If you’re a regular reader of Forsyth Woman, as so many of the magazine’s readers are, you may recognize the book review reprised below. We’re running it again – with additional comments at the end – in celebration of our mom, Marianne Schuler’s, 80th (!) birthday. Enjoy!
“A goal is a dream with a deadline.” ~ Chinese proverb
If you ask him how he’s doing, the answer is always the same: “Fantastic.” If you want to know how things are going, she’ll constantly tell you, “Fantastic.” If this answer were forced or untrue, you would sense it right away, but it never is. Marianne and Charlie Schuler have found a way to look at life which makes them feel fantastic and happy to be alive. Much of this is due to their vibrant faith, much to the knowledge of a life well lived. “Well lived” has meant for them a life filled with adventure and service, but a life which only became a reality after long years of planning and waiting.
Marianne and Charlie met while both were employed at Western Electric in Winston-Salem in 1970. Working together, they gradually fell in love and married in 1982. It was the second marriage for both. As “goal-oriented people” (Charlie’s phrase), they then immediately began planning their life together. They continued working until each could retire early, then sailed to “all the nice places” on a sailboat which would become their home. The latter part of this decision might have taken some persuading on Charlie’s part, since neither of them had ever sailed long-distance in a sailboat before! Nevertheless, as “dreams with deadlines” often do, the first part developed a glitch right away. When Charlie retired, Marianne discovered to her dismay that she would have to work another two years in order to retire along with him! So, Charlie rolled up his sleeves again and worked those extra two years as well, just to attain their goal as originally planned. On the last day of summer, 1982, their new life began – they departed on a week-long trip from Sea Bright, NJ, in a 25-foot sloop named “Seagull” with no destination in mind, “except to fulfill a long-time dream.” What followed over the years were many adventures at sea, some of them exciting and even dangerous (to the eye of the landlubber), but most of them tranquil and infinitely relaxing. These included voyages in various-sized sailboats (the last no less than 42-feet long) up and down the eastern seaboard from New York City to the Bahamas. All in all, they left more than 20,000 miles of water in their wake during years of two-person sailing. They lived on the longer boat for four years until they finally found the perfect home port in Little River, SC (near Myrtle Beach). There they built a house when the first of their six grandchildren came along. During summers they spent time with the local Power Squadron, teaching and honing their sailing skills; during winters they sailed to the Bahamas. In between sailing trips, they visited the non-navigable destinations they had always wanted to see – the Grand Canyon, Hawaii, Portugal, Australia, Alaska, Costa Rica, Mexico, the Panama Canal, Uganda, Israel, Greece and Germany.
While at sea, the couple, especially Charlie, had also embarked on a spiritual journey paralleling their travels in the world. Charlie had read religious works for years without becoming completely convinced. Then, one perfect night on entering Chesapeake Bay, he knelt down in the cabin of their boat and told Marianne he now believed in Jesus. Still, he remained a stranger to the Church. When they had married, Marianne, a churchgoer since childhood, had decided she was not going to sit home every Sunday morning and went go to church without Charlie, even if she had to sit alone. For a time, she did just that. Gradually, this arrangement began to trouble Charlie – who was his vivacious wife sitting with every Sunday? In the end, his worry began to get the best of him. He got up one Sunday, dressed for church and announced that he was going with her. For both of them, that was the start of a dedicated Christian life of faith and service which has taken them nearly around the world. The Lord does indeed work in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform.
The Schuler’s have compiled their adventures in a recent book, The Schuler Saga; Adventures of Charlie and Marianne, which they have self-published for their family, especially the grandchildren. You can order this book about their “fantastic” adventures at www.Lulu.com, by typing in “THE SCHULER SAGA.” If you would like to share sea stories, faith journeys or anything else with Charlie and Marianne, their email address is Charlie34@sc.rr.com. This is truly a book for those who “love adventure, love sailing and love God.”
We’re ecstatic to report that these two are still going strong and doing their thing. In honor of Marianne’s 80th birthday we wanted to revisit their published story and then highlight some specific “Mamaw” moments.
To spend time with Marianne is to know what it means when someone talks about a “glass-half-full” attitude. Everyone gets a smile, whether you’re a busy clerk at the store, a happy child in a stroller, a grumpy flight attendant or an impatient driver. You don’t have to earn it from her; you just have to deal with it. In fact, that’s one of her favorite phrases – “Deal with it!” Marianne has no time to be drawn into your latest micro-drama about politics or how you’re feeling awfully “hard done by.” Don’t get me wrong, she’s totally empathetic to people’s problems (and even if she wasn’t, she’s southern enough to fake it). You can count on a shoulder to lean or cry on, but what she mostly likes to give is encouragement, hugs and lots of laughs and smiles.
It’s also worth pointing out as she clocks in at 80, that she hasn’t lost any of her spunk. If there’s a project to be done, party to be planned, country to be explored or a visit to a (fellow) senior to be made; she’s on it. We suspect she’s sneaking in naps more than she used to, but we can’t prove it by any drop-in productivity. It remains a little frustrating to try and find time on her calendar but we – and she – wouldn’t have it any other way.
On the marking of Marianne’s 80th birthday, we give thanks for her love, joy and health and look forward to sharing all those things with her for many more years.
Happy Birthday, Mamaw!