Met by Chance or Match Made in Heaven
It was the 4th of July, 1984 in Hot Springs, AR. I was 18 years old and my mom made my sister and I go to a family reunion. We got away as fast as we could, stopped off at the store, bought matching swim suits; mine baby blue and hers leopard print. We headed out to the dock on Lake Hamilton to get some sun and see if any of our friends with boats went by so we could get out on the lake where all the fun was. After about an hour of sunning we saw a boat slowly pulling in and it was full of frat boys! They had hit one too many stumps on the lake and the boat was sinking. Little did I know my future husband was the cutest one that jumped out and swam to shore. He sat right down by me and it was love at first sight. Cute dimples, gorgeous smile, and was quite the charmer. He asked for a ride home and when we dropped him off, he asked us to come over and hang out with him and his friends that night. We went home, showered, and headed back over. I still remember what I wore that night. With my summer tan, and bleached out hair, my white shorts were a “go to”, paired with a navy and white polo shirt and white leather Adidas tennis shoes; no socks. I wore my hair wavy, a little bit of make up and out the door. It is funny how I can remember that like it was yesterday. I could not wait to see him again. We hung out, went to see fireworks and out dancing. 32 years later, I am still seeing fireworks.
Forming Our Roots
Keith told me he was going to marry me that first night and invited me home to his rice farm in Northern Arkansas just several weeks after meeting him to meet his family. His family’s farm was a different world for me. I had only lived in Arkansas a little over a year. I grew up in Plano, Texas and was a city girl. I dressed in my mini skirts, big hair, and was not familiar with this country lifestyle, but it was inviting and felt real. Keith taught me to enjoy the outdoors of camping, canoeing, and driving around country roads listening to music with the windows down. We were engaged by Christmas and planned our wedding for April; just 9 months after meeting. A few weeks after we married, I made and appointment to get on birth control; only to find out I was already pregnant.
We were not prepared for this. We were just living on my paycheck from the grocery store, and his from working on a construction crew and a whole lot of love. Now we were about to have a baby. I could write a book to explain all the ups and downs and can honestly say that not many couples would have hung in there like we did. We lived on bologna, hamburger helper (sometimes with out the meat…lol), and whatever else we could afford. I realize this is not the way we should have started out, but we did and we just kept on going. We moved to North Texas where we could explore more opportunities. Beautiful Rachel was born and we just scrambled to get by, but we loved each other and our baby girl. We knew we had to do better and just kept climbing, excelling in our jobs and soon Keith enrolled in college and worked at night in the hospital. Several years went by, we purchased our first house and then sweet little Molly came along. I can honestly say that it was a tough road and many times we could have just gone our separate ways, but the love that we had was stronger than any trial that we came up against.
Love More Yesterday and Less Than Tomorrow
Now we just celebrated 32 years and it is like time fast forwarded to today. Keith worked his way through tech school, Bachelors, and MBA. I went to tech school along the way and our lives advanced to a comfortable middle class status. All these years we stayed passionate and were never ones that lost each other while raising our girls. We have literally been through so many tough times, but can honestly say that our love has grown stronger through it all. On our anniversary Thursday, we went to hear Susan Gibson play. She dedicated a song she wrote called, “Together Strong”. It brought tears to both of our eyes because we are here, we are the picture of two trees that have intertwined with each other, holding each other up with with our deep roots. I am so thankful that God has brought us through it all and blessed us with this wonderful life. The preacher that married us told us during our vows that we should wake up every day and say, “I love you more than yesterday and less than tomorrow.” What is the secret of a long marriage? Love each other deeply, respectfully, wholeheartedly, and always put each other first, keeping a sense of humor and try to look past the quirks in each other and instead look at what you fell in love with when you first met.
32 years and many more to come….
Few pics from our weekend:
I love to run and run to stay healthy. After cancer, I started running more and run a half marathon every year. My philosophy is “It is me vs. me.” I try to avoid getting caught up on how fast my time is, but do wish I was faster. Most importantly, just thankful I am healthy.