I GOT MY BEST PRESENT ON FRIDAY THE 13TH
Of March, 1959. That's the day I married my sweetheart.
I'd known I'd eventually marry her since day one. No ... make that minute one. I'd gone to work for a now-defunct insurance company, as the mailboy's helper, April 4, 1958. For the first week, I helped move stuff to a new building they'd just built. Then, the following Monday, April 11, 1958, I was escorted around the office to meet everyone from whom I'd pick up, and to whom I'd deliver, mail. About 9:15, the mailboy (whom I knew from High School), introduced me to Peggy Hiland.
We turned and walked to a stairwell about 15' away to go to the 3rd floor, and I said to Bill "I'm going to marry that girl." I think I asked him to tell me her name, again.
That evening, I said at the dinner table "Guess who I met today". Mom asked who, and I said "My wife". Inquisitive looks and remarks followed, and I explained. If I live to 100, I'll never forget their expressions. I think they were as surprised as I was that I'd met someone I thought would ever marry me.
The next day she came downstairs to get some stuff copied (this was long before modern copiers .. getting a copy was about like doing laundry on a washboard), and I asked her if she brought lunch. She said yes, and I said I did too, and invited her to go to the TeePee drive-in for a coke over lunch. She accepted.
There was never a doubt that she was the one for me, from minute #1 on. And we'll have been married 48 years if we're still here next March 13th.
The picture is Peg's, taken immediately after the wedding. One of those group photos with the wedding party all smiling. She's not that young any more; she's almost as old as I. But, when I look at her, the young lady in the picture is who I see. Only better.
Let me tell you a bit about my sweetheart:
She was a stay-at-home mom until the kids were both well into school and could ride the bus with other kids, etc. And she loved it. To this day, our sons reflect what sort of job Peg did in raising them. She did come from good stock ... Peg's mom lost her husband a few months before Peg was born, and she raised them working 2 jobs to support 3 kids and her own Dad, who was disabled.
There is a picture that is permanently etched into my mind, one that causes me to be unable to speak when I think of it. It's Peg, standing at the end of the road into our subdivision, waiting for me to come home, on the bus from work. With her is Brian, standing beside her and holding her hand, and Brad, in a stroller.
I wish I'd appreciated the beauty of that sight, back then.
She has, for as long as I;ve known her, had the most uncanny abilities with little kids, of anyone I have ever seen. She taught pre-school at church for 20+ years, and still gets that look on her face when one of the kids she taught is saved or baptized.
For umpteen years, I have seen her interact with little children on airplanes, in airports, at churches, in stores, restaurants, you name it. It is breathtaking to watch. More about that, in a minute.
She is totally devoted to me. Not that she won't tell me what she thinks, which I respect, but she's a wonderful example of that gal in Proverbs 31. She really is.
She also has a burden to teach younger women. That passage in the bible gnaws at her when she's not doing anything that way, and she's now active in a bible study for young ladies in church. So .. not only is her husband addicted to her, but there's now this gaggle of young ladies at church..
She's a hard worker and generous. Particularly to our family. She cooks dinner so it'll be ready at noon every Sunday, and our sons & their families, when they're able, come over for dinner. Every Sunday. With things like that, she's primarily responsible for the strong sense of "home" and of "family" that seems to be present in ours.
She's always been very supportive of me. She's consistently my biggest fan. I cannot tell you what that means to me, and when she differs with me, I think harder about what she says, than about what anyone else on earth has said.
She is largely responsible for the fact that I'm a Christian, today. We'd played Pinochle with neighbors Bill and Louella one Sunday afternoon, and Bill remarked I ought to go to Sunday School with them next Sunday; they had an interesting teacher. I'll agree to most anything a week in advance, so I said "sure". The following Sunday I was reading the newspaper and Peg said it was time to get ready. I asked for what, and she reminded me of my commitment the week before. I said I'd really rather stay home and she said one sentence that God used to change my life:
"If they were nice enough to ask, we should be nice enough to go."
Well, I don't know how nice I was, but we went. Surprisingly, to me, I enjoyed it; we went back the next week, and then joined the week after.
The rest, as they say, is history.
She's my treasure. The Bible tells us we're to treasure our wives as Jesus treasures His church. He doesn't do that because we're treasures ... we're treasures because He treasures us.
Listen up, husbands ... you owe the same to your wife, because Jesus is worthy of that.
There's a lot of other stuff I could write, but I'll end this by saying I love her. A lot. More than I could describe, and more every day. I also must confess that it's Jesus who's giving me that love, because my heart's desire is to love my wife as no man in history ever loved his wife. I don't have that in me, but Jesus does.
If you want to know her heart, look at this picture. It's her, interacting with a baby on an airplane. The baby was staring at her over the seatback and Peg started communicating with her in a way that only folks with that gift know. The mom handed the baby to Peg, and I snapped the picture.
That's my sweetheart, for you.
Merry Christmas, Peg.
ps: Don't go getting all speer-chul and tell me that salvation was the greatest gift. Of course I know that. But try telling your wife she's the best present you ever got. I think you'll be glad you did.