Shannon here: Donn Taylor shares how he met his wife plus a chance to win a print copy of his latest Mystery, Murder Mezzo Forte. Comment or answer the question at the end of the post to enter the drawing. Deadline: July 16th, 11:59 pm central time. U.S. only. Here’s Donn:
The Match, the Flame, the Enduring Fire by Donn Taylor
We’ve all heard of “matches made in heaven,” but who has seen one? Mildred and I were blessed not only to see one but to live it. That match of ours kindled a flame that has endured for a lifetime. The Lord does move in mysterious ways, and neither Mildred nor I was aware of the forces that would bring us together.
In the summer of 1946 I worked at what was then a Baptist conference center in North Carolina. For a while then I dated a girl four years older than I was, Mildred’s older sister. (I was 16 then.) Each of us had other objectives, so we parted at the end of the summer. Working there again the next summer, I dated (among others) Mildred’s next older sister, who was only a year older than I. Again, neither of us thought of any commitment beyond the summer.
But then odd things happened. I’d lived in a small college town near Jackson, MS, where my father had taught for decades. But he moved to another small college town in Northeast Mississippi to become a college dean. It was the town where Mildred’s family lived. Nothing much happened for a while. For one thing, I was away at college most of the time and had little contact with my new home.
For another, the military draft resumed in 1948, and I became a reluctant participant. To avoid the longer draft period, I volunteered for one year of active Army service, followed by a four-year active reserve contract. The year passed with few consequences except my growing consciousness of the growing Cold War. Then I returned and renewed my college education at Ole Miss, some 30 miles from my family’s new home.
But things were happening to bring about The Meeting. (The world still looks like the ordinary world in the moments before lightning strikes.) At home during spring break in 1950 I met up with that second sister, who this time was accompanied by a yet younger sister named Mildred. The three of us hiked out to one of the renowned sites about a mile outside of town. There was nothing notable about that, but during the hike I began teasing Mildred. She didn’t give an inch: She teased right back and went me one better at every turn. She had spunk, and she was quick. I made a pun and she came back with a better one, with two more right behind it. She smiled and her eyes flashed. (That was the lightning bolt that struck my consciousness.) Better yet, I learned she was only two years younger than I (I was 20 by then) rather than the four years I’d originally thought. That meant she was not off limits for dating.
The Korean War began that summer, but I was deferred by being in senior ROTC. When Mildred entered college that fall we dated every now and then when I was home from Ole Miss. She made lively conversation on substantive subjects, and we enjoyed long talks over coffee in various cafes. She had more depth and more sincerity than any of the girls I’d ever dated. By Christmas I knew that she was The One, but I didn’t want to rush her. And by then she’d let me know she enjoyed my company.
We believe the Lord again intervened. In January, I was at home between semesters, and she stayed at the college to work. Then came one of the worst snows that region had ever known. Power lines snapped and roads were closed. We were snowbound. For more than a week we were trapped in a winter wonderland without outside contacts. So we were together mornings and afternoons, and in the evenings we dated by candlelight and firelight (yes, we had a fireplace) in my parents’ living room. The snow was one miracle, but the fact that we never tired of our conversations and companionship was another. By the time the snow melted (honest, no help from us!) we’d shared our first kiss and were engaged.
So we were blessed with the most romantic of beginnings. But the love God granted us then endured through four children, two wars, and innumerable crises. It endured for 61 years, seven months, and four days until the Lord called Mildred home. It still endures. I continue alone, warmed by those memories of love, waiting until the Lord in His own good time allows me to join her there.
About Donn: Donn Taylor led an Infantry rifle platoon in the Korean War, served with Army aviation in Vietnam, and worked with air reconnaissance in Europe and Asia. Afterwards, he earned a PhD in English literature (Renaissance) and for eighteen years taught literature at two liberal arts colleges. His poetry is collected in his book Dust and Diamond: Poems of Earth and Beyond. His fiction includes a light-hearted mystery, Rhapsody in Red, and its sequel, Murder Mezzo Forte. He has also published a historical novel, Lightning on a Quiet Night (a Selah Awards finalist), and two suspense novels, Deadly Additive and The Lazarus File. He is a frequent speaker at writers’ groups and conferences. He lives near Houston, TX, where he continues to write fiction and poetry, as well as essays on writing, ethical issues, and U.S. foreign policy. Learn more and connect:
About the book – Murder Mezzo Forte:
He is a reclusive history professor with musical hallucinations, she a headstrong professor of religion, a converted Wiccan. Earlier, they solved a campus murder, but now police say they formed two-thirds of an illicit love triangle with a newly-murdered female colleague and they’re probably guilty of her murder. A leak of the alleged scandal to the college administration threatens their jobs. Their desperate attempt to prove themselves innocent of the triangle and the murder plunges them into a tangle of unsavory corporate relationships among college trustees. And it puts their lives in danger from a mysterious criminal organization that seems to have tentacles everywhere.
Can this ill-matched pair’s stumbling efforts succeed against the entrenched forces of the police, the college’s incompetent administration, and that powerful but unseen criminal organization? If not, they may end up unemployed, in prison, or suffering a fate much worse . . .
Can’t wait for the drawing? Purchase now: Murder Mezzo Forte
Question for Readers: What would you do if you were falsely accused of being part of a love triangle, and your accuser said there was concrete evidence of your involvement?