What is love? I met a man in a store. I worked in the store. He didn’t. He was a customer. I didn’t know his name. He sent a dozen roses with a card asking me on a date. I inquired of co-workers to find out who the mystery man was. Oh, he was so old my parents would never allow me to date him. I was seventeen, weeks away from eighteen. He was twenty-four.
To this day I don’t know how he did it. He talked my parents into allowing us to go on a short, three-hour date to a local restaurant. We went on a Saturday night.
The next Friday night we went to a movie at a theatre next door to the store where I worked. My parents owned the store. We were asked to leave the movie because we were talking to each other non-stop.
That crazy man asked me to marry him the very next day and the day after that I said “yes”! The crazy man showed up at my high school to give me a dozen roses and my engagement ring.
Three weeks later we married on Thanksgiving Day. We chose the date because I would be on school break. I moved into his garage apartment. It was so tiny. Too tiny! It was the size of a single car garage!
Two weeks after we married, my husband’s employer filed for bankruptcy and he lost his job. We scraped by. He took odd jobs and worked towards obtaining his Master plumber’s license.
By early March, I was pregnant. By September, we were parents to a very preemie little boy. The following week, my husband started his own plumbing business. We were so very broke.
I found a decent job as a bookkeeper and we moved to a rent-to-own-house.
Eighteen months later our daughter was born, and I had a hysterectomy. I was twenty. Two months after her birth, my husband broke his upper left arm in half. Two surgeries later and with a mountain of medical bills, we had to forsake our home and we moved to an abandoned, bank-owned, partially constructed home on three acres. It was barely livable. The idea was we would fix up the house a little at a time. It was a low point.
I found a better job and my husband healed and we put money into getting the house fixed up. Heirs to the thirty acres surrounding our house approached us to see if we wanted to purchase the land. We did.
I walked on the campus of a community college and began what would be an eight-year journey of night classes to obtain my accounting degree. I worked, attended classes, studied, parented, and barely slept and learned to let go of keeping a perfectly clean house. Sleep was more important.
College was interrupted for a bout with ovarian cancer. I was fortunate. It was caught early enough.
Sixteen years into our marriage, I was a college graduate and CPA and our children were in their teens! Now we had two kids to get through college. Staying on a strict budget, and with the help of academic scholarships, they earned their degrees.
On a balmy March day, in the year 2010, my husband and I peeped in to see our daughter and son-in-law. Labor had been induced. Our daughter had received an epidural and was relaxed and in early labor. We waited with the other grandparents in the waiting area. It was just the four of us waiting when we heard codes/alarms blaring and all the hospital staff on the floor running and I do mean running! We parents, soon-to-be grandparents, tried to run after the hospital bed being pushed as fast as it could go down the hallway of the hospital. Our son-in-law turned for just a second. The baby’s heartbeat had stopped, he said….
At that moment, I looked in the eyes of the man I had then been married to for twenty-nine years. In an instant, every moment of joy and sorrow, of sickness and health, of richer or poorer, passed between us.
I look back on that day and know this. Love starts small with a feeling of emotion and attraction. Love grows through the sharing of the ebb and flow of life. To give up on it too soon, is to give up on the treasure of looking into the eyes of a man or a woman whose shared your life with you. There is no replacement for the love that builds with time.
It was exactly 11:12 am when the hospital bed was hurried down the hallway. We four grandparents prayed. We would learn the umbilical cord was wrapped around our grandson and had caused his heart to stop.
In an eternity lasting minutes, we waited, then our son-in-law sent a text of our daughter holding our grandson. Our grandson was born at 11:22 am. Our anniversary is 11/22. That’s a good number.
Not every marriage is sustainable. We have had our share of fights and twice were on the brink of divorce. I am glad we didn’t give up.
Today, the first grandson will soon be nine and his younger brother is five.
We’ve been blessed to have moved from poverty to financial stability and to have survived and thrived after medical scares and to have each other.
I married a man I met at a store. We live in a farm house in the middle of thirty-three acres.