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Love’s Golden Hour

Has it really been fifty years?  Seems like just yesterday when I was shooting rubber bands at your backside in mechanical drawing class. Where did the time go?

I first spotted you crossing the street at school and was immediately intrigued. It may have been your long dark hair, shimmering in the sunlight with the slightest hint of copper that caught my attention. Or it could have been your alluring hazel eyes that sent the willies up and down my spine when they met mine. Whatever the case, I stalked you through the halls of Thornton High School most of our sophomore year while trying to muster up the nerve to ask you out. You probably wondered what took me so long. 

We went to hear my friends band and hangout afterwards. Hoping to have made enough of an impression to warrant a second date, I laid awake most of that night thinking about you. Every so often I’d sniff the collar of my shirt in search of any lingering remnant of your perfume.  I wondered if 7:00 would be too early to call the next morning — somehow I managed to hold out until noon.

It wasn’t long before you felt comfortable sliding over next to me on the bench seat of my Berkeley Green 1954 Plymouth Belvedere.  I’d crack open the wing window to flick the ashes off my Pall Mall as we tooled around town, bobbing our heads with the beat of Chuck Buell’s evening radio broadcast on the Big 89. Wheeling into a crowded Dog N Suds with you at my side was the best feeling ever. Hey, who had it better than me!

I was allowed to call you one night a week, but because it was a toll call we could only talk for twenty minutes. Wednesday evenings would find me entangling the kitchen wall phone cord around everything in sight while trying to keep some distance between me and my family. I was infatuated with you and by the time we were seventeen I’d fallen hopelessly in love.

Lum’s in Glenwood is where we spent many a Saturday afternoon munching on onion rings and fried clams as we rattled on for what seemed like hours. It didn’t matter what we talked about, I just loved watching you laugh. When I could scrape up the cash we’d take it up a few notches and reserve a table at The Green Shingle, in Harvey. You were addicted to their Swedish meatball appetizer and would invariably order the Prime Rib for your main course.  I had a weakness for their Red Snapper.    

We married at nineteen. I think I gained twenty-five pounds nervously awaiting our wedding day. The reception was held at the now long gone Jardine’s Restaurant in Tinley Park. You were radiant. I could hardly take my eyes off of you. We sang and danced all evening. It was so much fun.

A real honeymoon would come years later. After stopping in Little Rock to visit my brother who had been nearly killed in a motorcycle accident, we road-tripped our way through the Arkansas Ozarks in our Tuxedo Black 1967 Camaro. Not exactly the highlight of the trip, but remember the laugh we had after discovering that small trading post with the sign out front, “Booger Hollow, Population 7 countin’ one coon dog.”

Young and vibrant we spent our early vacations camping and canoeing in areas of the Ottawa and Chequamegon National Forests. I treasured those nights lying next to you in a shared sleeping bag as we searched the night sky for shooting stars. We got along so well together, perfect companions in almost every way.

Our first argument was over jello—dessert or side dish? Somehow it turned into a much more heated exchange than it should have, but the whole reconciling thing was pretty awesome.

You opened my eyes to faith, something I had ignored up to that point in my life. How excited you were when I agreed to attend church with you. Afterwards I told you that the people there were nice, but I wasn’t planning on hanging around with any of them. You were so patient with me.

We stretched our budget and moved from a $35 a month apartment into a house we rented for a whopping $75. Later we bought our first home in Steger, there we raised our family. Our priorities focused on our faith and family. We always made time for each other and invested ourselves into the lives of our children. 

Despite the seasons of sorrow, our life together has been a good one. It’s said that seventy-eight percent of marriages experiencing the loss of a child end in divorce. I would think having lost two children raises the odds considerably. Yet here we are, still choosing to trust God and each other: still faithful, still friends, lovers, and soul mates. 

In this, the tranquil golden hour of our relationship, we’ve traded in those sleeping bags under the stars for the comfort of our Lazy Boys in front of the TV.  We enjoy the simplicity of our togetherness, our morning coffee, long drives, and small Ma & Pa diners. We are able to communicate without saying a word. We’ve become inseparable, seldom will one of us be seen without the other.

Opting to celebrate this milestone 50th wedding anniversary by going back to our youthful love of nature feels so perfect—nothing showy—just you, just me. Age and discretion has us exchanging those rustic campsites for a quiet lake cottage nestled in the woods. There, we’ll kick up our feet and enjoy the flickering flames and nostalgic aroma of a campfire while surveying the night sky. We’ll cuddle together, looking back on those days of young love. With any luck, we might even spot our shooting star. 

You’re still radiant. It’s still hard to take my eyes off of you. I love these days we have together now. I could probably do with a little less commentary on my driving skills or you asking, “You’re not planning on wearing that, are you?” But I am keenly aware of how blessed I am to be loved by you.

The last hour before sunset is coveted by photographers. Referred to as “the golden hour” it provides a soft diffused light that blurs imperfections and allows for a natural glowing warmth. I think that defines you and me today. While we each have our flaws, they are softened by fifty years of warm love, mutual trust, glowing desire, and the upmost respect for each other — that and the occasional craving for a nice side dish of jello.

Hey, who has it better than us? 


8 thoughts on “Love’s Golden Hour

  1. Gene & Jan, congratulations on your near “perfect” 50 years! You just took me on a memory trip to Lums, Jardines and The Green Shingle. May you both celebrate many more years together and always remember “keep your eyes looking forward on the road.” Love, Gordon and Donna

    Liked by 1 person

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