The first time I met him, I knew this man would be my husband. It was September 13, 1970 at the Blugold Room on the campus of UW Eau Claire. (At that time it was known as the Wisconsin State University – Eau Claire.) As a shy 18-year old, talking to a guy was difficult, if not impossible. Yet, when I sat down next to this tall, thin guy, my eyes were opened, words flowed and my heart swelled. This poor guy had no idea what I was thinking, but to my joy, he took my phone number and said he’d call.
After a few weeks, when I never received that call, I figured out his class schedule (I think the term today is stalking), and “accidentally” bumped into him. He said he lost my number, so I wrote it on the cover of his notebook. He finally called and the rest is history.
Today, March 17, we celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. I don’t know how the time went so fast. I’ve worn his last name over twice as long as my maiden name. We’ve had our ups and downs; many, many moves; two children and five grandchildren. We’ve lost family members; jobs and, at my age, things I can’t remember anymore. We’ve lived in seven different cities, one foreign country and fifteen homes. We’ve stood beside each other at weddings, baptisms, church and funerals. We’ve helped each other through illness, injuries and surgeries. Just about the time we think things are going the way we want them, life throws something new at us. That is what has made this ride so interesting.
Someone asked me what we’ve done to stay married so long. First and foremost is that God blessed us with each other. I truly believe we were created to be together. Second is our commitment to each other. Our love, through all the ups and downs, has remained strong and true. Third, we don’t let the little things get in the way of the big picture. It’s easier to laugh something off than make it a big production.
I started scrapbooking our life together. We were still in college when we got married and didn’t have a lot of money (make that hardly any) Al just came into the room and I started showing him some stuff I’d saved. Our hotel room cost $16.64. We ordered pizza and two sodas that night when we got to our hotel for $2.95. Our wedding rings, 10 carat gold, came to a grand total of $66.70. We made our food for the reception, my sister made my dress, and my mother-in-law supplied the cake. I once figured out our entire wedding cost us a little over $100.
We had thirty people in attendance (minus my little brother who had the mumps). Our car broke down the night before and we ended up climbing in the back of our best man’s two-door, compact car. There was a snow/ice storm and my dress almost didn’t make it from Milwaukee. (I was ready to marry Al in jeans.) Al’s brother and his family couldn’t leave Illinois because of the weather. The restaurant lost our reservations that night. My sister and her husband figured out where we were staying, but after a while, left us alone. It was a fun, fun day.
We didn’t have a honeymoon because we had exams on Monday – and we were broke. So, over the years, every time we go on a special trip, we call it our honeymoon. I figure we’ve had at least twenty honeymoons.
Would I do it all over again? You bet. Would I go through the problems? Yes – they made us what we are today. Would I look at him again and say, “He’s the man I’m going to marry”? Without a doubt. Because: “If the sun refused to shine, I would still be loving you. When the mountains crumble to the sea, there would still be you and me.” (Thank You by Led Zepplin – our song.)