Somewhere In Time

Sometimes all it takes to learn the details of another’s story is to ask a simple question. The pianist was playing and singing a selection of easy listening music. I was not familiar with the last song in the repertoire of selected music. The melody seemed particularly soothing. Consequently, I commented, “I really liked that last song. I don’t think I’ve ever heard that before. The pianist responded, “The song is entitled, ‘And I Love You So’.” Without pausing for a response, she added, “I really like the song too. I played and sang it at my grandmother’s wedding.”

I probably asked too many questions, but the concept of attending a grandparent’s wedding intrigued me. I had absolutely no frame of reference. I remember attending 50th Wedding Anniversary celebrations for both sets of my grandparents. Following the dissolution of their marriages by death, neither surviving grandparent ever remotely considered getting married again. Both were content with treasuring the memories and investing their lives in those of their children and grandchildren. To my knowledge, the thought of starting over wasn’t even remotely considered.

The pianist went on to share with me her grandmother’s story. Actually, I probably peppered her with questions. I didn’t mean to pry, but one piece of information lead to another question and so on until the bits and pieces of her grandmother’s life were recounted like an open book. She sounded like someone I would have enjoyed knowing.

I’m sure she valued and appreciated her granddaughter’s gift of adding a song that was for all practical purposes written exclusively for someone whose life circumstances mirrored her own.

“And I Love You So”

And I love you so,

The people ask me how,

How I’ve lived till now

I tell them “I don’t know”

I guess they understand

How lonely life has been

But life began again

The day you took my hand

And yes I know how lonely life can be

The shadows follow me

And the night won’t set me free

But I don’t let the evening bring me down

Now that you’re around me

And you love me too

Your thoughts are just for me

You set my spirit free

I’m happy that you do

The book of life is brief

And once a page is read

All but love is dead

This is my belief

And yes I know how loveless life can be

The shadows follow me

And the night won’t set me free

But I don’t let the evening get me down

Now that you’re around me

And I love you so

The people ask me how,

How I’ve lived till now

I tell them “I don’t know”

The song written by Don McLean wasn’t composed with the grandmother in mind, but the lyrics couldn’t have held a truer reflection of her grandmother’s circumstances. She knew first hand how “loveless life can be”. Life for her had often been filled with heartache and disappointment. Her cup had been filled with misery.

Her first marriage barely held together until her three children were grown. In fact, the second daughter had graduated from high school before she opted out of the marriage with the affirmation, “I can’t do this anymore”. Sadly, by that time, both parents were physically and relationally debilitated by their dependency on alcohol. As you might suspect, it was a short-term solution where “another round” proved less than satisfying.

The pianist didn’t share the time-line for her grandmother’s second marriage. It obviously was short lived. As is often the case, without treatment or personal resolve to do life differently, the marriage bed was one of perpetual drunkenness and hangovers. It was not a pretty picture. It, too, was simply a second verse of how “loveless life can be.”

Perhaps, the third time is the charm. At some point, the grandmother married a third time. The third husband was a prominent attorney in a moderately sized town and the two of them worked together to quell the demons of alcohol dependency. Perhaps, for the first time in her life, hope and resolve to do life differently permanently impacted her life. She credited God with the strength and ability to negotiate life differently. Respectability and contentment proved to be the lasting qualities. As an accomplished artist, she often did chalk talks for others as a testimony to God’s grace and the resourcefulness and sobriety He provided.

Unlike the previous two earlier marriages, the grandmother’s third marriage ended in the untimely death of her husband. They were married for twenty-something years and together they shared contentment and quality of life.

Several years after the death of her husband, the grandmother traveled to Michigan to visit a family member. While in Michigan, she and the family member visited Mackinac Island, a quaint picturesque resort town featuring at least five art galleries and a host of other attractions. The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island has been the setting for two feature films: This Time For Keeps in 1946 and Somewhere In Time in 1979.

In uncharacteristic fashion, the grandmother asked to go into a tavern. She wanted to listen to music. Was it love at first sight? Who knows, but the fiddle player in the group sent a couple of notes to the grandmother written on paper napkins. The two of them subsequently carved out the time to visit and hit it off.

Theirs proved to be a long distance courtship. After exchanging letters and sharing telephone calls together over a period of several months, the grandmother opted to accept the fiddle player’s hand in marriage. He traveled to Texas for the ceremony. Because of commitments to continue with music lessons to several folks on Mackinac Island for at least six months, the new bride accompanied him back to his home.

Horrified may be too strong of a word to describe her response to his living conditions, but the unkempt lawn, dirty dishes in the sink and the unorganized/cluttered nature of the house jolted her from what proved to be obviously a temporary infatuation. She went immediately back to Texas and filed for an annulment; opting instead to live with the treasured memories of a life shared with her third husband. The words to “And I Love You So” represented that relationship, not the all too brief relationship with husband number four.

You can learn a lot about others from just asking a few simple questions. Everyone has a story. No one’s story is a picture of perfection. Broken is the only way we come. Fortunately, with God’s grace we aren’t relegated to stay that way. Somewhere in time and love that lasts a life time is found in Him.

All My Best!

Don

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