The all-important opening chapter of a romance sets the mood and the tone for the rest of the novel. Real life is the same, I think. I recently asked Sam what he was thinking when we first met...
After 27 years, a woman wonders. Was he smitten by my looks? Did his heart respond to my secret yearning and praying? What was it that drew us together? And as we are well into our "novel" by now, what is the prevailing tone? The romance, the comedy, the mystery?
Most of the time, we revel in the "here and now." It's marvelous to have the children happily raised and enjoy some great couple times once again. We gloat and congratulate each other on our foresight in having the children so young, leaving us this precious time together.
Although we've assured each other many times of the magnetic attraction of our first times together, he recently clarified. "When I first saw you, you just looked like someone I could build a life with. Someone who would make a great mom. I was right. You are. I couldn't be happier." It's a good thing he didn't tell me that back then. Now, I'm flattered that he though "mom ingredients" so crucial. At the age of 19, it would have killed all amorous tendencies immediately!
My recollection was that I walked into the church basement to find him chasing our summer missionary around, trying to hit her with a pillow. I felt I had interrupted their flirtation. Sam was at our church leading a revival, but like any young college man, he also exploited the opportunity to survey the feminine landscape. At a fellowship barbeque, he struck up a conversation with me. Before I knew it, he asked me to meet him for tennis.
Unaccountably, he began to pursue me with letters and phone calls. Flirting, I thought. Very exciting. He told me he would show me Galveston one day, and Houston. Since I lived in Pennsylvania, it seemed an extravagant promise.
When I told our summer missionary, who was vastly more experienced with young men, she got a sour look on her face. "Oh. I guess he decided I was unavailable, and decided to pursue you." That certainly put a dismal spin on it. I later hauled that conversation out for Sam's interpretation.
His response? "I was flirting with her. I'm interested in you, and only you for my future."
In many ways, the whole of our marriage has been a series of hilarity, like an old Doris Day movie. Misunderstandings cleared up with a shouting match and then laughter. For instance, during our first week of acquaintance, I showed up in my delicatessan uniform. He mistook me for a nursing student. He delights in saying, "I thought your could cure all my ills, when really, you were a bologna-slinger." Tenderness and thrills, jokes and occasions fill our memories.. We have finally reached this pinnacle where we are the longest-married among many of our peers, and the happiest.
I am still humbled by it. Grateful to God. Amazed. All this, without benefit of seminars and counselors. We've had some harrowing times, moments of despair and even temptation. But we never leapt into the precipice. We had too much invested.
I love reading romances, but the ones I enjoy most contain a great deal of humor and love and forgiveness, in spite of the agony inevitable in every life. I suspect those are the qualities that will bind us together in the future.