Tiny Love Stories: ‘The Schoolhouse Taught Me What Marriage Didn’t’

Tiny Love Stories: ‘The Schoolhouse Taught Me What Marriage Didn’t’

My wife died in 1991. Her best friend and I grew close in mourning. That blossomed into love. But was it a good match? And so soon, just months later? After a Chinese dinner, we opened our fortune cookies. Hers: “He likes to flirt, but toward you his intentions are honorable.” Mine: “You or a close friend will be married within a year.” Married 32 years now, she struggles with cognition, and has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. On a trip before that diagnosis, I stopped alone at a Thai diner. My fortune: “Embrace the change that is coming.” Love abides.— David B. Schock

I dismissed the 1909 two-room schoolhouse when I first saw it. T-shirts were stuffed in the rafters. Rainwater pooled on linoleum floors. It smelled of cat urine and mice. But something brought me back there. Newly divorced, I too felt ragged and broken down. Maybe that’s why I decided to make an offer. Swearing off men, I dove into homeownership. It hasn’t always been easy but, 10 years later, we are both transformed: sturdy and proud. The schoolhouse taught me what marriage didn’t: to trust my instincts and take agency in my life. — Sarah Gundle

It was surprising, given our opposing natures, that my dad’s unsolicited relationship advice was always spot on. He was the person to tell me to wait, that she’d come around. I kept the faith. Six months later, he was right. And now, two years into our relationship, she and I visit my parents. My mom takes joy in pointing out my dad’s and my girlfriend’s similarities — their frugality, loyalty and grit — to my chagrin. I guess faith is a good quality to have in abundance. — Julia Chin

The drip, drip, drip of a wet plastic bag takes me back to childhood chores. Mum would stand over me as I swished produce bags through bubbles in the kitchen sink. Her rough hands guided mine, teaching me like her mother, a child of Polish-Ukrainian immigrants, had taught her. We lost our language and last name, but this family tradition remained. I carried it with me to my homes in France, England, Australia. When cancer pinned mum to a chair, I poured my helplessness into washing her abandoned bags, pegging them on a string to dry, folding them into memories. — Kirsten Fogg

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