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Running in the Lobby

 

Today would be the birthday of my precious great aunt,  Letha Stockwell Reynolds.  In honor and memory of her life, we’re posting a reader favorite story, “Running Through The Lobby.”

It’s a post about love and Aunt Letha and her husband of seventy-seven years, Gordon, are the stars.

 

Learn more about Deep Roots at http://www.creekbank.net/books/deep-roots/

 

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Running through the Lobby

30 seconds, 8 short minutes, 76 years ago

 

It’s nearly midnight—Mountain Daylight Time on the last night of a Writers Conference. I’m sitting on the floor in the Marriott Denver lobby. I’m close to an electric plug for the laptop and can spread out my papers.

I’m doing what I love best: writing. It’s quiet. Everyone with any sense has gone to bed.

I’m glad I’m up because if I hadn’t been I’d missed them.

I heard them before I saw them: First I heard their giggling, then the sound of their steps. A young couple in white, hand in hand, sprinting through the lobby. She wore a beautiful wedding dress, carrying her slippers in one hand. The groom wore a matching white tuxedo as he hollered a Rocky Mountain version of the Rebel Yell.

They were running (as much as you can run in a wedding dress) toward the elevator. Visibly deeply in love. Laughing. Full of emotion from a special day that’ll live on in their hearts.

They didn’t see me behind a potted palm, but I couldn’t resist, “Congratulations.”

They waved while impatiently waiting at the elevator.

I added, “My wife and I just celebrated thirty years. Believe me, it only gets better.”

The bride smiled. “Then congratulations to you.” The elevator opened, and they were gone. The whole scene probably took thirty seconds.

I only saw them for that brief moment in time. My prayer is that they’ll feel the same way in thirty years that DeDe and I do.

I thought back to that Thursday—August 9, 1979. We got married in her parents’ living room. I have a photo of us as a newly married couple with the mantel clock behind us. It reads 2:08 PM.

Our wedding took eight minutes. However, a knot can definitely be tied securely in less than eight minutes. It’s a matter of the heart.

Long ago on an August afternoon.

Brought back to my memory a running giggling newlywed couple in the lobby of the Denver Marriott.

Amanda LaFitte Iles at the Old House
Amanda LaFitte Iles at the Old House

The young couple in the lobby made me think about Uncle Gordon and Aunt Letha. They don’t run across lobbies anymore. Their mode of travel are matching wheelchairs at the Kinder Nursing Home.

Aunt Letha is my paternal grandmother’s sister and Uncle Gordon is her loving spouse of seventy-six years.

Last year, Uncle Gordon told me of their marriage day. “It was December 1932 when we eloped. Due to the nosy neighbors, we avoided the Oberlin courthouse. Our arrival in Lake Charles brought an unpleasant surprise—a long line of couples snaked out of the Clerk of Court’s office. Texas had more stringent laws on marrying and most of the waiting couples had crossed the Sabine to get ‘married quickly’.”

With a sparkle in his eye, he continued, “I’m sure folks thought we wouldn’t last, but they were wrong.” He stared across the room they shared at the Kinder Nursing Home. “We’re still together seventy-six years later.”

I was always amazed how their mannerisms and speech were so similar. I guess three-quarters of a century living together welds two hearts, lives, and even personalities into one. To me they modeled grace and commitment. They didn’t have to talk about the strength of their marriage. It showed in every action and deed.

 

In the “lowlands” of temporary things and throwaway relationships, the towering marriage of Gordon and Letha Reynolds looms as Mt. Everest.

A marriage where two became one.

A joyful marriage where “unto death do us part” took seventy-six years to come.

When Aunt Letha died last September, everyone worried about Uncle Gordon. He was 98 and now alone—separated from his mate. How would he react to that first anniversary—December 25—spent apart?

After seventy-six Christmas Days as man and wife, he would be alone on this one, but their separation was short-lived. Uncle Gordon followed quickly behind his wife, dying just days before Christmas.

I believe they were back together for their 77th anniversary—with many more to come.

Thanks Uncle Gordon and Aunt Letha for showing us how it’s done.

Seventy-six years.

Even eight short minutes thirty long years ago.

Then a thirty-second encounter in a Denver Hotel lobby.

It’s all about a thing called love.

Long live love.

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About Curt Iles

I write to have influence and impact through well-told stories of my Louisiana and African sojourn.

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