A recent phone call from Justin, my 29-year-old grandson who lives in Seattle, both surprised and delighted me.

“Grandma,” he said, “Meagan and I will be in Portland next weekend and wondered if we could drop by to see you on Sunday afternoon.”

I assured him that he and Meagan would be most welcome and invited them to stay for dinner. Justin accepted, explaining that he’d arranged to use his Uncle Craig’s cabin on Mount Hood and would be returning from the mountain in late afternoon. The date was set.

It was at dinner that the excited young couple broke the news of their engagement, Meagan proudly flashing her sparkling new ring!

I was thrilled to be the first of Justin’s relatives to see that lovely ring.

We learned that Justin had followed the highly secret ritual established by so many of today’s young men: (1) formally ask her father for her hand and (2) stage a unique strategy for presenting the engagement ring.

Justin’s plan had been to propose on Mount Hood, not anticipating such a heavy snowfall blanketing the mountain on that particular weekend. He admitted having to search a long time for a dry patch of land on which to set up a camera, drop to one knee to declare his eternal love and slip the ring on Meagan’s finger. So romantic! How did he know the ring would fit? I later wondered.

Now I must tell you that the two of them have been going together for years and living together for the past two years. And that both families have waited and hoped for this outcome for a long time!

This is definitely not the first time in our many family relationships that long-established couples have put off that final decision. Why, I wonder, does it take so long? Is it the young men who are the holdouts? Or is it the women who wish to extend their own working careers before starting a family?

Next project: a destination wedding?

Perhaps it’s the women who have invented and encouraged the romantic proposal ritual, presenting a challenge among young bucks to outdo each other. Not only must this act be entirely original, but it often includes asking the father for the lady’s hand, which must, occasionally, take a bit of bravery.

How very old-fashioned, harking back to the days of Jane Eyre and her ilk!

Even in my day such nonsense was scoffed at. Yes, we Thoroughly Modern Millies of the 1940s and ’50s knew we were not chattel of our fathers and did not need a father’s blessing. Of course, approval of one’s parents was helpful. In most cases, they would be footing the bill for the wedding.

In those days, daughters generally continued to live in their parents’ home until they married. Such is not the case in today’s world. Not only do young people rush to move in with their current sweethearts, without asking for anyone’s approval, but they may move from one love nest to another in this experimental stage of their lives, often enduring broken hearts along the way.

Will today’s marriages be of longer endurance after such long and varied periods of courtship? For the sake of the children, let us hope so.

Audrey McConachie-Byers is a member of the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center.

Contract Publishing

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