In our household, we refer to February 14 as VALENTI ne's Day since not many families can claim their own world wide holiday. As such, I thought about a couple of the great love stories, I've been blessed to find along life's way so I thought I would share one here.
My father was number five in a line of six kids and he and all of his older siblings were married multiple times as none of them seemed to be able to stay with their original spouse. One aunt was actually married eight times to seven different husbands; she married one of them twice. The youngest, however, my Uncle Ronnie was married to my Aunt Clara. They were known throughout the family as the ne'er-do-wells, moving due to mounting debts, chasing three boys the whole time, as Ronnie tried his hand at various jobs and trades. Clara finally took a job about the time the boys were grown, as a dispatcher at a local sheriff's department. She seemed settled there, doing well for a year or two, until the day she came home and told my uncle that she had fallen in love with a deputy, a man younger than her. She told her husband of over 20 years that she was leaving him and moving in with her new love, who had custody of his three younger children.
My uncle contemplated his wife for several moments before responding. When he finally spoke, it was in measured quiet tones. "Clara, more than anything in the world, I want you to be happy but I just can't see how moving in with this man is going to do that. We raised three boys together who are now more grown than not. This man claims to love you but he is also desperate for someone to take care of his young ones. I will not discuss divorce or even legal separation at this point. What I will say, is pack a suitcase and go. Anytime in the next six months, if you want to come home, just do so. We can talk about it or not, your choice. At the end of that six months, we can talk about what comes next but I won't discuss any great changes before that."
Clara angrily packed a bag and left and Ronnie along with his two older teen-aged sons came to visit me the next weekend and told me what was going on. I told him how sorry I was that she was following our family line and that I hoped she would change her mind. I received a phone call about three weeks later from my Aunt Clara. She was almost giddy with excitement as she told me she was home with Ronnie and her boys. "You know," she said. "He did just what he said. I told him I really didn't think I wanted to talk about it and he said that was fine."
I saw Uncle Ronnie and Aunt Clara about once a year or every other year after that, when my father, Ronnie's brother, would come to visit from California or when I would stop by their home in Thayer, near West Plains when I was down that way. They were the only ones of my father's siblings who celebrated a 50th anniversary, a few years before Clara died last year.
Jesus talked about love and forgiveness, for our enemies and for our brothers and sisters. Without a doubt, my uncle's patience, forgiveness and plain old-fashioned forever love, preserved his marriage and his family for another 30 years after that incident. Happy VALENTI ne's Day to you and yours!
Laura L. Valenti, author
The Heart of the Spring,
The Heart of the Spring Lives On,
The Heart of the Spring Comes Home,
The Heart of the Spring Everlasting (March 2016)
Between the Star and the Cross: The Choice and
Between the Star and the Cross: The Election
Ozark Meth: A Journey of Destruction and Deliverance with co-author Dick Dixon