For many years we were the true “modern” family of four generations living under one roof. There are lots of joys but also some strains to be dealt with. Children are loud, older people are nervous, but when everyone gathers around the table, there is nothing like seeing the different faces, as the prayer is offered, all heads bowed, it is priceless… a memory to be stored and brought out when one of the faces is missing. I want to talk about the final New Year we saw as a whole family. My parents were thinking about their anniversary, December 31, at the stroke of midnight and the romance of their story being told, again, is still more interesting than any story you will ever hear, read, or see in a movie, would you like to hear it?
Myrtle, the daughter of a preacher, saw the picture of a young evangelist as it fell from her dad’s Bible and she knew the moment she saw the picture that she had seen the face of her husband. Problem: this “husband” lived three thousand miles away from the little town in Tennessee where she was, in Los Angeles, California! A few weeks later she saw him walking down the sidewalk toward an auditorium where he was attending a Bishop’s Council meeting. As he walked along she nudged a girl friend and told her “That’s the man I’m going to marry!” After her friend dismissed her as “crazy”, they walked on into the church service. When the service started the man in charge announced that a man who was the youngest Bishop in that organization, was going to come and sing for them. He came running out onto that stage, guitar in hand and began to sing a song that was fitting in the time of the second world war, “I’m On the Battle Field for My Lord“. The audience was standing and clapping their hands and enjoying it fully! Her eighteen-year old heart was pounding out of her chest as she felt she had a confirmation that he really was “the one”. When a mutual friend saw her walk into an area behind the stage after the service looking for her dad, she asked the handsome, young evangelist if he had met Myrtle, he said “No, but I would like to“! That night they went to dinner at a Chinese restaurant, and she was embarrassed when she realized she was drinking his tea, which was close to her because she didn’t realize he was left handed. The next afternoon they took a walk around the park and sat down on one of the benches to rest. While Harry was eating peanuts from a small brown paper bag and sharing them with the squirrels, three hours into their romance, he turned to her and said, “I have something I want to ask you”. She said she knew exactly what was coming and she had her answer ready… it was “Yes!” The wedding date was planned for the next year at the same time, he asked permission from her dad and they both went back to their respective homes. After a few weeks of communicating by phone, which was difficult with the three-hour time difference, and by letter, the decision was made to marry on New Year’s Eve in a church wedding at the stroke of midnight! As the snow was coming in flurries and the bells rang in 1943 they took vows that lasted for 70 years. Watching them together on a daily basis I saw the love and respect they still had for each other. That was the last time they rang in the New Year 2013. We don’t know what the future and the New Year holds, but we know Who holds the future. Happy New Year 2018