Canceling plans, reminiscing about a faithful day outside Goessel

Forty years ago, Kathy Schroeder of rural Canton and I stood before friends and family at Alexanderwohl Mennonite Church near Goessel to exchange wedding vows. I felt extremely lucky to be marrying my best friend. I still feel that way after four decades. So much has changed, but our love has remained steadfast. And, for that, I am thankful and appreciative.

Our big celebration plans, like those of many others, were sidetracked by the arrival of COVID-19. We had booked a cruise from Vancouver, Canada, to Alaska in order to commemorate our anniversary. I assume you can guess how that turned out. Our trip was officially canceled by the cruise line in March. We are still working out refund details with one of the airlines. Instead of our big adventure to the last frontier (as opposed to space, the final frontier), we have put together a camping journey through New Mexico, hoping those plans will hold up against the novel coronavirus. Fingers crossed that the disease does not surge a second time.

The weather on that June day in 1980 was breezy. We were sweating inside the sanctuary, as those were the days before air conditioning in the historic church. The high temperatures in the weeks leading up to the Saturday celebration were a foretaste of what was to come as about a million days of 100-degree heat followed that summer. It was a historical hot spell. My dad found us a window air conditioner and installed it in our Goessel home. That helped take the edge off the heat. We returned from our honeymoon to find that our used refrigerator had failed, and the remains of our celebration desserts were a puddle in our freezer. But, we were newlyweds, so a few minor setbacks were hardly noticeable.

Three years later, we were blessed with a baby boy. He had us all to himself for seven years before his sister was born. Today, they get along like parents hope siblings will. We are proud of both of them.

We purchased a house and moved to West Grand in Hillsboro within the first year of our marriage. About 10 years later, we bought the Doc Eitzen house on Main Street and have lived there ever since.

Our marriage has survived several remodeling projects of the more than 100-year-old dwelling. We made one brief attempt at team wallpapering, but we wisely decided to leave that job to the experts. Most of the rooms are now painted.

We never officially discussed the division of chores around the house. At least I cannot recall that conversation. As it turned out, I have always enjoyed doing the yardwork and outdoor chores. Wife Kathy is fine with more of the inside work. So, all the jobs around the house have been covered. Naturally, we cross over and help out where needed. I have done a couple of loads of laundry, and Kathy has pulled a few weeds. One of the best moves we ever made was to buy an automatic dishwasher.

We have enjoyed traveling together over the decades. There have been several trips to Europe with students. We took the family to Florida one year and cruised from Québec, Canada, to Boston for our 35th anniversary. After a long hiatus, we have returned to camping, which is much easier as empty nesters. We own a fully self-contained travel trailer. The times of tenting are well back in our rearview mirror. In fact, I don’t think we ever slept on the ground.

About 2 ½ years ago, we were afforded two more blessings as our twin grandchildren entered our lives. They have brought immeasurable joy to us. We can’t imagine life without them.

I know we will face challenges in the coming years. We keep hearing that these times are unprecedented. As we age, we will also face new health issues. But, as long as we remain best friends and prefer each other’s company above all others, we remain confident that we can overcome whatever life throws at us.