So, not unlike a number of other over-30’s (and over 40’s!) I know, I have never been married and I am not a parent. Not by choice of course – being a wildly old-fashioned girl trapped in the body of a modern day glamazon does have its drawbacks, not the least of which is the apparently widely held perception that neither marriage nor children are of any interest to me. That would be wrong. Both are of great interest to me.
For whatever reason, I have not been found by God’s man for me – yet. ‘Yet’ being the operative word. My lack of cynicism at this age surprises me to be honest, but in a good way. Personally, I hold God fully responsible for the hope that is in me, this hope that flies in the face of all past experience and empirical evidence to the contrary.
I am grateful for the many inspiring examples set by people in my life, both near and far, who trusted God and waited for His best. And instead of walking away when it all got too hard, they chose to stay and work it out, even when everything in them wanted to Exit Stage Left. I’ve heard many beautiful stories over the years, of love conquering all, so to speak. But perhaps the love story that has made the biggest impression on me, of course, is that of my own parents.
There is so much I could say about my parents. Suffice it to say, they are a large part of the reason why I still believe that marriage is worth the effort, regardless of what I see happening around me in our culture. My parents (also affectionately referred to by me as ‘The Darlings’) have been married for almost 42 years. And I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly. All of it. So I know they haven’t floated up into Marriage Heaven on fluffy pink clouds of heady romance and heart-shaped chocolates. I know, it’s been really hard work. Really, really hard work. But so worth it.
So, in typical writer-girl fashion, I take what makes an impression on me, and I write about it. Like what I think marriage and parenthood would be like after 40 years, from the outside looking in at least.
Below is a short story I wrote, not exactly about my parents, but about a 60-something couple who in some respects, fit the profile of my parents. Some details have been changed, added, removed, over-stated or under-stated for artistic license and/or (subtly) dramatic effect. I love those terms. Artistic license. Dramatic effect. A creative’s toolkit in 4 words!
Anyway, I don’t write these things for money, I write them for love. So I figure, there’s no downside to me ‘publishing’ the story below. Just in case though, I put a copyright on it. Clearly, all those years of managing commercial risk in corporate have made their mark on me 🙂
I will probably post some other short stories at some stage…but this is the first I am posting…so it is a bit of a big scary deal! There’s that saying that we should do something that scares us every day. I don’t do that every day, but by posting this, I am doing that today.
The girl is putting herself right out there now! Enjoy. I hope 🙂
“Would you like some juice, Mr Holden?”
The Singapore Airlines girl smiled at him, holding a glass of freshly-squeezed orange juice for him to enjoy before take-off from Singapore to Auckland.
“Yes, thank you”.
He was just a simple working-class man who loved God and had worked hard with his beloved wife to raise their four children. And there he and his wife were, sitting in business class, being treated like royalty. It took some getting used to for a small-town Maori boy from Te Kaha. They were on the last leg home from a European holiday that their children had gifted them for their 40th wedding anniversary. Business class and 5-star treatment all the way. They’d never been to Europe before. It was an awesome adventure. They’d loved every minute of it.
He shook his head in wonder at the goodness of God. Amazing. All of it was amazing.
“Mrs Holden, may I offer you some juice?”
He watched his lovely wife smile sweetly at the young lady, accept the juice and take a dainty sip. He loved watching his wife. After 40 years together, he still thought she was the most beautiful, gracious woman in the world. His heart skipped a beat as she smiled nervously at him, reached across and put her shaky hand in his. She put on a brave face for the world, but he knew that take-off always made her jittery. He squeezed her hand reassuringly. He would do anything to protect her. He would die for her. This woman was his best friend. This woman was the love of his life.
He had put her through so much over the years. She had lived out the meaning of the wedding vow, ‘for better or for worse’. He had put her through the worst. He knew that. His eyes watered at the thought of how she had suffered for his selfishness early in their marriage. Yet this strong, soft, fearless God-loving woman had continued to love him unconditionally. But she still stood up to him when she needed to. She had refused to let him destroy himself or their family.
As the Singapore Airlines girl gently cleared their glasses and the plane taxied on the runway, he thought about how his wife had brought him to God. She had told him that it was God’s love for her that had given her the strength to keep loving him, even when he had been unbearable. Her love, or God’s love in her, had brought him to his knees before God 20 years before. And their marriage had grown from strength to strength since then. He was grateful to God for this woman. She had saved him in a way.
She was truly God’s love gift to him.
He remembered the saying that behind every great man was a great woman. He knew that he probably wasn’t seen as a great man in the eyes of the world, but he also knew that this amazing woman had made him so much more than he otherwise would have been without her.
The plane began to pick up speed, preparing to take-off.
“John?” The gentle lilt of his wife’s voice brought him back from his thoughts.
“Please keep hold of my hand when the plane takes off.”
“Darling, I’ll keep hold of your hand for as long as you want me to. I won’t let go of you.”
The Singapore Airlines girl watched them from her take-off seat with a mixture of fascination and admiration. They weren’t your usual jaded business traveler. She watched this sweet, unassuming 60-something couple, holding hands and whispering tender words to one another as the plane lifted off. She could see they had something very special together. Something real. She wanted to know their story. She was glad that she was looking after them today.
And she hoped that one day, somehow, she would find a love like that.
© Gloria Emmalene 2012