To this day, I still can hear our childhood friends taunting us—“Steve and Linda sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in a baby carriage.”
Nice concept. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen in that order for Linda and me. By the time we made it to the altar our son was more than one year old and I had turned 18 three days earlier. Two months later, we celebrated Linda’s 19th birthday. The year was 1967.
The love didn’t come first either…at least not from me. It was more like teenage testosterone focused on a vulnerable young woman. Linda, standing at four-foot ten, was ninety pounds of captivating feminine proportion with a high-spirited personality. I was a loner—cool and quiet as a box of unlit matches.
In retrospect, I probably had all the right stuff to be a loving person, but growing-up in a dysfunctional family had destroyed almost all of my feelings except one—anger. Besides, I didn’t really believe love existed; even though I often heard the words just before my grandmother hung up the phone, or as we were leaving a relative’s house after a family gathering.
I certainly didn’t feel loved by anyone—that is until I met Linda. Even then I had doubts about love. Early in our relationship, she told me she fell in love with me on the very first day we met. I was blinded by that, and at that time, I didn’t know how to feel love, give love, or be a loving person. And I certainly couldn’t understand how or why she loved me. She told me she saw a loving soul buried under my cocky demeanor—the greaser attitude of the 60’s. It was my defense system, and it worked well at keeping others away. Nevertheless, she pushed into my softer side. How lucky for me that Linda possessed the gift to see beyond outward appearances, and could recognize the beauty and goodness in almost everyone. Continue reading