Gordon and Mary

This is the story of Gordon and Mary.  A fairytale love that’s hard to find.  But will it last?

Gordon was 37.  He had run away from home when he was 14, and had been on his own ever since.  Working his way West across Canada, building giant electrical towers, he then hopped a lumber boat from Vancouver to Australia at age 19.  A few years later was New Zealand.  Nearly a decade later, he returned to Canada, and he worked construction.  A few years later again, he began to ply his trade in the U.S.

On his travels, he had his many adventures.  His stories usually began with him walking down the street, and a lovely woman on each arm.  Both ladies were likely redheads.  The details might get a little fuzzy after that.  One had been a farmer’s daughter.  Her father wanted Gordon to marry his daughter, with the promise that one day the farm would be his.  Another was a merchant’s daughter.  Her father also wanted Gordon to be his son-in-law, and one day the business would be his.  “Stay here with me,” a lovely girl would plead.  No.  He wasn’t one to tie down.

Mary was 23.  A shy girl not long out of teacher’s college.  Classrooms of students ages 7 or 8 suited her well.  She had taught Sunday School for years, too.  But “Miss Peer” wasn’t so comfortable talking with unknown adults.

She had had a romance or two in her young life.  One was tall, dark, and handsome – his father owned the local hardware store, and his mother was an elegant Indian woman from the high plains.  She accepted his proposal.  Her mother had visions, though.  She saw scenes of her daughter crying and crying.  The engagement was called off.  Another man entered the scene.  He had been married before, and he had two small children.  He whisked her off on a dazzling trip to California.  Took her to Disneyland.  He brought his children, too.  Seems he was more interested in her taking care of the children.  Then, come to find out… he was still married.

She had taken a job miles and miles from home to teach Grade 2 in a small community.  When she had first started there, it was mostly well-behaved farm children.  This year, though, the classroom had more and more wild children from the city that had been sent to live with their grandparents – in the hopes that they might tame them somehow.  Her only friends were her fellow school teachers.  The pastor the next town over, she had known from his previous post in her home town.  She had supper with him and his family one night every week.

A dark, cold, and rainy January night.  The quiet, boring day after New Year’s.  She went out to eat – alone – at a buffet restaurant.  Afraid to talk to anyone, and sad to be so alone.  She hadn’t been able to go home for Christmas that year.  She had been praying to God for the gift of companionship.  Going through the buffet line, looking over the food, but nothing seemed appetizing.  Coming up next in line behind her was this smiling, energetic man.  He had dancing, sparkling hazel eyes.  He started to talk to her.

What?  No.  People didn’t just approach her like this – let alone men.  She shouldn’t talk to him.  But those eyes.  And his smile had something like a dimple.  They were both there to eat alone that night, but ended up sitting together and chatting.  But didn’t he have the most amazing stories from all over the place?  And an exotic Australian accent.  He was too good to be true.  Was this what she’d been praying for?

Listening to his stories, of where he’d been and where he planned to go next, her response was, “Take me with you.”

He stopped.  That caught his attention.  This tall, quiet woman with dark hair, blue-white skin, and clear green eyes was pretty, but…  Out of all the times he’d heard women say “Stay here with me”, this is was first time he’d ever heard “Take me with you.”  He’d been praying for this, too.

They got together for a meal and a chat again the next night.  And the next.  And the next.  She took him with her for her weekly supper at the pastor’s house.  And again.

They dated for 3 weeks.  Then they were engaged.  They would only be engaged for 3 weeks before the wedding.  Only six weeks from the day they met to ‘til Death do they part.

He phoned his parents outside Winnipeg to let them know their oldest son was finally getting married.  His mother asked him in Plautdietsch (a very old dialect of Low German) if she was a maiden.  He had been gone from home and the language for a long time.  He missed her meaning.  Of course she’s a girl – yes, she’s a maiden.  He didn’t realize the translation in that sense should have been “virgin”.

She phoned her parents in Idaho, in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, to let them know she was getting married.  Only 3 weeks away.  “Do you have to get married?”  She loved him.  She couldn’t imagine living without him.  Of course she had to get married.  She missed their meaning.  She didn’t realize her parents were now preparing for a shotgun wedding.

That mid-February day came, bedecked with yellow roses and white calla lilies throughout the church.  Gordon in his best brown suit.  Mary in a simple lace eggshell dress and netted veil.  Family and friends with a lot of questions.  The pastor happily married the couple.  He said that they had fit in more time getting to know one another, as well as chat with the pastor, than most couples fit into six months!

One of Mary’s fellow teachers at the school was so enthralled with this whirlwind love affair, that she began dating one of Gordon’s co-workers from the construction site, too.  They, too, were quickly married.  That did not end well.

40 years of ups and downs; trials and tribulations – Gordon and Mary still loved each other.  They both still thought of one another as the answer to their prayers.  Raising children and enjoying grandchildren.

Gordon died of lung cancer in late 2006.  Mary didn’t last long without him.  She died in early 2008 of colon cancer and a broken heart.  They’re together again now.

This is a true story.  The best ones often are.  If only we could all find a love like Gordon and Mary.  My parents.