Drawing on Love: Stored Secrets Come to Light

When we met, Cliff’s very first words to me were “Nice to see you again.”

My quick quip, “Nice to see you again too.”

But I’m getting ahead of my story. Way ahead . . .

* * *

During the months of June and July, I published a series of posts about moving from our large family home to a smaller abode. An earlier post discussed this move from my husband’s point of view: His Turn, an Artist Discards, Donates, and Discovers. I mentioned then that I may reveal later some of Cliff’s discoveries, unearthed drawings from an armoire that have not seen the light of day for literally decades.

I’m showing the first one on this post.

But first, some background . . .

Through the ingenuity of my Pennsylvania neighbor next door, Paul Mumma, I met Cliff, his college roommate, as a blind date on December 18, 1965, a fact I recorded in an entry with many embellishments in my journal. My iPhone says the day of the week that year was a Saturday.

On what turned out to be a double date, Paul, his girlfriend Betty, Cliff and I drove down Anchor Road on the way to the education building of a small church which the four of us intended to decorate for Christmas. On a blackboard in one of the Sunday School rooms Cliff first revealed his artistic talent by drawing a Santa Claus, mostly for my benefit, I surmise. (Sorry, the Santa Claus has been erased.)

A few days later, he had me pose in the living room of my parents’ home for many minutes. He explained that he was drawing my portrait. I sat very still for a long, long time.

Cliff finally flipped the paper to expose the drawing. I was aghast when I saw what the clever artist had been playing with on paper for forty-five minutes: He had morphed my then-slender figure into a porky jungle animal with a cute blue bow.

Elephant drawing_7x7_72(1)

He laughed heartily when he saw my shocked reaction.

After the gasp, all ll I could manage was an incredulous giggle. “You got me,” I thought.

The next week was Christmas. Then I heard him tell me, “I think I am falling in like.”

Really? What’s that like, I wondered.

About a week later,  Cliff drew a proper picture of me.


The Drawing


He drew a good likeness of the serious me and prophesied my future, I think, by exaggerating my pile of dark hair and miniaturizing my prayer cap.

He signed it, Love, Cliff.

Yes, Reader, I married him.


Reader, I married him.  A quiet wedding we had: he and I, the parson and clerk, were alone present.    ~  Jane Eyre, Ch. 38, C. Brontë


Our wedding was not quiet. And more than four people were present.

A Card

A few weeks ago when Cliff pulled out piles of papers and other drawings including the one above, a small bag fell out from one of the crevices in the same art armoire. The envelope was dusty but well-preserved after years in hiding. Inside he found an anniversary card he apparently had bought in his travels and had been intending to give me about 10-15 years ago, so he imagines. Time had preserved the lacy layers. But he added a fresh, new message.



Dear Reader, have you ever found lost or long-buried mementoes of sentimental value?

Thank you for adding your discoveries here. 

By the way, our move became a reality yesterday, August 9, in case you are wondering when all this hoopla has culminated. Next week, prepared in advance: Summer on Anchor Road: Sights, Smells, & Sounds


58 thoughts on “Drawing on Love: Stored Secrets Come to Light

  1. Oh my! This is so sweet, Marian. It’s a perfect antidote to the mood I’m in reading the news.
    It’s so wonderful that you have all these mementoes.
    I LOVE Cliff’s portrait of you. (And you still look much the same!)
    The elephant is cute, too. 🙂

    All the best in your new home where I’m sure you are already making memories.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We feel like a pair of Dodo birds right now – not making many memories at the moment but glad to have the move in our rear view mirror. We have floated a few metaphors, but right now the image of climbing Mt. Everest with a too-heavy backpack comes to mind. Thank you for supercharging these posts with your early morning energy, Merril. I thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It is so wonderful to find these things from the past. I don’t understand folks who throw everything away. I know you can’t keep it all but a few things like these are so special and are great reminders of the past. I found mom’s letters to dad when they were courting in 1946/47. They are very cute and show much of her personality as a young woman of 18. I gave them to my daughter for safe keeping. Hope the move goes as smoothly as possible. xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I threw lots of stuff away but not the letters. My sister Jean has given a number of her letters from the 1950s and 60s from relatives (and even our pastor Martin R. Kraybill) to the Mennonite Historical Society in Lancaster, PA. They value highly such donations. Handwritten memorabilia from this era will be as hard to come by perhaps as medieval illuminated lettering since digital messages have replaced manual communication. How wonderful your “saved” letters carry the scent/personality of your parents – even the DNA, I imagine.

      What a legacy to pass on, Darlene!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You really had no choice after that serious portrait, did you? And what a sense of humor in the elephant (I notice it wasn’t a donkey :-). Smart Cliff.

    Another great post, and many tantalizing hints about future posts.

    I think Cliff needs to draw another picture of you with Rosie the Riveter’s muscular arm as the inspiration.

    Many blessings on the other side of moving day, Marian. I know the work isn’t finished!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Shirley, you can be sure Cliff will read your comment here, a perfect antidote/suggestion to the rigors of moving. Drawing recharges his batteries the way reading/writing recharge yours and mine. Right now all batteries at this residence have a pretty low reading. I honestly don’t know how you survived moves in the double digits, especially since you are a book collector, like me. But it moving means following one’s dreams or assisting others’ – so be it.

      Of course, our age, the heat, and the fact that it was both a business and a personal move took a toll. Cliff says “I’m telling people we’re not moving again for at least 37 more years!” 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Fabulous find – your grandmother’s journal, both historical and sentimental in value. I wonder whether you have written on your blog about them. I’ve been haphazard in keeping up with your posts lately. Maybe things will stabilize soon. I do know you are under contract for your next book. Thrilling. Jill!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ha Ha Marian! Thanks for the laugh! I would have fallen head over heels in love/like/love/like immediately! And the 2nd drawing is precious. I love the anniversary card – I can almost touch and feel the lace.

    I’m having a few more shelves built next week to put all those precious mementoes somewhere safe and accessible. I’m nostalgic for it all – your post has reminded me.

    Happy settling! There’s a full moon coming up in the next week –


    1. You are such an astute reader, appreciating all the sensory details, intuitive for a writer like you. Your comment about the full moon reminded me of Frank Sinatra’s rendition of “Blue Moon,” precious and sentimental as they come. Thanks, Susan!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. What a beautiful tribute to the love you and Cliff have shared, Marian. Love the story, drawings and resurrected anniversary card. You have unearthed a treasure trove in your move and we are the beneficiaries of your precious memories. Thank you! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kathy, this is the most taxing thing we have been through in a long while. On a stress inventory, it must be in the top ten. However, keeping in contact with friends here is helping me acclimate our new place because it feels familiar.

      Learning different rhythms and acquiring a new sense of place is our next challenge. But you know all about challenges, Kathy. Your high spirits are an inspiration to us all. I think of you daily and lift you up in prayer . . . even see you typing just now with the fingers of your left hand. Bless you!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh Marian, your prayers are greatly appreciated. I’ll send a few along to you and Cliff as you navigate your way through this challenging transition. It’s something I know we need to be doing. I do believe moving is right up there on the stress scale. Here’s to a smooth transition my dear friend.😊

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Transitions – oh, sometimes they are toilsome and tiresome as we both are experiencing just now. I raise my candle/glass/hand (Take your pick) to brighter days ahead for each of us. We have to get those memoirs written!

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, even the movers noticed. I don’t think they move people with an art collection very often. And, yes, Jenn, it’s a keeper, but hard to preserve as it was done on newsprint, not very durable. Thank goodness for digital imaging!


    1. You are right, Carol. I couldn’t. If two words could define my Mennonite upbringing they would be straight-laced and naive. Except for the laughs I heard in Grandma’s kitchen and jokes from a few light-hearted relatives, the tone at home was very serious. Obviously, I intuitively recognized what was missing, and took the bait hook, line, and sinker.


  6. I like Cliff’s sense of humor, but I love your acceptance of his sense of humor even more! Some girls would have been hurt or mad at the picture of the elephant! But you were gracious and laughed with him. This is what makes a good marriage great! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for our insight, Anita. Actually, I was too naive then to be hurt or mad. Stunned would be the better word. I agree, along with strength of character, a sense of humor goes a long way toward smoothing out the bumps in the road.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. You have an eye for art too. I love how you are blending text with photography and justly getting recognition for it on your own blog. Yes, they are treasures indeed – thanks, Linda!


  7. Marian, I shared this post with my husband and we both had a good laugh! He especially identified with the misplaced anniversary card. What a great post! There are so many wonderful stories out there, but you have to know how to tell them! You do a great job!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed this – and shared it with your hubby. I wonder if he is prone to misplace and forget things too. It sounds like you are a great (and complementary) team.


  8. That drawing of the real you is very glamorous. I love finding things like this and am looking forward to days I can go through things and rediscover them. A colleague is moving right now also and she was aghast to find a fanny pack (remember those?) that she saved from a 1997 Mennonite youth convention and moved with her to California, to Indiana, to D.C. and to Ohio, now wondering why she found it that special. That happens too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve found some old and questionable items too – many with a moldy finish. Ugh! I thought I could never part with my lesson plans and teaching files some that smell musty, but they have been consigned to the recycling bin. There they shall stay.

      You are right about the “saving” part. We were different people then. Our values and interests have changed. Sometimes I can’t believe I collected fancy napkins in a big box. Other girls were doing it then, so I joined in. In retrospect, I guess it showed an emerging appreciation for the “fancy.”

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I believe the L. Lewis means Lora. Right? Happy to see you in this space and thrilled we have reconnected after all these years. Before I brought my retirement scrapbook to the new place, I re-read your card and heartfelt message on pretty green paper. Whether you remember what you said or not, your sentiments touched my heart. Thank you – again!


  9. What a great post of new beginnings, in 1965 and new beginnings all these years later. More than that the great love and great sense of humor. Things that sad to say this generation may not experience.
    I laughed at the picture of the animal. Very cute by the way.
    When I met my husband to be, his first gift to me was a big stuffed elephant. Lucky for him I only weighed 125 at the time or I would have been offended.
    First I have never in my life liked stuff stuffed toys I always seen them as germs. I never gave them to my children to play with. My first response was is this a joke is there a gold bracelet or a diamond ring in this fat ugly thing.
    I’m searching not looking at his face. When I did not find any jewelry I looked up at him and saw his face red and embarrassed. I felt bad that I never stopped to think how self centered I was. Lesson learned for both of us. Not to be selfish or to think of myself. He never ever gave me a stuffed anything or an appliance for the home. Now he just takes the kids to pick up something for mom. Your children and grandchildren are blessed to have the example of love you have for each other.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Even taking the kids to pick up something for “Mom” is a lesson in giving. Like many other men, maybe Pablo doesn’t feel confident about gift giving. Yet he’s practicing “It’s more blessed to give than to receive!” I appreciate your reading and taking time to comment. That’s a gift from you to me and I say “Thanks!”


    1. I don’t remember seeing this drawing since I first met Cliff. Yes, it is truly a treasure. “What other secrets are in hiding?” I ask.

      Thanks for broadcasting this on Twitter as you so faithfully do, my friend!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I am a sentimental old fool because reading your post Marian , has sent me in foods of tears because it’s so beautiful …yes sheer floods of tears of joy .😓😓
    I think the first drawing is so funny to get you sitting for that cute elephant to be finely produced tee hee…and drawing of you later so beautiful I ‘d never want to take it from my grasp …and what a romantic wedding . Oh I’m all over the place now . What did you ask I’ve forgot . Hope you have that glass of something you fancy in your new home …when you do think of me blabbering 😪😪😪😪🤗🤗🤗

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It doesn’t matter what I asked, your reply here is right “on point” – glad you liked it. There were ducks floating on the teeny, tiny lake behind our house last evening. I can see already we will be relaxing here soon with the moving business behind us, except for the unpacking which we can do in stages. Hugs back to you, Cherry! 🙂


  11. Another loving post. You and Cliff are so fortunate to have a continuing romance. As you may remember, I found a love note from Vic on the eve of my TEDx talk and wrote a piece called “A Love Note from Beyond.” He often wrote me notes, but this was an especially supportive one, so I must have saved it by sticking it in a hidden pocket in my wallet. I don’t remember how it got there, but that’s a guess. I found the note six years after his death, the message I needed right then. His notes in the margins of books feel like love notes and occasionally they refer to me or to our relationship. I’m sorting through my house (as you know) at a slow pace. It’s almost impossible to get rid of anything with Vic’s handwriting, but I’m discarding some things if they don’t have historical or emotional value. What will I do with yellow pads full of physic’s equations that are Greek to me and our sons? I haven’t decided. Fortunately he tossed most of these problem solving pages before he died. Sigh…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. To refresh my memory, I went back and re-read this post and my comment and question “Did you tuck the note in your bra?” Of course you answered that in a profound sentence with the word “heart” at its core.

      When I saw the note I noticed the extra bold E and the signature V this time.
      Eternal Vows?
      I like that . . . 🙂


    1. What a job, Fiona, as you well know. It was way more energy-sapping than we imagined, but we are happy we’ve made the effort. I can imagine living here for many more years. Thank you for the good wishes.


  12. Nice memory share Marian. I think it’s beautiful you keep these precious mementos. I have every card my husband has given me. And there are 3 shopping bags full! They’ll probably be with me till the day I’m no longer.
    And your husband is quite the artist! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I’m glad your sense of humor allowed you to get past the elephant and into a happy marriage! (I have to confess I would have had a hard time NOT being mortally offended by the elephant portrait, but you demonstrate the virtues and rewards of forgiveness!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Several agree with your “take,” Rebecca, including Marie below. As a plain Mennonite girl back then, I welcomed excitement in any form, even at my own expense. My new artist “friend” sized me up correctly: naive and gullible – ha!


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