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Friday, February 14, 2014

A Love Story

 photo Hearts_zps69ed5ba4.gif
The song ♫Leaving on a Jet Plane♫ ran continuously through my head as I watched my beloved walk from me down the dark, barely-lit street in the middle of the night.  The memory of the physical and emotional pain I felt is still with me.  He had already taken his car to his parents' house in Illinois where it would be garaged for the duration, so he had to walk the several blocks to the boarding house where he was staying.  I was 16 and he had just turned 21.  I would be in class--a senior in high school--when he boarded the bus to Detroit the next day where he was to be drafted into the Army....
That's Ken in the first row, second from right

We'd only known each other 10 months, but we were inseparable.  During that time we saw each other practically every day.  I was in 11th grade when we met.  He had gotten a job after leaving Valparaiso (Indiana) Technical Institute and was taking some classes at night at Valparaiso University.  It was at one of the Wednesday night Student Union dances that he'd asked me out.  We'd seen each other the Saturday before at his roommate's band practice when a friend had taken me over to see the band.  Ken asked around about me and found I'd be at the University that evening.  We went on our first date that Friday, November 11, 1966, and fell in love.

One of the places we liked to go to was the Ratskellar coffee house at Piper's Alley in Chicago.  We'd sit in the darkened room, holding hands listening to Folk music....

For my 16th birthday later that month he sent me roses....

We'd write each other poems and play my Dad's guitar in my parents' basement....

We both loved the music of the 60's and saw Simon & Garfunkel close up in the University's gymnasium....

He took me to my Junior Prom that Spring.... his 1948 Pontiac....

We drove to the Indiana Dunes following the all-night After-Prom Party....

We dreamed of the time when we could be married and talked about names for our children.  I wrote all our names in my diary....

That summer I told him my parents were moving us to Kalamazoo, Michigan.  He quit his job and moved with us in August.  We planned to marry as soon as I turned 18 the end of the next year, but Uncle Sam had other plans for our life together.  Right after the move he received his draft notice.  I went with him to visit his parents in Illinois one last time.....

The following February he left for Vietnam and was gone for a year and a day.  In those days the only communication we could have was through the postal service.  We would write each other every day and occasionally sent cassette tape messages to each other....and lots of photos....
You can see his letters on my Hope Chest

Ken was an MP (Military Police) and would provide protection for convoys between camps
Then, finally, February 7, 1969 arrived--the date he came back to me.  It was a whirlwind week of last minute wedding preparations.  He'd bought his wedding suit in Singapore on his R&R, but still needed to buy shoes, get our license, and our rings.  Then he went home to see his parents for a few days.  When he came back on Thursday we went to see the movie Romeo & Juliet.  This song still stirs within me how it felt to wait and wonder if he'd ever come home to me...

Tomorrow, February 15th we'll celebrate our 45th wedding anniversary....

We've been blessed with three fine sons, and now have two lovely daughters-in-law and a granddaughter on the way.  We've had our struggles, financially and relationally, as we both had changed that year we were apart....but that's what marriage is really all about--making a commitment to love each other no matter what so that we could work through the struggles, growing closer to each other in a deeper way.  In every sense of the word, we'd saved ourselves for each other from the very beginning--before we'd even met--and have honored the vows we made before God and witnesses.  To me, that is the greater love story.

Happy Anniversary, Sweetheart!     x♥x♥x♥


  1. What a beautiful story, Cathy. And happy anniversary! Your story floods my mind with many memories of my own with the similarities. Thanks for sharing your story!

    1. Thank you, Dotsie. Good memories are always lovely to recall!

  2. What a precious story, Cathy & Ken. Happy Valentine's Day to you & congratulations as you celebrate the anniversary of your marriage covenant with each other tomorrow.

  3. This was the perfect story to start my Valentine's Day with! Happy Anniversary!

  4. Happy Anniversary to you and your sweetie! Thanks for sharing your love story--one that is similar to mine. My husband did not go to Vietnam as he worked for the government at the time for the DoD. I was a young bride like you Cathy and feel so lucky to have been married to my wonderful husband for 46 years. We were so young, but felt, and still feel that God bought us together. Enjoy your Valentine's Day with your sweetheart! ♥

    1. Thank you Martha Ellen. I love hearing stories of couples who married very young and are still together! We almost didn't meet...he almost didn't come back to Valparaiso for the Tech school, which he ended up dropping out of just before we met, and my family was to move away in 10 months.

  5. A wonderful story for Valentine's Day, Cathy. Made even better because it's true. And 45 years, wow! Bless your hearts, so young when you first met and STILL together. You must surely be soulmates. Now I've never been married so take the following with several grains of salt, but I've seen so many couples in our generation who just seem to give up on their marriages & often as soon as things get tough. I went to one college classmate's wedding and 11 months later, she and her husband had split up. Makes me wonder why people get married in the first place. The vow is "til death do us part..." not "til difficult times do us part..." They promised to stay together - through BOTH the good times and the bad. But now, people want only good times. And these days, it can be so easy to get divorced. Plus it's now socially-acceptable as well, so there doesn't seem to be any impetus to staying married. And I guess maybe that's OK if there aren't children. But when there are kids, a divorce means something all together different in my opinion. And 1000s of studies have confirmed the breakdown of the family as the cause/partial cause of a lot of today's social evils. As a teacher I can absolutely verify that children from happy homes do much better in school. Oh gee, I didn't mean to climb up on my soapbox - sorry. Anyway, happy belated Valentine's Day to you both. And PS - am I loving Ken's '48 Pontiac! I've always loved those big old boats from the 30s and 40s [I always get an "A" in Nostalgia :>)]. Beautiful machines from the Golden Age of the Automobile.

    1. Perhaps my determination to only marry someone I knew I could love forever was because I was the product of my parents' second marriages and saw the effect it had not only on my half-siblings, who did not live with us, but how it affected even me as I watched my parents both miss their children from their first marriages. I've always felt like an old soul so even at 15 I knew what I wanted in a mate. I've made sure my sons knew my parents' story since our story did not give them the advantage, if you will, that I had of seeing what happens when you don't choose wisely. So far so good. :-)

  6. Happy Anniversary to you both! Such a lovely bride and such a lovely story, Cathy. I'm sure it is and will be an encouragement to your children and grandchildren to reflect upon their heritage.

    My brother-in-law still has his 1948 Plymouth; he has used it for weddings and parades!

    1. Thank you, Elaine. Sadly, Ken's younger brother borrowed the Pontiac to practice driving not realizing it had been drained of all its fluids....

  7. Replies
    1. It was, but it brought me much closer to God, for which I am grateful.

  8. Congratulations on your anniversary! It's a lovely love story and pictures. Sarah x


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