The year was 1918. One day, Alice Johnson exchanged smiles with a handsome older boy. She was excited to learn later that Herald was the brother of her classmate, Sibyl. And, as these things often happen, Sibyl told Alice that Herald liked her. Thus began their courtship. Herald took Alice for buggy rides (always escorted by her mother of course). They went to yard parties and box suppers.
By the next year, when Alice was 15, her mother said, “You are too serious about that boy. You must break up with him!” Ah, the infinite wisdom of parents who are often misguided in their attempts to thwart young love. When Herald heard the news of mother’s proclamation, he reacted by telling Alice “I think we should get married this weekend.” Alice thought this was a brilliant idea!
Herald came to the house on Saturday to pick up Alice and, naturally, her mother said she could not go anywhere with him. Herald told his sweetheart to walk out to the buggy with him and say good-bye. Herald got into the buggy, held out his hand to Alice and said “Let’s go.” There are single moments in a person’s life – moments in which a decision must be made. And that decision can change the course of the rest of a life And in that moment, young Alice chose love. She made the momentous decision to hop into the buggy with him. I am inspired by her ability to follow her heart and chose love, without fearing the censure of her parents.
Of course, there were a few immediate obstacles. First, Alice’s brother rode after them on horseback but was unable to catch the couple. Also, Alice had on an old dress since her mother had said she couldn’t get married. So she had to borrow Sibyl’s nice dress & coat to get married in. Then, they traveled 8 miles to the county seat in Neosho, Missouri. Upon arriving there, Alice had to lie and say that she was 18 years old (not 15).
Life is a serious of decision points where we can turn down a path and end up in a totally new direction. How do you make major life decisions? Do you follow your heart? Or, are some of your decisions based on fear? Sometimes we move toward a positive goal and sometimes we run away from a place, a person, or a fear. Marianne Williamson said “Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we learned here.” I aspire live as Alice did, making decisions from a place of love & joy. I believe that when you follow your heart to what feels right, wonderful things always follow.
Despite the perilous beginning, Alice & Herald were married for 29 years and had 6 children. Sadly, two of them died as infants from pneumonia but the other four have lived long happy lives. I think the couple would have been married for many more decades if Herald had not died at age 50. I believe he was Alice’s one true love.
Alice’s optimism and belief in love would continue throughout her life. She lived to be nearly 93 years old and she had 4 more husbands. Five husbands might sound bad, but she only divorced twice and two more husbands died. Her daughter, Helen, was absolutely mortified if anyone found out that her mom had been married 5 times. I always thought that 5 marriages was really admirable. To me, it demonstrated the essence of Alice’s character – a decision to live all of her life guided by love and joy.
Life is a serious of single moments which can be lived with passion and love or can be lived with sadness and fear. The choice is always yours to make. And a single moment can change the course of a life. A decision to follow one’s heart, to choose love. Herald reached down his hand and invited Alice with “Let’s go.” And where would I be today if my great grandmother hadn’t jumped into that buggy? Now is the time to decide how you will live all the moments of your life.