An Unlikely Romance
Evelyn Donnell, La Grande
Poet since Childhood
Dr. Ed was a giant of man, although he stood only 5’2” in his stocking feet. Youngest son of Irish/English immigrants, when he entered a family of six strapping boys, all the tall genes were used up. His older brothers over-shadowed him. But Ed was born for kingship and mighty deeds. He was a singer of Irish ballads, an admirer of tall, stately women, a lover of the healing arts of his day; and good apple pie laced with fine brandy. He couldn’t resist a challenge!
Catherine, his future wife, wasn’t considered beautiful. But she possessed a figure so well proportioned, young men followed behind her, making appropriate whistles and comments. She once chuckled, “When they passed by me and got a look at my face, they took off like scaled cats!”
Young Catherine was a “No Nonsense Victorian” with an aquiline nose, skin dark as a gypsy’s, serious gray eyes that squinted from reading fine print and sewing cloths for her younger siblings. She was not easily approachable.
Dr. Ed thought her beautiful and a challenge! She was 6” taller than him. He was the “Little Captain” determined to gain control of a large, well appointed sailing ship. Coming from laboring people, he hung wallpaper at nights to pay for his medical education, lived frugally and earned a degree with honors. Professors and students loved his Irish humor, his unquenchable optimism.
After graduation he desired to marry and set up a practice. He pursued Catherine relentlessly, eliminating Tom, the young man who sang duets with her in the church choir and was obviously attracted. The competition faded after Dr. Ed growled, “I plan to marry her!” intimating they had an “understanding.” When Catherine learned of this she hissed, “You little runt! How dare you? Tom and I were secretly engaged.”
Two months later Dr. Ed and Catherine were publicly engaged, then married. Thus began sixty years of questionable domesticity with iron sharpening iron. Opposites do attract and can grow together during a lifetime of committed love. My grandparents, Ed and Catherine proved my point.