Saturday, June 20, 2009
Forty Years Together
June 21st, 1969 is the day my husband, Lon, and I were married. Every year, June 21st launches all of us into summer; that particular date in 1969, launched Lon and I into a marriage that has held for forty years.
Our paths first crossed at Turner High School, Lon’s being the first class to graduate from the new school and mine being the second. Turner was a small school so everyone knew everyone else, at least on a face-recognition level . Lon and I were in only one class together, French. He still shakes his head when he remembers how I talked back to the teacher upon occasion. (Being a good student, I got away with things). Mr. Yost was a frail, timid man whose lower lip would tremble when he was frustrated and it quivered more than once because of me. (I often wonder why Lon later hooked up with me when he’d seen my mischievous side. I take some consolation in knowing he had fair warning of what he was in for).
My first impressions of Lon weren’t earth-shattering, but I did take notice of him. For some strange reason, my most vivid mind video is of him and his buddies rushing to the cafeteria for lunch. They were starving, but were trying to obey the no running in the halls rule. He was brimming with energy and anticipation as he rounded the corner and caught sight of the cooks in the kitchen. That was my first positive impression of the man I would marry. (Fortunately, my mother loved to cook and satisfied him in that department with frequent big meals for many, many years because cooking wasn’t and still isn’t a passion of mine).
Our first dates were double dates, but not with each other. Lon was dating a classmate of his and I was paired with one of his best friends. These were our first chances to get to know one another, yet we weren’t brought together as a direct result of those shared experiences.
Lon was a basketball star, a baseball star and he played football. He was a coach’s dream, giving everything within his ability to whatever sport he was playing. He rarely rode the bus home from school because he normally had basketball, baseball or football practice right after school. On what I thought was a typical school day afternoon, I climbed on board the bus to find every single seat filled. As I headed down the aisle, I saw Lon sitting about two-thirds of the way back. As usual, he was wearing an ear-to-ear grin. Our eyes met, he patted his thigh and with only a second or two’s hesitation, I took a seat on his knee. We were both dating someone else, but that didn’t seem to matter. Fine students that we were, safety on the bus came first. (Yeah, right).
To reciprocate his offer of a place to sit, I invited him over to play pool. We lived on adjacent streets and not too far from residing in back-to-back houses. The bus dropped Lon off first and then me. I no sooner got in the house and put my books down and he was bounding up the steps and knocking on the door. I wonder what Mom thought. She’d never laid eyes on him before but had to be impressed by his boyish enthusiasm and sincerely friendly personality. I led him downstairs to the pool table and after showing him how the game “should” be played, the rest is history.
From then on, we were inseparable. A year or two after we claimed each other, we planned to marry, but we both wanted to have a good start so we waited, worked and saved our money. Doing that, we had all new furniture, appliances and everything else we needed to move into an apartment when we married three years after that fateful bus ride.
My first job was at Sears and Lon worked for his father in his painting and decorating business. In October of 1978, our son, Jared was born. Our lives changed but at thirty years of age, we were ready for the change. Now Jared is thirty years old. He works with Lon in the business that Lon’s father started in 1952.
I’ve had a ringside seat to watch as Lon and Jared have played and worked together. The bond between them is amazing for me to observe even after all these years. Lon thinks that Jared and I are the greatest gifts he’s ever received. How do I know that? How do Jared and I both know that? Lon’s actions and words more than prove how he feels.
I don’t understand Lon’s capacity for loving me and I never will, that much I have figured out. All I can do is accept it and do my best to deserve it. I know that I'll never be able to give as much of myself to him as he does to me. He shakes his head when I tell him that and thinks otherwise, of course.
So tomorrow is the big day. I’ve brought out our wedding pictures and we’ll sit down and go through them by ourselves and again with Jared. Forty years is a long time. I thank God for Lon, for Jared and for the joy of every single year.