This I Believe

Adley - Hydesville, California
Entered on April 9, 2007
Age Group: 65+
Themes: love

I believe in holding hands.

Corinne and I met in high school, in 1947 in debate class. We were 16. We started holding hands in public that year.

That doesn’t sound very special today. But 60 years ago, at our school, it was an almost spicy activity. A teacher who saw us after class, in the hall, with a loud “tch, tch” advised us that such behavior in public was not engaged in at L.A. High.

We persisted, both on and off campus. Hand in hand, from then on, we spent our days together, sharing dreams about the future course of our lives.

Holding hands, we started a joint bank account. Each week we took each other’s hand as we gave the deposit slip to the teller.

At UCLA we walked to common classes interdigitally, ate and studied together.

We married in 1952, and took frequent walks in the neighborhood, fingers entwined.

I was drafted into the army in 1953. It was the first time that we had been separated for so long, and when I was stationed at Ft. Ord, Corinne took a break from school so we could live off post, and walk together after hours.

We finished our education, started a law firm together, and, over time, had four children. There were times, after they became teens, when we would leave the house just to walk somewhere, hold each other’s hands, and breath in peace. On one such walk, through a neighborhood art and crafts fair in the mid 1970s, we came upon a print of a drawing by an artist named Sexton, showing an elderly couple walking away from the viewer, holding hands. They seem to be just pursuing life, albeit a bit slowly.

We were only in our 40s, but we related to the work and its inscription, “And we shall walk through all our days with love remembered and love renewed.” It has hung in our home ever since.

The kids grew and chose the independence of their own homes. Soon, we found ourselves with six grandchildren and arthritic joints, moving a bit carefully, and celebrating anniversaries numbering into the fifties. One day we went for a walk through a fern lined canyon within a redwood state park, with two of the grandchildren. Jessie, 15, borrowed my camera, and fell a bit behind as she photographed the beautiful area. Among the scenes she captured was one of Corinne and me, walking hand in hand away from the camera. Here was this elderly couple (we’re now 76), who seem to be just pursuing life, albeit a bit slowly.

It made an interesting picture for her. For us, it reinforced our understanding that the Sexton drawing represents the life we want to lead. and that we’ve achieved it. We shall walk through all our days, with love remembered and love renewed — holding hands.