“Young love, first love, filled with true devotion…”* Glimpses of memories linger from sixth grade at Passaic Christian School of a former farm girl whose family had moved back to city life in Clifton, NJ. It was where life began for her, and where her father’s Dutch immigrant family had lived since the Great Depression era of the 1930s. She was tall at 5’7” in sixth grade, tallest student in the school actually. With a natural springing high jump, long arms and legs, she had the strength to punch the ball hard to beat everyone at tetherball – including one classmate in particular. Poor guy! He simply gave up and walked away the last time they played. But she must have made an impression. After making their silhouettes in art class, he brushed the nose of his next to hers saying, “Eskimo kiss!”, and I was smitten.
Getting out of his seat for an inquisitive peek out the window one day, our teacher said, “Curiosity killed the cat!” to which he immediately replied, “But satisfaction brought it back!” I loved his quick wit. Once a week that spring until school was out for the summer, he walked me home after classes. One time, he stopped, moved a cinderblock away from a garage door, and positioned me next to it as he stepped up. Looking down, he exclaimed, “There! Now I’m taller than you!”
We carry many special memories in our hearts as we travel through life. And, as we glimpse back through the window of time and recall days of long ago, fragments return of treasured days. We’ve held onto dreams and hopes, we’ve made mistakes that we regret, apologized, moved on and matured. Yet, first love remains with its sweet simplicity and priceless memories… a tender young love.
In 2018, my mother’s first beau sought her out. After visiting her nephews on their farm, he was able to contact me and arrange a visit to see my Mom at the nursing home. Telling me she had left an impact on his life, he made amends. They had a wonderful visit, a special time of reminiscing. All those years ago, they’d met at the county fair in Cobleskill, NY. As farmers, they had a similar background, living not too many miles apart. They kept steady company through the end of high school and a bit beyond for about 3-4 years. He loved racing on the local track, known for a fast reputation which broke their relationship.
Another young man, Ralph, pursued a beautiful girl with a penchant for fast driving... and he asked a friend who that young woman was as she sped by, actually late for work! Soon she knew this farmer was “the right one” for her as they spent many a Saturday night square dancing, getting to know each other better. The following spring, they married. And 11 months later, I arrived as the oldest of six.
In seasons of time, young love made itself known once again. When a tall, dark and handsome young man saw her for the first time, it was love at first sight for him. Still, it took over a year for Ed to gather the courage to ask that pretty girl out on a date. And I fell in love with this gentle, caring, humorous, tall farmer with a strong faith in God who was determined to do as much as possible despite his vision limitations. He told me that if I ever felt sorry for him, then I didn’t belong at his side. And we shared our hearts and filled our life with young love and true devotion… meant to last a lifetime, shortened by the limitations of life that no one can predict.
Yet, there is a love far deeper than any of our tender loves… a love that lasts far longer than our earthly loves… because our “God loves us deeply [and] is full of mercy” (Ephesians 2:4) Our God has tenderly loved us from before we even were born…words which Israel’s King David penned that our heartfelt praise can echo: “You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made… My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139: 13-16) No matter our past, no matter the cost, our “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
Happy Valentine’s Day!!
A Tender Young Love…
Linda A. Roorda
A tender young love from days long ago
Held in the heart as memories smile
From the depth of care to the pain of loss
Felt in the hands together held tight.
A tender young love never forgotten
Still tucked away in pages of yore,
Reflecting upon the days of old
That gently carry the heart’s awaking.
A tender young love of silent reverie
The sheltered moments in passage of time
That pause to reflect on life together
Sharing sweet dreams and heart-felt caring.
A tender young love that sparkled within
And lit the world with eyes shining bright
A focused adoration so well understood
But lost too soon to the whims of life.
A tender young love to always treasure
As I hold your heart in memories dear
Your wit and wisdom with hearty laughter
A voice from the past where our dreams come true.
“Young Love” sung by Sonny James, written by Ric Cartey, Carole Joyner.