More from my autobio.
That winter my sister, Marcia, got engaged to Chris, a good friend of my brother, Les. Chris and Les had gone to college together, studied in Germany together, and lived together after college while working as computer engineers for the same company.
They had also made a trip together to South America by motorcycle, intending to travel the whole rim of the continent, but were forced to return home from Quito, Ecuador when both came down with severe cases of hepatitis A.
We had shared a lot with Chris about the Lord, but he was not interested. He and Les were very much focused on motorcycles, running and their many adventures.
One time when Marcia was out in Ohio, visiting Les at the house he lived in with Chris and three other bachelors, she and Chris were talking about spiritual things. At the end he finally said, “Look, I have a great job, great friends, and a great fiancé. I will never reach out to God unless my life turns upside down.” That was dangerous and prophetic thing to say!
Sometime after this conversation, Chris and his fiancé were traveling with her two small children to Chris’ parents’ house for Thanksgiving. A drunk driver ran a stop sign and hit their vehicle, killing Chris’ fiancé on the spot. Just a few minutes before, Chris had switched seats with his fiancé. During the accident, the van was left literally flipped upside down but neither Chris nor the children were injured.
Shortly after, recognizing that God had met his challenge and turned his world upside down, Chris surrendered to the Lord, was born again and began his very fruitful life-long spiritual journey.
Following his time of grieving for his fiancé, settling her estate and getting her children into the care of her sister, Chris was able to think of moving on with his life. Over the years, he had been interested in Marcia, but knew she wouldn’t be interested in someone who was not a committed Christian.
Now that this major barrier was removed, he courted her, and they were soon engaged. We were all enthused about this for Chris had basically been a member of our family for years and his marrying Marcia only made it official.
They planned a May wedding, on the 27th. Marcia not only wanted to get married on a Saturday, but wanted to hold the wedding in the yard of our house and have the reception in one of the tire business buildings!
I was not too happy with this, as it meant that we’d have to be closed on a Saturday, the busiest workday of the week, but I bowed to Dad’s desire to grant his youngest daughter her wish.
Barbara was due with our second baby on May 29th, so we were hoping that there would be no interference with the wedding. The rehearsal dinner was on the evening of the 26th. I had an upset stomach, so I stayed home with little Josh. Barbara said it was a great meal and even commented to one of her sisters-in-law that it was a good meal to have before a delivery.
Then at 1:30 am she nudged me and said, “It’s time to go to the hospital.”
“Oh no!” I groaned, still feeling quite sick, and rolled over. She got up and got ready. I struggled out of bed and went over to my parents to tell them we were leaving. Their door was locked, however, so I went in through the cellar and upstairs to give them the news. And then we were off to the hospital.
When the doctor came into the labor room, he took one look at me and said, “Nurse, get this man some crackers and juice! He looks as pale as a ghost!”
Little Nathanael was born at 8:30 am. Unlike Josh, when he was brought to us, he didn’t open his eyes at all, but just nursed a little and then slept. They were two very different boys, right out of the womb.
I was home by 9:30 and got ready for the wedding, dressing Josh in the little suit Barbara’s mother had made for him (see picture below). The bride told me she thought he was the cutest little German boy there!
I was to be an usher, so I tucked Josh into the crook of my arm, where he sat like a little prince, and together we escorted people down the aisle in the yard behind our house.
As Chris and Marcia were leaving for their honeymoon, they stopped by the hospital to see Barbara and little Nathanael–very nice. It was an illustration of the kind of support they and my other siblings would give us throughout the coming years.