After the wedding we drove to His Mansion in the car that had belonged to my mother’s parents. They were too feeble to come, but this gave them a part in the wedding as well.
The reception was crowded and full of great conversations. By the time we got to the refreshment table, however, there wasn’t much left. But we did get enough of the great wedding cake my aunt Ruthie had made for us.
Barbara had suggested we take her mother with us on our honeymoon. “Poor mama, she won’t have anyone to speak German with for a whole week!”
“She’ll make out just fine,” I said. “We are not taking her!”
We went to Schroon Lake, the headquarters for Word of Life where Barbara had worked the first two years she was in the States. We stayed with one of her old friends who ran a motel with cabins.
Mrs. Spinelli’s husband had had a stroke and couldn’t talk, so she was lonely and wanted to visit. She invited us for supper at 5 pm and talked to us non-stop for over three hours. It was 9 pm before we finally got back to our cabin.
“I don’t know if I can take a whole week of this!” I said.
Then the Lord brought something to mind: “Didn’t you marry so you could serve others better together? Here’s your first opportunity to serve as a couple!”
“Yes, Lord, you are right. Ok, we will serve this lady in any way we can.”
The next morning when we went for breakfast, Mrs Spinelli told us that her mother had died during the night, a long expected event as she had been in a coma for considerable time. Mrs. Spinelli had to go to New Jersey for the rest of the week. Would we mind?
I had to chuckle. The Lord has a way of testing us, bringing us to surrender, and then giving us the desires of our hearts.
Barbara had a good time introducing me to all her friends. We went to the gas station and tanked up, but the owner not only didn’t take any money for the gas, instead he gave us a $20 bill as a present! The Word of Life folks gave us a little reception. It was a nice time.
We wanted to hike up a mountain while we were there, and the evening before we drove out to the base of it in my van, planning to sleep there so we could get an early start. Just as we were getting into bed I remembered that the lock on the side door didn’t work. Someone could easily come right in during the night! My old companion, fear, gripped my heart.
Barbara said she could feel the fear come right into the van. Her response was to laugh. She thought to herself, “Here I married this big guy to protect me but he’s afraid and I’m not!”
We prayed and stayed. But this was another manifestation of that irrational demonic fear flowing from the monster movie. I’d seen as a child. It would continue to plague me for years to come. The Lord was not yet done with what He wanted to accomplish through it in my life.
We got back home on Sunday evening and found Barbara’s mother none the worse for having had no German speakers for a week. Mom was a very gracious hostess and they had communicated with “hands and feet,” as the Germans say.
The next day at 7am there came a knock on our bedroom door. “Zeit zum aufstehen!” commanded my mother-in-law. “Time to get up!”
I glared at Barbara. “What does she think she’s doing?” I asked. “I’m the boss in this house and in the business, too. My workplace is fifty feet from the house. I can go out there whenever I am ready to!”
This was to be the first of many challenging encounters I would have with the German culture of my mother-in-law. Several days later after we put Barbara’s mother onto the plane back to Germany, I thought things would naturally settle into a nice harmony between us; instead there was a constant stream of new things to deal with.
For one thing, Barbara began to order me around. “Get up.” “Do this.” “Do that.” We had a talk about this and it turned out that she was just translating into English what were to her normal requests in German. What was somewhat polite in German turned into something pretty pushy in English!
Then when my birthday came at the end of May, Barbara handed me a big bouquet of flowers as her present. I was amazed–and insulted: flowers for a man!??? This certainly went against everything I’d absorbed from Dad about being masculine—values I had stored away long ago on a hidden emotional level. Receiving flowers as a gift from my wife pushed all my negative buttons!
I looked at the flowers, tossed them over my shoulder and said, “So where’s my real present?” Now Barbara was shocked. Her father would have loved to get flowers for his birthday. She could not understand why I reacted so negatively. We both had a lot of things to adjust to!
Picture: My mother was very happy I was married