A little bit ago my phone made a strange noise and when I checked it out it said you have been married for 48 years today. 48 years ago I drove from Asheville, North Carolina to Del Rio, Texas. The next day a 19 year old boy dressed in army greens with pilots wings and the gold bars with spots of a new warrant officer, (and orders to Vietnam), went into a jewelers in San Antonio with the most beautiful 17 year old girl in the world. There they bought a wedding band with a hatched pattern for $30 and went to the court house. grey color wedding collations
At the courthouse we tried to get a marriage license but all of our paper work was wrong. We both had notorized permissions from our parents but they hadn't been blessed by the clerk of court and our blood tests had not been drawn by leprechauns that were supervised by unicorns. No way could we get a marriage license. We were devastated because it wasn't just desirable but essential that we get married. The clerk told us we could see the judge but don't get our hopes up.
The judge was a woman and I think she was an angel. She looked at us, asked why we wanted to get married, took pity, smiled, laughed and put a sheet of paper in her typewriter and waived everything. Waived blood tests, parental permission, and anything else that might have been an issue. She called the clerk in, gave her the paper and told her to give us a marriage license.
We then paid justice of the peace Jimmy Gutierrez $5 to marry us in a ceremony that lasted 15 seconds including two "I do's" and my putting the ring on her finger where it remains to this day. Immediately after "pronounce you man and wife!" were the words "Sold American!"
That is my last clear memory until I was seated on a bus looking down at her as I went to San Antonio to take a plane to San Francisco and then take a flight that lasted forever and went to Hawaii, Wake Island, Guam and then to a universe far far away.
In the next year I was a heroic pilot rescuing the wounded and she had our first baby with absolutely no one there for her. For a while I was afraid I would never meet that baby and never see her again but I did.
We faced life together. We went through poverty, through the fear of holding a crying baby with a fever all night long when we didn't have enough money to go to the emergency room. Through victories and triumphs. We had more babies that grew into fine young men. We were literally one spirit with two bodies. It wasn't a fairy tale because we got angry, we fought but we made it though all that life could do together. One of those young men died and we cried and held each other and we buried him. And we went on together.
We had grandchildren, we grew old and fat and we loved. Then she got sick. She was brave and ready to go and I raged against the dark. But the light went out. She was gone and when I needed her strength the most she wasn't there. I have my children and my grandchildren but it isn't the same. You are strong for them, not vice versa.
I have reached the stage where I thought I was good. I still think about her every day but I only get choked up about once a month and I don't cry. I am strong. I am brave. Until the damn phone tells you at midnight that this is the day you have been married for 48 years and only half of you is there. Frickin phone.