“Like a river flows, surely to the sea, Darlin’ so it goes, some things are meant to be, So…take my hand, take my whole life too, for I can’t help falling in love with you.”
Elvis Presley sang it years before I met Doug, but as I look back it feels like falling in love with him was inevitable. I wonder about others. Does everyone who stays married a long time look back and think, “this had to happen, this person and I were meant to be?”
I don’t know about anyone else but I cannot imagine what my life would be if I were not married to this man who is my best friend, and one of the people I most admire in life. I am who I am because he has always been there for me, always believed in me, always supported me. And I am still crazy in love with him.
But at the time we met the absolute logic of a match between us might not have appeared so clear. In fact it escaped a number of our friends and family members. It hardly appeared destined given our different backgrounds.
You see, Doug is descended from John and Samuel Adams through his paternal grandfather, Benjamin Harrison Eddy, (yes, named for a president), a dentist, whose wife, Maude, a member of the D.A.R., counted Jubal Early as a forefather. (When we got engaged she gave me an Emily Post book on etiquette, when we married a box of calling cards engraved Mrs. G. Douglas Eddy.) His father had a Masters Degree in Economics and was a special agent for the FBI.
So you see, Doug was an All American, a bit of a geek Beaver Cleaver, a blond, Presbyterian WASP who came from an affluent suburb of a large city. At the same time when we met he was considering changing the direction of his life, leaving engineering, quitting the ROTC drill team, not entering the Advanced Corps, and instead pursuing the ministry. He played folk guitar and he was a rebel to his family expectations, but a rebel with a cause.
I am the granddaughter of immigrants. My mother entered school barely speaking English. At that point I did not know my great grandparents names and had no idea where in Poland they were born. The only thing I knew about my heritage was learning to polka, and listening to romantic stories about my mother’s father. Jozef Kociencki was a nobleman who fought the Russians as a partisan, hid from their dogs in the dirt of an open grave, and was smuggled from the country in a coffin.
Speaking seven languages did not lead to a job in the United States and Jozef became a tailor. My other grandfather was a railroad conductor. My father made it to college. He was a radar engineer who worked on the DEW Line (Distant Early Warning Radar designed to reveal a nuclear attack by Russia). Through dint of hard work, my mother scraped together money for two years of college.
I was raised Roman Catholic in a small town and endured endless teasing with Polish jokes, so little surprise that total academic success was expected (dumb being almost a swear word). I complied, got a complete scholarship, never missed a class, made the Dean’s List, majored in English and wrote poetry. No rebel, I wanted to be a writer and planned to leave the University of Buffalo to attend the Newhouse School at Syracuse University.
Not much of a natural match, right?
But our courtship was intense and focused, after an odd start. I met him at a St. Patrick’s Day party. He didn’t register with me, but I did with him. He decided, virtually in that moment, that he was going to marry me.
Perhaps using tactics from his FBI father, Doug wooed me by taking me to the deserted Religious Club and spending three hours questioning me about the meaning of life and what I wanted to do with mine. Then he told me about the ministry and what he wanted to do with his. And there is where the match occurred, the perfect fit: We both wanted to change the world. You may laugh at that, or even shake your head when I tell you the first song we decided was “our song” was To Dream the Impossible Dream.
Someone once said, “Dreams are like stars, you may never touch them, but if you follow them they will lead you to your destiny.” There in the quiet of the Religious Club I found my destiny, and the two of us have pursued our dream ever since.
Have we changed the world? No. But we have reached for those impossible stars, together, and lived the life we promised each other so long ago.
Happy anniversary, Doug. I love you to the stars and beyond, and at the end of every prayer you are there.