Here is the second chapter of brief sketches remembering my wife.
Chapter Two: The Beginning
Laurie was born in Des Moines, Iowa. Her parents were Earl and Tamzon Melos. Her younger siblings were Ronna, David, and Ann. She grew up in Ankeny, Iowa, and graduated from high school in 1970. While attending the University of Iowa, the Lord granted her repentance and faith.
This is How We Met
Laurie told me that she had seen me at a couple of Bible studies, but she actually only met me at the University of Iowa field house during Spring registration back in January of 1973. I was handing out New Testaments and asking people to sign up for an extra-curricular course in New Testament Greek. She signed up. I don’t remember any of this. However, I do remember her later attending the Greek class, and that she soon dropped out.
Five months later, I first took notice of her at the wedding of a friend in June, and I remember making the mental note that if I ever saw her again, well, I would have to do “something.” Well, I saw her again, and that’s really where the story begins for me.
After graduating from the University of Iowa, I moved back with my parents for the summer of 1973. But I would come back to Iowa City every Sunday morning to visit with that newly married friend and his spouse, and we would travel together to Cedar Rapids to attend a church there. After returning to Iowa City later in the afternoon, I would sometimes linger for a bit while we discussed things, but I would always leave well before supper – except this one time, and when I realized how late it was I insisted that I had to leave, but they insisted that I join them at an evening Bible study. I don’t remember how they finally got me to go to that Bible study, but, well you already guessed it, that was where I saw Laurie again, and true to my promise to myself, I had to do “something.” Actually, all I had to do at this meeting – and for the next few weeks – was just follow the many steps that the Lord had already laid out for me in advance – I almost tripped over them, they came so fast. I can only relate a few of them here.
Five foot two, eyes of blue, thick red hair and freckles too, has anybody seen my gal?
Way back in kindergarten, there was this little girl who left an impression on me. Her family moved away the next year, and I never saw her since (I do remember her name), but she had red hair and freckles on freckles, and I liked that. I don’t know how much that influenced me, but I remember distinctly driving down a certain street, seeing a sign (I don’t even know if Wendy’s was in Iowa City at the time, but it could have been a Wendy’s sign), and thinking I’d like to marry someone with red hair, blue eyes, and freckles. I don’t know why I thought that, I just know that I did.
At the Bible study, they announced there would be messages each week-day evening at a Bible camp some miles away. I had a big car, so I offered a ride for each evening to anybody who wanted to go, leaving the rest to the Lord. Among those who accepted the invitation – well, again, you’re already ahead of me – was Laurie. And the obvious route to pick people up had me picking Laurie up first, and leaving her off last, which afforded opportunity to talk with her a bit. For five days. In my car. Alone.
The Lord had brought Laurie to conversion, but it came out that she had not been baptized with water. She didn’t see why she would need to be baptized. A pastor friend of mine was going to do baptisms soon. I told Laurie I’d like to talk to her about it. So Saturday morning – the Saturday immediately after the week-day evening Bible Camp messages – we met a McDonald’s, I explained how water baptism doesn’t save anybody, but I showed her that the Lord did command it as an act displaying – among other things – a good conscience in active obedience and submission and loyal allegiance to Him. She said she had never been shown that, and she changed her mind on the spot. I was impressed with how she responded to the Word. She was baptized soon thereafter.
After that, I saw a lot of her over a short period of time. One incident stands out. We were walking back to her apartment from a Bible study, and I mentioned the thing about marrying someone with red hair, blue eyes, and freckles. I said, “Two out of three ain’t bad.” She said, “What do you mean?” I said, “Well, you have blonde hair,” She said, “No I don’t. I have red hair.” Well, the summer had bleached her strawberry red hair so much that I never noticed – it looked pretty blonde to me. But as soon as she said it, I realized she did indeed have red hair. And, by the way, she did happen to be five-foot-two like the line in the song.
This is getting a bit long, so I’m skipping over a bunch of things such as meeting her parents, the evening boat ride at my uncle’s cabin on Clear Lake, the marriage proposal (I literally don’t remember it at all, but I’m quite sure it happened, and Laurie used to talk about it), and getting her father’s approval (by phone, if you can believe it) just before I had to leave for school in Oregon. I returned to marry Laurie on December 14 in the middle of a snow storm. Laurie put the whole wedding together. I just had to show up and say “I do.” These and many more events had God’s guiding providence stamped all over them.
Homeschooling before We Knew It
The second day after we were married, while discussing the topic of children with another couple, they began talking about when their children would go to public (government) school. Though Laurie and I had never once discussed the topic before this time, we both simultaneously and in perfect unison interrupted to say that we were not putting our children in public school. At that time, we had no notion where this might eventually lead us. It was in fact a harbinger of what would define, direct, and determine much of our lives.
At first I didn’t remember her, but now everything reminds me of her.
A little song I wrote: Living in the Memory of You
It starts with all the things you used to say.
It goes on with all the things you used to do.
Longing for your touch.
Loving you so much.
I’m living in the memory of you.
I gaze into your lovely eyes a while.
Now and then I linger on your smile.
The way you do your hair.
Now wishin’ you were here.
So we could walk along another mile.
Yes I know you’re gone.
And I know I must I move on.
Still I’m living in the memory of you.
I wish that I might see you just once more.
Standing there just like you were before.
I’d look up and there you’d be.
Looking back at me.
With the look I learned to long for and adore.
I’m as lonely as can be,
I know time is the only remedy,
Yet the memory of you will always live in me.