People disposed to romantic musings assure us that this wide world holds one perfect companion for each of us, and the sometimes giddy, sometimes crushing, often humiliating and always hopeful search for that ideal “plus one” has been keeping poets, musicians and florists busy since long before a heartsick Troilus “mounted the Trojan walls, and sighed his soul toward the Grecian tents where Cressida lay that night.”
The very fortunate locate their prince or princess early, and thus are spared the indignity and disappointment of kissing a procession of flattering frogs that croak sweetly upon the lily pad but show no inclination to raise themselves up from the bog. Others are doomed to many a long year of solitary pursuit before the object of their heart’s desire falls into the arc of their observation. Of the extraordinary courtship of Myron Seveland and Linda MacLeod, it can be fairly said that both fates apply.
Myron came to Denver in 1960, seeking opportunities not available in his hometown of Gordon, Neb. A man of many interests and aptitudes, he was soon engaged as a buyer in the camera department of the May D&F store at 16th and Tremont streets. He bought a little white Scout with no top and an ancient log cabin perched on a broad shoulder of Bear Mountain in then-distant Evergreen. He was 28 years old, and the world was his oyster.
Linda arrived three years later, squeezed into the back of a very pre-owned sedan bearing an excited company of young women west from Kansas City, Mo., to find their fortunes in the Queen City of the Plains. Of that adventuresome party, only Linda — a tender 21 at the time — was driving into something wholly unknown.
“I was the only one who didn’t already have a job,” recalls Linda, a candid woman of warm demeanor and gracious speech. “All of the other girls had teaching contracts. As soon as we got here, I started looking for work.”
She didn’t have to look far, and in short order secured the post of assistant buyer in May D&F’s diverse blouses, neckwear and hankie department. She took an apartment with one of her traveling companions, applied her considerable talents to mastering the job, and started making the most of her exciting new circumstances.
But if Linda and Myron spent every day close enough to hold hands, the dance wouldn’t begin for the better part of a year — not until 1964, in the summertime.
“I was counting blouses in the stock room,” Linda says. “Myron came down to get something out of the camera stockroom, and he stuck his head around the corner and said, ‘Well, hi!’ ”
From such little acorns mighty oaks do grow, just not right away.
“There was an attraction, but we were both shy. I’d see him sometimes, and sometimes when I was eating lunch out on Zeckendorf Plaza, he’d be kind of hanging around, but it took him a long time to ask me out.”
It took at least three weeks, if memory serves, but Myron at last bit the bullet and suggested an outing, tete a tete.
“He fixed a picnic and took me to Red Rocks, then brought me up to Evergreen to see what he was doing on his house. It was really amazing.”
Linda appreciated Myron’s quiet gallantry, his subtle humor, his confident enterprise. Myron admired Linda’s gentle grace, her keen intelligence, her frank compassion. But, for all that, the first year of their courtship yielded little in the way of permanent arrangement.
“It was different then,” Linda explains. “People didn’t ‘hook up’ like they do now, or date just one person. When you were dating, you dated, and we both saw other people.”
Linda was transferred to the Colorado Springs branch of May D&F in 1966, about the same time that Myron, who’d discovered that homebuilding agreed with him, decided to leave the company and put his newfound gifts to profitable use. The two weren’t happy to end their felicitous association, but they weren’t exactly broken up about it, either.
“It was a wonderful relationship, but we were going in different directions, and we just sort of drifted apart.”
And that would have been the end of their story, except that it was hardly even the beginning. When Linda was recalled to Denver the following year, Myron was waiting for her, and their simmering romance rapidly came to a boil.
“We were a lot more serious about each other by then,” Myron says. “They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, and I guess it really did.”
And so they lived happily ever after, except they did nothing of the kind. Barely a year later, Linda was offered a plum position as a buyer with an upscale Seattle department store. The choice between love and career couldn’t have been more stark, for either of them, and both chose to follow their heads instead of their hearts.
“For me, it was a really good opportunity, and if we weren’t getting married, I felt like I had to take it,” says Linda. “And Myron was just starting his business. I guess he just wasn’t in the marrying mood. It was hard for both of us, but I went to Seattle and he stayed here. And we both just got on with our lives without each other.”
For Myron, getting on with life meant parlaying his natural energy and talents into a prosperous construction business. Homes all over Evergreen bear his unique stamp, and Seveland Construction brought in projects from Denver to Dillon. Both creative and inquisitive, the confirmed bachelor delighted in expanding professional boundaries. He taught himself design, cabinet-making and masonry — anything and everything it takes to transform rock and timber into a comfortable home. He embraced green methods and technologies long before the industry tumbled to them, and gave many an aimless young man the chance to learn a useful and meaningful trade. And Myron’s little pioneer cabin on Bear Mountain became the rustic ponderosa core of a beautiful mountain chalet.
In Seattle, Linda got on with life by succeeding brilliantly at her career. She married a man she loved and became the mother of two fine children. In the mid-1980s, however, with her marriage sinking fast and no realistic expectation of support, she resolved to find her own way to ensure her children’s future. Always fond of the water, she borrowed as much money as the circumstances and generosity of her friends and relations would permit, installed a pool in her backyard, and started offering swimming lessons to the neighborhood children. If anything, her second career went more swimmingly than her first, and Linda’s swimming school remains a prominent and beloved Kirkland, Wash., institution.
So proceeded their separate lives, stretching out year after solitary year, each of them believing themselves content and sufficient unto themselves. And then, one close Northwestern night in May 2005, Linda went to sleep.
“I had a dream about him,” says Linda. “The next morning I looked him up on the Internet and found the website for his construction company. I pictured him as this exciting, successful person. I called him two or three times, but every time I got the answering machine and was too shy to leave a message. Then I just sort of forgot about it.”
Except she didn’t forget about it, at least not for good.
“I called him again about two years later, but I got the answering machine again. I thought, ‘Poor Myron. He probably can’t get to the phone.’ ”
“She thought I was some old guy wrapped in a blanket sitting in a wheelchair,” Myron laughs.
“I still didn’t leave a message, but that time I decided to write a short note to his e-mail address, just to say hi. I didn’t really expect an answer, but he answered almost immediately.”
And so Linda’s and Myron’s long-deferred romance entered an entirely modern phase — the cyber-relationship. Back and forth, catching up, remembering when, growing closer, breathing life into a ghost from the past. Once, after learning how hard Linda must work to maintain her bustling business, Myron sent her a little gift.
“It was a ‘SKY Chair’ from Boulder,” says Linda, smiling. “It had a note on it that said ‘Take a rest.’ Right then I knew he still had a good heart.”
The Internet has a great many uses, but it’s no substitute for the real thing, and the long-ago sweethearts still had an important test to pass if their re-ignited love was to flourish. In September 2005, Linda was 63, Myron was 73, and the two agreed to meet on that most neutral of all ground, Las Vegas. Myron’s flight got in first, and he stood waiting at the gate when Linda stepped expectantly into the terminal.
“I glanced over, and there he was. He looked to me just like he did when I was 22. By the time we got to the baggage claim, it was like it was 1964. All those years just seemed to vanish.”
Days later, and despite her mother’s strong protestations to the contrary, Linda’s daughter pronounced the reunion a crashing disaster.
“We didn’t gamble, we didn’t go to any fancy restaurants, we didn’t see any shows,” Linda explains. “She thought it was a big waste of time. All we did for three days was walk and talk. It was fabulous.”
Even so, there was at least one tense moment.
“We booked two rooms at the Golden Nugget,” chuckles Myron, “and the bellboy took everything up to the same room.”
“We weren’t quite sure what to do,” says Linda, clearly enjoying the retelling. “We’re standing at the door, Myron is sweating, I’m a wreck … but we finally had him check for the other reservation and got everything straightened out.”
Stoked by the persistent embers of memory, the 72-hour trial-by-fire forged new bonds of love, and things started moving more quickly — or, at least, quickly when compared to their relationship’s previously glacial pace. Myron invited Linda to visit him at the little mountain bungalow she’d known only briefly so many years before. His construction crew suspected something was up when their notoriously tight-lipped boss came back from Nevada positively chatty, and they were dead-certain when he pulled them from every other project for a week of combat-refurbishment on the cabin — painting, replacing tile, hanging new drapes — almost as if he wanted to make the place fit for a lady. Linda recalls a warm reception.
“When I got to the house, one of his workers opened the door and said, ‘Oh, so you’re the reason Myron’s been so happy lately.’ And you could tell they were really happy for him.”
And that pretty much concludes the remarkable, wonderful, even epic love story of Linda MacLeod and Myron Seveland, except there is one more small detail that probably bears mention.
“We’re traditional people, and we wanted a traditional relationship. After five years of visiting each other between Colorado and Washington, we decided it was time to get married.”
On Dec. 18, at the end of an interminable 46-year courtship and an uncharacteristically sudden three-week formal engagement, the happy couple became The Happy Couple, man and wife. The simple rite was held in the rustic cabin that now serves as Mr. and Mrs. Seveland’s living room.
“Three other weddings have been held in this room over the years,” says Myron, with a broad gesture that takes in the Dakota Ridge sandstone fireplace he built by hand and the cowboy-theme chandeliers he rescued from the ruins of Troutdale Lodge. “I don’t think I ever expected the fourth one would be mine.”
People of contemplative disposition will contend that such an unquenchable love affair tends to support the notion of a specific soul for which we are each by Nature intended. Certainly Linda and Myron subscribe to that view.
“I guess it’s Fate,” says Myron, with a little wink in his voice. “It just takes some people longer than others.”