Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine Stories That Didn't Make The Cut

Since we are approaching Valentine's Day, I thought it appropriate, and my editor agreed, that I solicit love stories for my print column in the Spokesman-Review. I have done so. The replies have been overwhelming, so I decided in case my editor doesn't like me featuring my own family, I would share these bit by bit in this forum. The first is one that Brother Stan wrote. I doubt that he has ever put in writing his feelings about his marriage and life in general. For that reason, and that of a mean editor might slash too much out, I am presenting, my brother, Stan Huseland and his love story:

"Herb, the Bayview blog-meister, has challenged his readership to join in a Valentine season of love stories. And he has made a pointed suggestion to this particular reader to get with it.

You see Herb is my brother. More than that, he was my best man when I wed Marilyn, a winsome Indiana girl, nearly 50 years ago (Sep. 5, 1959 for those who like detail). I quickly saw Herb's scheme. With a half century of married partnership, I had the opportunity--nay, a duty!--to share my love story.

Introspection is not my strong suit. Herb and I have curmudgeon blood coursing through our veins. We know all the ills of the outside world, and damn-sure answers to it all. Thinking about how Marilyn and I managed nearly 50 years together required a no-bull analysis that is both challenging, humbling, and a bit discomforting.

The secret, of course, is Marilyn. She has an even temper, an unselfish and gracious concern for others, a contagious smile, and oceans of patience. As I search for what glues a marriage for the long haul, I know these are the essentials. Yet I am in short supply in all these departments. I love Marilyn deeply, and I am thankful again and again for capturing this Hoosier lass. Yet I know that I rely too much on her virtues to trump my failings.

Stress is challenging for any marriage. As a young couple we had our share. She was a devout Catholic; I was a passive Protestant. We quickly had four children who tested our parenting skills and our family budget. At times, we both were earners, as finances seemed to trump togetherness. Yet through it all we persevered. I often raged at the problems; Marilyn found ways to calm the waters.

Then there came a time when all the issues seemed to subside. Our children grew up, and we experienced the sweet contentment of becoming re-acquainted with them on an adult-to-adult basis, no longer responsible for directing their lives, but sharing it as equals, always with love.

Job success leveled off, and ambition turned to thoughts of retirement. It happened 14 years ago. I decided we should travel this last chapter of our lives with a single faith. I joined Marilyn as a Catholic.

We bought a small trailer (some call them pop-ups) to explore the world (or at least the lower 48. Our adventure over these 14 years has been to see our wonderful country--Maine to Florida to California to Washington (including Bayview). Now we vegetate as Florida snowbirds, as our Indiana home awaits us in the spring.

Through it all, my Valentine partner has kept me anchored, tolerating my foibles, and finding a loving role in all that we do. It's been a terrific 50 years, and through it all, Marilyn has been the rock.

Thanks, Herb, for nudging me to this Valentine moment. You're still my best man."

And one from my son, Brian:

Brian Huseland Is Heard From

I met my wife the first time at night, around a college campfire. I was a freshman, enjoying my new found independence in distant Iowa, hundreds of miles from anything familiar. Little did I know that the landscape of my life was also about to shift, all because of that lady with waist-length hair who sat across the fire from me. We became good friends and were involved in some of the same campus clubs. We started reading books to each other, and romance blossomed somewhere between chapter 14 and 23 of James & the Giant Peach. Two years later we were married, basing our relationship on the love of Christ in the Bible. Seems like a book had done it again. Since that wedding day 16 years ago, our lives have twined together into a story of its own, packed with adventures on the Great Plains, the Southwest, a few years in Europe, and now the Inland Northwest. What remains is a happy, committed relationship. My wife is one of the best things to happen to me. Our path? Forgiveness and sacrifice. We have stayed together because we give up our own rights to nourish the joined life we live.

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