Fifty years ago this week, I was scrambling to change plans for my immediate future. When I agreed to marry Larry, neither of us had any idea how much uncertainty and adventure was ahead.
Our formal church wedding was scheduled for Saturday, September 23, based on Larry’s promised two-week leave at the end of his Advanced Infantry Training at Fort Ord, California. He would hitchhike 175 miles home after graduation, then drive to my parent’s house in Brightwood, near Mt. Hood. We’d have nearly a week of getting re-acquainted after not seeing each other for six months. After the wedding, we’d have a week-long honeymoon before he left for Officers Candidate School, and I would return to Oregon College of Education for my senior year. When he finished OCS, I would join him at his next duty station.
But the US Army had other ideas. On September 15, he learned that he had no orders for his next assignment, and as a “hold-over” would not be allowed to leave the base. Waves of panic flowed between Fort Ord and Brightwood. Finally, after a very tense weekend, his reputation as a model soldier gave him the edge to get permission for a 72-hour pass to come to the wedding.
Honeymoon plans were out the window, but when Larry suggested that I cancel my plans to return to school and go back to Fort Ord with him the day after the wedding, I didn’t hesitate. In the middle of the Vietnam War, soldiers and their sweethearts grabbed any chance to be together!
Because Larry was sidelined, it was up to me to make all the arrangements. I called the college and withdrew my registration, called my prospective landlady to tell her I wouldn’t be renting a room, and bought two one-way tickets to fly from Portland to Fresno the morning after the wedding. As a splurge, I booked a room at Timberline Lodge for our wedding night.
Of course there’s more to the story, but as I sit here fifty years later reminiscing about that crazy, emotional week, I realize it’s a very personal illustration of the verse I read this morning in the Book of Isaiah: Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be overcome with joy and gladness.
I’m so grateful for God’s hand in our lives. He proved himself faithful that week decades ago, and has continued to lovingly lead and guide us year after year, turning disappointment and sadness into joy and peace.