Almost every week we hear stories of families breaking up, with bitter custody battles and animosity on all sides. Many years ago newspaper columnist Bob Considine told a different kind of story of a family breakup. It’s one that bears retelling.
Edith and Karl Taylor had been married for 23 years. They had a marriage that seemed to overflow with love. Whenever Karl was out of town on business, he wrote daily letters and sent small gifts to Edith. In 1950 Karl accepted a government assignment to work in Okinawa for several months. The time dragged for Edith as she waited to hear from Karl. But this time no gifts came and the few letters she received informed her that he must stay a few weeks—or months—longer.
Finally, after weeks of silence a letter came that changed her world: “Dear Edith, I wish there were a kinder way to tell you that we are no longer married . . . ’’ Karl had fallen in love with a Japanese maid name Aiko. She was 19; Karl was 48. Karl got a Mexican divorce through the mail and married Aiko.
Edith thought about it constantly, but she could not hate Karl. She even understood how it could happen. A lonely man—who sometimes drank too much—and a poor girl. Even though Karl loved Aiko, Edith believed that he had not stopped loving her. One day, she thought, he will come back.
And so an unusual correspondence began. Edith wrote regularly to Karl and he wrote back. One letter announced a coming baby. Marie was born in 1951 and Helen in 1953. Edith sent gifts to the children. Karl kept her informed about their lives. Edith went through the motions of living in America, but her spirit lived in Okinawa with Karl.
Then came the worst letter: Karl was dying of lung cancer. He was filled with fear about what would happen to Aiko and the girls. Hospital bills had taken the money he had saved to send them to school in America. Edith knew that she could give Karl one last gift—peace of mind. She wrote him that if Aiko were willing, she would raise Marie and Helen. After Karl’s death Aiko tearfully sent her children to her “Dear Aunt Edith.”
Edith loved being a mother to a three-year-old and a five-year-old. The girls grew and were happy. But Edith was 54 years old and would be nearing 70 before they were grown. During a bout with pneumonia, she realized she had to do one more thing for Karl: she must bring Aiko to America. But the immigration list was full.
She wrote Bob Considine who described her situation in his column. Through the prayers and petitions of many, Congress passed a special bill. And in 1957 Aiko Taylor came to America. Edith nervously met the plane. But the frail Japanese girl clutching the railing was more than nervous. She was terrified. Edith called her and Aiko rushed into her arms. And Edith prayed, “Help me to love this girl, as if she were part of Karl come home. I prayed for him to come back. Now he has—in his two little daughters and in this gentle girl that he loved. Help me, God, to know that.”
Aiko, Helen, Marie, and Edith had a good life together. And Edith wrote that although “God has taken one life I loved so dearly, He has given me three others to love. I am so thankful.”
I never read that story dry-eyed. Each time I think again: was Edith Taylor’s an unusual—even impossible—kind of love? Or, is it not only possible but what should be expected of Christian love? The kind of love that when sinned against doesn’t strike back. The kind of love that forgives despite the pain inflicted. The kind of love that heals the offense by reaching out in love to the offender.
The kind of love Jesus Christ demonstrated to us all.
© 2012 by Vicki Huffman
Vicki Huffman is the author of two Christian non-fiction books and a Christian-based novel. Two of her books are currently available through amazon.com. To read the first chapter of her novel A Secret Hope at no cost, follow here.