I can’t let too many days go by without proclaiming the Heart Hinge love of my life–Don Taylor. And with these beautiful early autumn days, I am reminded of an October a whole 36 years ago, when I first fell in love.
It was our college years, and I was very academic-minded. Don: not so much. So even though he thoroughly entertained me and made me laugh and treated me like gold, it never occurred to me that we’d be wed one day. The mornings had grown chilly, but by the time the warm sunlight had streaked through the red-and-orange leaves that particular afternoon, I was ready to take a break from school and drink in some scenery. Don, having not-much-else-to-do, was always happy to oblige. Like me, he didn’t see a future for us. He says he just wanted to hang out with me “long enough to figure me out.” Good thing I’m a mystery, I guess.
Anyway, we climbed into his pickup, and off we headed toward some winding tree-lined hills. According to my memory, the last time we’d driven somewhere together, he’d run out of gas. So I reminded him to fuel up, whereupon he lightheartedly assured me it was all taken care of.
But alas! We’d only traveled a couple of miles when a bumpity-bump sound let us know we now had a flat tire. I was thinking, “Is this for real?!” My annoyance deepened when I learned the spare was in the truck, but not the jack to put it on with. About the time he called his roommate for help, I decided it was the last time I was hanging out with this guy. Of course the roommate couldn’t possibly just come by himself; he had to bring a gaggle of friends. I would say I was humiliated, but the truth is that I had not yet attached myself to Don to make it feel like our problem. I just separated myself and stood back and let it be his problem.
It was then that he taught me something, and I came to admire his character so deeply that I had to take a second look. He motioned me over, he and his friend still wrestling with the lug wrench. “Hey,” he said, “will you get my wallet from the truck and walk over to that donut place on the corner? We need to get them all sodas to thank them for helping out.”
He had about three bucks in there, and I fished around in my pocket for a contribution as well, relieved to have a reason to walk away from the crowd. Sticking my head in the donut shop, I read the sign listing donuts at about a dime a piece, while sodas were closer to a dollar each. So I walked back to Don and said, “How about I buy donuts for everyone? That’s way cheaper!” He looked at me like I was totally crazy. “They don’t need donuts. They need drinks, it’s hot!” Well, I didn’t appreciate being corrected. But it was his money (mostly) so I did as he requested. Neither he nor I could afford anything for ourselves, which further solidified my irritation at the whole situation. But as I handed the ice cold drinks out to the grateful recipients, I realized something–this guy cared not at all about himself. He wasn’t about to go along with my great-and-practical idea of offering the token Thank You by giving out a few glazed donuts. He was addressing their needs. And why would anything else matter?
Over the years I’ve come to love this man and to learn many things from him. I wanted to build my life exactly around someone with that kind of heart. It was that autumn day that I recognized he had those traits that meant the most to me, and I absolutely love him more than ever.