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Encounters 10, For All Valentines

February 12, 2017

Love that is not a fancy, but is a commitment… Martha Washington knew it, and George was inspired by it. Their story takes us back into history, but my story is a work in progress. When my story ends, I will not be here to record it, and it is so ordinary that biographers will avoid it. Not so with Martha who destroyed her husband’s letters so they wouldn’t encumber his deeds. Her deeds are not often considered, but they are numerous, and we will write more about them after this intermission.

Let’s reexamine Martha. She was a good wife to Daniel Parke Custis, the  inheritor of the Custis estate, twice her age, who defied his father to marry her. She grieved when he died, leaving her a wealthy widow with two small children: but she carried the burdens of widowhood quietly until she met the tall, handsome warrior, George Washington and fell into love.

LOVE! What is it that traps us into relationships? It starts with fancy – an attraction, and Shakespeare put the question this way == “Tell me where is fancy bred – or in the heart or in the head? How begot? How nourished? Reply. Reply.”

Martha fancied George. I fancied John. Was it Love? It began with a delicious physical attraction, a desire for intimacy. Then Circumstances threw her weight around, and that attraction settled into something more comfortable as we faced problems with lives blended together. John and I have a song when things go wrong, “I never promised you a rose garden.” More things went right than wrong.

Like Martha, we moved about a lot. She had never been more than 20 miles from her home in Virginia when George invited her to join him at winter camp in Massachusetts, and then she followed him to winter camps throughout the Revolution. I followed John’s career to Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey, back to Ohio, to California. That’s what wives in love with their husbands do – make places into homes.

Martha and I had this advantage in love – out love was requited, returned by our spouse. I wrote this verse about love and added it to my stories – To John –

True love glides on wings of gold./ It pierces the heart and enters the soul./ Love is insistent, it can’t be deterred./ Love is a smile, a glance or a word./ Look for bright cheeks, for smiles that quiver./ See the shy glance that the eyes deliver./ Love flies ‘neath the moon and explodes in the brain./ Love transforms the life of the lover, ’tis plain./ Love releases the bard, the poet who shows it, to the chosen loved one, who’s happy to know it.

The bard ended his verse about fancy, – “tis engendered in the eyes. With gazing fed, and fancy dies in the cradle where it lies. Let us all sing fancy’s knell. I’ll begin it —Ding, Dong, Bell”

stay tuned –


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