Fifty years ago tomorrow (March 23, 1968) there was an unseasonably sudden ice storm in Mansfield, Ohio. Then it snowed, which made for a treacherous beauty if you were on the highway. A good time to stay home and off the roads. However, I had to get to the church. I was getting married. It was a memorable wedding, indeed, where many relatives came from out of town but were stuck at hotels and not able to get to the wedding at all. Time for the ceremony to begin and the pastor, who lived next door to the church and I, who lived only a couple miles away, were the only people there. Dan was slipping down a small, icy grade of ice and snow saying a silent prayer that if no one but the pastor and he and I arrived we were going to get married.
That stormy beginning to our half a century together could have been a red flag. Or the fact that I, a product of no faith, no father, no stable home-life, and embracing the sixties mini-skirts, bold make-up and hairdos was marrying a guy who was raised Conservative Mennonite in a home so vastly different than I ever dreamed of……Or perhaps our complete opposite personality styles should have stopped us. There were so many red flags. Our parents certainly weren’t happy about it. Any premarital counsel would have advised us to abort the idea, for sure.
But Dan and I were so naive, so young, so in love. Neither of us had a plan. Or money….NONE! Neither of us had seen marriages we wanted to emulate. We didn’t know what we were doing but we learned together. We were determined to make it work. And, no, it certainly hasn’t always been rosy. We have stories to tell. But we had one solid theme…..Just Be Love. It’s Biblical. It’s just common sense. It takes effort and it works.
Those three words, Just Be Love, is our middle child’s mantra that seems to be the thread that runs through our family. Back years ago all the Christians wore armbands printed with WWJD. What would Jesus do? It’s simple. Jesus would have just been love. In every situation and with every individual no matter what their race, creed, occupation or status.
Yesterday Dan sent a link to our family that made all of us tear up or sob. It so embraces our family ethos and what we want for the world we inhabit. 3,000 Jews and Muslims singing in harmony, One Day.
All my life I´ve been waiting for
I´ve been praying for
For the people to say
That we don´t wanna fight no more
They´ll be no more wars
And our children will play
One day (one day), One day (one day)
You can’t listen to this video without being moved. And each of our family members responded that they were deeply touched and were grateful to have parents who taught them to Just Be Love. It made my heart swell with joy mixed with sadness that this ethos isn’t shared by everyone.
Our family has grown in numbers. The unlikely union of two very different people in 1968 produced three incredible children who never knew anything but love and who grew up to be adults who are changing the world. They have brought such diversity and enlightenment into our lives and we have all learned together what showing love means in spite of a world that thrives on violence, immorality, sensationalism and corrupt politics. None of our children’s homes have cable television. Never have. They choose to embrace love in ways that excludes filling their heads with all the hatred and inequality that casts a huge cloud over one’s outlook on life.
Our children have adopted into our family several children from the Zuni Indian tribe and a handsome young man from Rwanda who used to be a street kid fighting for survival. We have a daughter-in-law whom we couldn’t love more if she were from our flesh and blood who has taught us what it was like to be a mixed-race kid in a world full of bigotry and racism. Our family continues to grow because we continue to love no matter what the circumstances. Our desire is that ONE DAY there will be no question that our world is at peace because everyone will Just Be Love. Our desire is that ONE DAY a fifty-year loving marriage will not be a rarity and children will know that Love rules the world.
Happy 50th anniversary to the love of my life. You are the best thing that ever happened to me!