LTJ: Happy 45th Anniversary!

I needed a ride. He needed money for gasoline. That’s how we
met. My friend arranged the ride for me from college to my hometown with a
fellow student, and though I was pleasantly surprised upon meeting this
dark-haired, blue-eyed stranger, my interest waned when he presented an
egotistical attitude. But a ride is a ride, so I continued my weekend trips
from Tahlequah to Henryetta. To tone down my driver’s lofty self-esteem, I
asked crazy questions without easy answers to prove I could hold my own with
his wit any old day. Eventually, we called a truce.

When the semester ended, so did my ride with Carl Jones.
Since his grades failed to reflect a studious attitude, his parents decided to
let him earn his own money rather than finance an unappreciated education. It
was several months before we met again. I had returned from a summer job in
Texas and a day trip to Tahlequah to finish enrollment for my sophomore year in
college when I stopped at the local drive-in Dairy Queen. To my surprise, Carl
and his best friend pulled up beside me in his 1957 blue Ford. They hopped out
of his car, ran over and quickly slid into the front seat of my car, one on
each side, accidentally spilling my Coke all over me. Not a great impression!

But in truth, I was glad to see this good-looking guy that I
had verbally sparred with so many times. Somehow he seemed different. He was
pleasant and fun. And just as his friend asked me to go to a movie the
following night, Carl interjected that I already had a date with him. News to
me, but something about that Rock Hudson action and smile made me feel a little
like Doris Day and I accepted his invitation, even though it wasn’t really a
question.

After a year of long-distance dating, Carl returned to
college, just before receiving his “greetings” from Uncle Sam. It seemed the
Army needed him more than he needed a degree so he boarded a bus to Fort Polk,
Louisiana, with dozens of other young men. Before leaving he placed an
engagement ring on my finger and promised a wedding when he returned. After
Basic Training came AIT at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Then came the surprise
announcement that Carl would be going to Germany instead of Viet Nam. But with
the good news came a caveat—no two-week leave before shipping out. Not even a
weekend pass. Our wedding would have to wait another year and half unless I was
willing to travel to Fort Leonard Wood right away and say our vows, knowing I
would have to remain in the States a few months before joining him in Germany.

Three days later I walked down the aisle of Army chapel #7,
wearing a borrowed wedding gown, and married my prince charming in dress
uniform. Our parents and a dozen soldiers were the only guests. Our wedding
supper consisted of cheeseburgers, French fries and Cokes at a little café in
the area. Just eight hours later, in the midst of freezing temperatures and a
March snowstorm, we said our goodbye. And unlike our expectations, I was never
permitted to join Carl overseas. It was nearly a year and half before we saw
each other again.

That’s how our life together began 45 years ago. So much and
so little has changed. We still have snowstorms in March. We still eat
cheeseburgers on our anniversary. My heart still melts with that Rock Hudson
smile and I’m still asking questions. During these 45 years, we celebrated the
births of three beautiful sons and the adoption of a lovely little girl. We
also mourned the death of our precious middle son. We have become grandparents
and even great-grandparents.

So what is the secret of a 45-year marriage? Well, outside
of those days that border on survival, I’d say it’s a lot like walking—you put
one foot in front of the other, except in marriage you place your spouse in
front of yourself and before all others. You also ask the Lord to be a partner
in your marriage, praying blessings over your family each day. Sounds simple,
but I believe that’s how God designed it.

Oh, and if I had the choice of doing this all
over again? I’d choose warm weather and a beach if at all possible! Happy
Anniversary, Carl!

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