A Love For The Ages

Did you ever wonder what true love is? Ever think there could be no such thing as love at first sight? Well, I'm here to tell you that true love exists, and love at first sight can happen. How do I know this? I knew Bill and Doris – they were my parents.

Dad ran his father's machine shop in a small town in Michigan. The Robinsons were considered one of the leading families in the town, and at 30, Bill was quite an eligible bachelor.

Mother's parents were Swedish immigrants who were trying to make a good life for their two daughters. At age 20, Doris had been able to go to college for two years, but the growing Depression made it necessary for her to find secretarial work to help support the family.

She found work at an auto repair shop, but when her father said one day that there might be a position at Mr. Robinson's shop, she went right down to apply.

Bill was surprised to hear from his secretary that there was a young woman asking for an interview - he had no positions open. But he agreed to see her. When Doris walked into his office, he knew that the position he wanted her for was not secretary or bookkeeper, but wife. And Doris could only see his intense blue eyes; a few moments later she realized that the rest of the man was just as handsome.

Very politely, Bill informed Doris that he regretted not having a position available, and Doris went home, not quite disappointed yet, because she was still thinking about Bill's good looks.

The next day, a Friday, Bill called Doris and said that he never asked job applicants out on dates, but would she go to dinner with him the next evening. She accepted.

The first date was like most first dates of the 1930's, I suppose, except for the two-hour drive they took after dinner. Bill loved cars, and he had a new one, so he wanted to show Doris what the car could do. As he drove, he talked cars almost non-stop. Fortunately, Doris was able to keep up with him because of her experience in the repair shop.

The next day they went for a Sunday drive - again two hours of fast driving and fast talking. They must have gone at least 60 miles an hour, and Bill talked just as fast as he drove. On the way back, Bill asked Doris to marry him.

Stunned, Doris hesitated. Well-bred young ladies did not rush into marriage in the 1930's, but she didn't want to lose Bill. There were lots of young ladies who would jump at the chance to snare this handsome man. She offered a compromise: they would be secretly engaged for a year, and then they could tell the world. Bill agreed.

The next year was full of flowers, candy, love notes, and wonderful long drives and talks. Bill was a well-educated man, with a degree in business from University of Michigan. He had a sense of humor that kept Doris laughing with his stories and jokes. And he was romantic. When Doris was extremely ill with strep throat, he visited every day, bringing flowers and encouragement. On the days she felt and looked her worst, he assured her that she was beautiful.

At the end of the year, the engagement was announced. Now there was a year of planning. Doris was honored at many showers and luncheons, and Bill was kept busy finding and buying their first home and furnishings. Finally, on May first, 1935, they were married. Does the story of true love end there? Was it a case of "they lived happily ever after?" Well, not exactly. What couple does live happily ever after?

Seven years after the marriage, a lovely daughter was born. The love expanded to embrace her, and it sustained them when they learned that there could be no more babies.

I suppose it could have stopped there - that this could be the happily ever after. But not for Bill and Doris. Their love was so great they just had to share it even more. Thirteen years later the family was doubled with the addition of three more children - children who needed the love and stability of the kind of home Bill and Doris had. After their quiet, shy, and well-behaved daughter, these three were quite a handful, but again the strength of love built a warm, heart-bound family.

That love that joined them the instant their eyes met was sorely tested in the years that followed. Business problems cut their income almost in half at one point, but even though things became tough, their love saw them through.

In later years, after the children had all grown and moved away, friends and neighbors remarked how much in love Bill and Doris were. One could tell by the way they looked at one another, and by their tender concern for each other.

Their fiftieth anniversary was celebrated with a quiet family dinner. Although their children thought fifty years of marriage was a great accomplishment, Bill and Doris thought it was only natural that they should still be together.

Five years later, Bill passed away. But the strength of their love for one another supported Doris. Then she found a calendar filled with all the things that needed to be done to keep the home (and of course his beloved cars) running through the year. Although it was only Bill's notes to himself, it was as though he was continuing to take care of Doris even though he was not present.

Doris lived for seven years after Bill's passing. And almost every day she would find something that reminded her of her one and only love.

Love at first sight? Indeed! A love that lasted more than 60 years. A love that stayed strong through good times and bad. A love that expanded with their family. A love so strong that neither of them even thought of being unfaithful. A love that I firmly believe is still going strong today.

A love that their children and grandchildren can point to and say, "I hope I can have that, too."

Beth Robinson
January 1999

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