daily.  In those days, we had not heard the words "computer" or "email" and for youngsters without money or means, that was about all we could do.  One day, a group of the camp staff were working in a stand of trees somewhere and the day's mail was brought out to us.  I received a letter from Lynn.  I opened it and read words that changed our lives.  I have the letter written that day hanging in a frame beside me now as I write.  She said she had died and was in Hell.  She was tortured by everything around her.  I felt the same way and had for weeks.  That did it.  I quit on the spot, took what pay I had coming, begged a ride to the local bus station from the irritated and now short-handed professor.  I could afford a ticket and rode the bus to Florida.  I told no one at home or at her house what I was doing.  It took a long time for such a bus ride and I had plenty of time to wonder what I was doing.  I got to Florida and went to an employment agency.  I got a job as a kitchen supply boy in a large public restaurant.  My job was to dole out the supplies needed for a recipe to the cooks as they prepared various dishes.  Poor pay and lots of cleaning but I did have a job.  I phoned Lynn and told her where I was and what I had done. 

She was delighted and her parents kindly invited me to stay with them.  It was a great relief to be together.  But the summer was nearly over by then.  A more rational person would have waited and reunited with his sweetheart at college.  I was happy but not rational.  I had to borrow money from Lynn to get back to my house, one of several facts that did not recommend me to her parents as a future son-in-law.  We were married a few weeks later and that was the beginning of our 50 years.

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