How do you write someone's love story? I often go into writing the story of two people's lives together with an overwhelming sense that I won't convey it quite right. I hear about these amazing moments, the beautiful memories of a life well lived, and the words sometimes don't really reflect what two people have felt and lived over their years together. Yet, as I sit and talk with Clarence and Kathryn Hutchings, I realize maybe perfection isn't necessary. These two wonderful people, who have invited me into their home, show me exactly what is needed to write their story … and that very simple thing is TRUE LOVE. It emanates from them as they glance at each other, and talk about their journey together.
Their story began nearly 70 years ago. In a soda shop, where Clarence, also known as "Red" for his once red locks, was a soda jerk, making real cherry cokes and tasty banana splits. That's where you would find Kathryn, a.k.a. Jeanette, on Friday nights, after football games. A friend of Jeanette's introduced them and you could say they hit it off right away. Clarence tells me Jeanette couldn't stay away. And the way these two smile at each other … I certainly believe it!
They were married November 4th, 1950 at St. Paul's Church and from the get-go, it became a wild ride. After they said "I Do", Jeanette fell down the stairs while they ran out of the church! While Jeanette ruined her hat and broke her shoes, she wasn't seriously injured. Just a few bruises and cuts. As they tell this story, their laughter fills the room. Thankfully, they have looked back on that moment and can laugh about it now!
Just a few short months after they were married, Clarence was drafted into the Army, and Jeanette learned she was pregnant with their first child. Because he was married and had a child, Clarence never had to go overseas. He told me many times how blessed he was to not have to leave his family. They were the most important and the way he talked about them, that was concrete truth.
They took chances. They traveled. Their life has been one great adventure, and I must tell you, I was mesmerized by their stories. They told me so many of them - about their adventures together. They've traveled to almost all 50 states and you could say, for many of them, they took the road less traveled. I loved hearing them talk about their life. You could really feel the moments they've shared - embracing their memories in every word.
As we continued to chat, I learned that Clarence was once part of the team who worked on the SR71 jet at the Bendix Corporation. He first started out as a trucker, but decided to learn more about calibration and aviation, even going back to school, which landed him the job of a lifetime!
Jeanette worked as a telephone operator at Indiana Bell, but later started her longtime career at the library. She's worked at many branches around the Michiana area, and recalls her favorite role was on the bookmobile! She retired after 30 years.
Over the years, Clarence has had quite a few health scares, but Jeanette has remained faithfully by his side, carrying him through each and every one. They told me that's how keeping it together over the years works - they care about each other and how each other feels, even when the going gets tough. Not to mention, their mutual respect for each other.
You might be asking yourself, what else is the key for this couple, of longevity and happiness? Communication! It's been the rock of their marriage and that is how they work together, even if they argue. Those arguments have never lasted long, and they help each other, through the good ... and through the bad.
As we were ending our time together, I really just had to sit back and smile at these two beautiful people, who so graciously invited me into their home, gave me many cups of coffee, and shared countless memories with me about their wonderful life together. There were countless times when they told me how fortunate they've been - and still are!
In our final few moments, Kathryn shared photo albums with me, filled with beautiful photographs of a life well lived, with wonderful adventures to last a lifetime! And as she rummaged through old photographs, Clarence pulled me aside to tell me one more time how amazing she was. There was a tear in his eye, and I couldn’t help but shed a few myself. Now that, is unequivocally, undeniably, true love.
Sometimes the greatest love stories are the ones that speak to you in moments, not things, or statuses, or successes … the real love story is how someone else can love another unconditionally … through all their messes and heartbreaks … through all the triumphs; the defeats. The "cracks" of this harsh life can start to come through, but when we are truly loved, those cracks often slowly mend. Because the truth is, when you love someone, you love all of them. The brokenness, the insecurities, the good, the bad, the ugly. That's why love is the most beautiful thing in the world; it can change your life. Help you become a better person, and with that, be able to love in return, even as you attempt to mend your own cracks. Grateful to see such a beautiful love that will most certainly leave a legacy.