Forever Love
by Ute Carson
Home Life, Vol. 44, Number 11, August 1990

From the Gulf, the fog rolled over the island in dense billows enshrouding the houses of Galveston. Inside Barbara's home the windows had steamed up. She drew on the pane, peepholes to the outside world. Her finger was tracing a heart with the inscription "love forever" as her mother approached and admonished, "Are you daydreaming about David again?"

David had learned the carpenter trade in the Army. He was a quiet, reserved man whose talent was concentrated in the skill of his hands. Barbara was a bouncy fireball, cute and at ease with people. Her parents had great expectations of her. Maybe she would become a nurse or a teacher and would provide for them in their old age. They never foresaw her marrying. But when David returned from the service, the childhood attraction revived. Barbara told her parents she was going to marry him. They calmly consented.

David built their first home, a bungalow, with his own hands. Barbara was at his side assisting whenever she could. They enjoyed working together and got great satisfaction out of building their own house. Soon after its completion, Barbara's parents constructed their own cottage right behind the bungalow. From the kitchen, Barbara's mother could see her daughter's window blinds being 1owered at night and raised at dawn.

Together the two women sowed seeds, and the morning glories stretched their tentacles along the side yard fence, tying the two house-holds together. When David tinkered with his car in the driveway, Barbara's dad ambled over to advise. The foursome often listened to ball games together on the young couple's con- sole radio, and Barbara's mother al ways brought a bowl of popcorn.

Decide to Move

The Great Depression was on, and David had trouble finding steady work. He and Barbara spent many late night hours mulling over how to get ahead. The decision to go north to look for a job in Michigan came as a surprise to Barbara's parents. Their disapproval took the form of long silences and a slow withdrawal from daily contact.

"Your parents are just pouting," David assured Barbara. ŒThey'1l snap out of it. Take my word for it."

Barbara trusted David's judgment and overlooked her parent's brooding and detachment. The young couple headed north with high hopes.

Barbara's parents remained taciturn. Her letters home went unanswered and she worried. David, too, was changing. Jobs were as scarce in Michigan had been in Galveston, and at times his reserved temperament bordered on depression. Barbara had not felt well in weeks. Maybe a visit home would break the worrisome silence and dispel her own gloomy mood.

Through the pane of the bus window, David couldn't see a tearful Barbara making him signs, drawing hearts in the air, while whispering Œ forever." He was solemn, assuring himself that he had done the right thing in letting her go home. ŒIt won't be for long," he had told her each time she started to hesitate. He waved to the bus pulling out, flailing his arms wildly in the air as if that gesture could stop the inevitable. Only when the taillights had diminished to a tiny star did his arms fall to his sides limp and tired.

David's industriousness and diligence paid off', and he finally found a job with a cabinetmaker. After his first day at work, he began to scour the city for a place to live. An apartment would suit them fine at the beginning. He rented one, and after work and on weekends, he scrubbed and painted and repaired it. Soon the place looked like a home awaiting only Barbara's feminine finishing touches. He wrote Barbara of the good fortune and asked her to return right away.

Barbara's parents were overjoyed at their daughter's homecoming. Having her to themselves reminded them of her childhood years. They welcomed her back with open arms, which soon tightened into a protective embrace and then to an imprisoning clasp. Barbara rejoiced at being home again, being cared for and pampered. By now, she knew that her ill disposition was due to a normal pregnancy.

Being welcomed back by relatives and friends eased her longing for David and distracted her from the fact that the weeks were passing quickly. Every day she checked the mail in vain, but she knew David was busy trying his best to find work. He would send for her, of that she was sure. She trusted David, and she trusted her parents. Never would she have thought that they were intercepting David's letters and returning them unopened.

Receives Upsetting Letter

Hands that always hit the nail on its head, hands that smoothed rough wood into soft surfaces, hands strong and secure, lining up parts and fitting joints together, these hands fluttered like tethered birds and let the letter from Barbara's father, read for the dozenth time, tumble to the floor. The letter informed David that Barbara was pregnant, that she was no longer interested in rejoining him, and that she was filing for divorce.

David's strength of character turned against him. He behaved not the way one would have expected under the circumstances. He did not jump on the next bus to Galveston to reclaim his love, his wife. His re served, quiet nature allowed no raging fury, no hasty action. Instead, he wrote again and again questioning, even begging, for explanations. When, after months, none came, he granted the divorce. Dismayed and unable to understand, he buried himself in his work. His success was partly due to the single devotion with which he gave himself to his job. As the years passed, he remarried and had a family.

Bitterness never crept into Barbara's heart. Believing that God works in mysterious but always rightful ways, she waited. Only in the lonely hours of the night did she let herself go and cried her heart out over the loss of her beloved David. Never did she say, ŒWhy did this happen to me?" Only, "What could have happened to him? What could have caused him to abandon me?" She had not become a teacher or a nurse but instead found a job in a flower shop. Once, before Valentine's Day, she bound bouquets, adding a balloon here and there to the flower arrangements. Gold letters were embossed on one red balloon saying "Forever." Barbara cupped the balloon in both hands, pressed and burst it. The bang sounded like a release of pent-up grief and longing, but it frightened Barbara's co-worker who scuttled in: "Dear, you scared me! And, you've popped the prettiest of our balloons."

When the baby was born, Barbara named her Felicitas, the happy one. Barbara was overjoyed with her baby daughter. She knew David would have been, too. Barbara's parents were also delighted to have a grand- daughter. Their love and protection were lavished on her, as they unconsciously relived Barbara's own childhood.

Over the years, Barbara's relation- ship with her parents began to change. While they concentrated on Felicitas and saw her grow to young womanhood, Barbara took on a different caring role. In his old age, her father developed lung cancer, and Barbara reluctantly moved him to a nursing home where he died. Barbara stayed with her mother for the next two years until her death, tending her as she grew frail with failing health. Neither parent ever repented, or even admitted to the harmful role they had played in separating the loving couple.

David Buries Second Wife

In the year between the death of Barbara's dad and the death and her mother, David had buried his second wife. He had suffering with her through a painful terminal illness.

Hearing the news about the death of Barbara's mother, David decided to call Barbara to express his sympathy. This was the first time they had heard each other's voice in 32 years. At their first reunion, they both acknowledged that they had never stopped loving each other.

Sorting through the silence of all the past years, they reached beyond resentment and placing blame on anyone to fan the still glowing ember of their love.

Three years later, on the anniversary of their first marriage, David and Barbara exchanged vows again. The officiating minister placed his hands over the joined hands of the kneeling couple and blessed them with these words, "How mysterious and wonderful, 0 Lord, are thy works, revealed in the lives of those who trust and believe in Thee. How marvelous, too, the human heart that has its reasons and secrets accessible only to those who respond to its prompting."

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