Our long-time friend Norma Collins asked me to write Mauri’s and my love story for the February issue of a Youth for Christ newsletter. Here it is:
Love stories are like snowflakes—plentiful yet unique. Mauri and I enjoy telling our unique love story because it clearly illustrates God’s faithfulness to us through good times and hard times. You’d need a cup of coffee and probably lunch if I were to share the whole story. Even if we had enough time and space, no amount of words could express, for example, the affirmation I felt when my first mother-in-law, having recently lost her only child to cancer, gave me a wink of approval after suggesting I pursue a relationship with “that man you sing with.”
“Mauri and I were friends in high school.” That’s what I tell people unfamiliar with our history. The “romantics” often ask if we dated. (No, but there was that one kiss at Winona Lake at the YFC convention.) We actually met as co-members of a startup performance group called “The Spurrlows”—I, as a singer; Mauri, as a trombonist. This experience led to involvement in early-morning YFC club meetings and YFC rallies, which eventually led to the unforgettable experience of serving together on a YFC Teen Team to Asia in 1964.
Between Mauri’s good memory and my good packratting, we’ve pieced together a decent representation of those days. Whenever we review it, we see God’s hand of care and blessing on us, both then and in what lay ahead. On our return from overseas, Mauri rode a train to Newberg, Oregon, to start his freshman year at George Fox College (now University). There he met, and eventually married, Margaret-Rose Williams. I took a job as receptionist at the Youth for Christ International office in Wheaton, where I met, and eventually married, Paul Carlson, advertising manager of Campus Life Magazine. Each couple added three children to the population. Through the years, the Macys and the Carlsons stayed connected through our annual Christmas letters and pictures.
Sadly, losing a spouse to cancer became another common bond Mauri and I shared. A year after Margaret-Rose died, Paul and I, with our younger son, Taylor, made the journey from our home in Michigan to Newberg for a church-related convention held on the George Fox campus. Of course, we looked up our friend Mauri, who invited me to sit at his studio piano to sing some of our old familiar duets, songs he and Margaret-Rose learned to sing together. We have pictures of that session, Paul behind the lens. Try to imagine how poignant those pictures are to us today. Little did we know!
Fast forward to the scene I described in the opening paragraph. In the months that separated Paul’s death from that of both of his parents (they were 88 and 89) we saw and felt other inclinations toward the idea that our friendly relationship might grow into, um, something more. I traveled to Oregon to allow us the necessary time to discern what our future might hold. We listened to our own hearts along with the input from our children and friends. Their resounding Yes! helped us move toward marriage.
Fairy tales end with “…and they lived happily ever after.” But we live in the real world where blended families have challenges. Ours is not perfect; it felt some bumps in the beginning but has blossomed into what I’d call nearly perfect. We’re still glowing from the precious time we had together as a family in the Colorado Rockies at Christmastime—another tangible affirmation of God’s great faithfulness to us.