Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Saturday, January 30, 2016


CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith for the Years of Winter… ©

It was a hundred years ago. They wanted to get married. On Christmas eve. They started for the parsonage, the minister’s home, in town, on horseback. But when they got to the stream, it had become a river. Sudden and sustained rains had swollen it to several times its normal width. There was no bridge. There was no ford. There was no way they could get married, except…

We were sitting around a long table in the Knights of St. John Hall after the lunch following Aunt Rosemary’s funeral. I had heard Aunt Gertrude tell the story of how her parents got married, but was a little fuzzy on the details, and I wanted Helen and others to hear it, too. So I asked her to tell it again.

Gertrude Robbins and Rosemary Navarra had both lived in Greensburg, Indiana their whole lives but did not meet until 8th grade, because Gertrude went to public school and Rosemary to St. Mary’s School. That was 1936. They became life-long friends. After Gertrude and my uncle, Randall, the number six child in my father’s family, got married, she introduced her friend to Uncle Bob, the brother just above Randall in the birth order. Now we were saying good-bye to Rosemary in Greensburg, and telling Greensburg stories. Aunt Gertrude continued.

…the minister came to the other side of the stream that had become a river. The young couple stood on their side, The minister stood on his side. They shouted back and forth. “Do you take this woman…” “I do…” “Will you love, honor…” “I will.” “Repeat after me…” “With this ring…” “I now pronounce…” “You may kiss…”  

There are gaps in the story. Did they have witnesses? How did the minister know to come to the river? Did they have a license? When and how did they get it signed? We’ll never know the answers to those questions, and it doesn’t matter. What matter is this: Love found a way to start, and love found a way to stay, for well over half a century, “…’til death do us part.”

I regret the final farewell of a funeral, but I love to hear the stories.

John Robert McFarland

I tweet as yooper1721.

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