I was the oldest child in my family, and my father was not ready for any of babies to grow up and marry. He was especially concerned about his firstborn, a naive country girl. I was marrying a man thirteen and a half years my senior, a man who had been divorced, and—worst of all—a city slicker!
Maybe he wanted to keep the wedding as low-profile as possible. Daddy asked me to get married in my parents’ home, in a large, enclosed back porch that extended the entire length of the big old farmhouse. Wanting to keep my daddy as happy as possible about my marriage, I readily agreed. It was a simple wedding, officiated by the pastor of our church during my high school years and with music provided by my best friend from college on keyboard and a couple of other friends singing a duet. My sisters closest to me in age were my maid of honor and bridesmaid, and my teenage brother was usher. My youngest siblings were ring bearer and flower girl. My wedding dress was a white lacey sheath handmade by my closest friend’s mother. The reception was cake and punch served from the dining table. I can’t remember who made the cake, but I’m sure it was my mother or grandmother.
I didn’t miss the fancy and expensive trappings of many lavish weddings. I was thrilled to say our vows before God and our loved ones, and I was eager to embark on our new lives as husband and wife. For our honeymoon, Jack drove us to Monterrey, Mexico, in his Corvette convertible, and we spent several days in a nice, but not fancy, hotel. We were as happy as any couple could have been in the most luxurious accommodations.
Daddy apparently decided to test the city slicker. Shortly after we married, Daddy asked Jack to come down to the farm and help vaccinate cattle. He probably expected Jack to refuse or to fail, but Jack surprised him. I don’t know how effective he was, but he won Daddy over by his willingness to do whatever was asked of him. More than that, though, was his reaction to the whole situation. He was amazed at the process and shared his excitement with anyone who would listen.
All of the women and girls had stayed in the house and prepared a big meal for the men doing the hot, hard work. While we ate, Jack described to me every step of the operation, which, of course, I had seen many times. He was impressed that someone would turn the cow into the chute and slap it on the rear at the same time someone else stuck the animal with the vaccination needle. He described how the slap distracted the cow from the needle, so she didn’t react to it at all. He expressed his admiration for the smart planning and efficient execution of the entire operation.
We could all see Daddy’s cute grin as he listened to Jack’s enthusiasm. Proving my theory that the purpose of asking Jack to work wasn’t the need for help but a desire to find out what the city slicker was willing and able to do, Daddy never again asked Jack for help on the farm. However, he did ask for help and advice in many other ways. They quickly came to love, trust, and respect each other tremendously. My mother and Jack had the same devoted relationship, but their relationship started out that way.
When we went through premarital counseling, the priest emphasized that I would probably have to care for Jack in his old age and would likely be widowed young. As it happened, I had a stroke at age forty-five, and Jack had to care for me during my recovery. I did have to care for him at the end of his life when he suffered from Alzheimer’s, but I was honored to be able to do so. We had some wonderful times in those final years when he was totally dependent on me. He trusted me implicitly and never resented my care. Sometimes we would sit quietly side by side on the front porch, and Jack would turn to me and say, “We have a really good life, don’t we?”
Yes, we did. We had a really good life for forty-five years before Jack went to be with the Lord. He’s been gone almost ten years, and I still miss him every day. But even though I miss him now, I’m so blessed we were together as long as we were.
Jack used to say that he didn’t regret anything that happened in his life, because if our earlier lives hadn’t happened just as they did, we would not have met. We always agreed that divine intervention brought us together. After Jack developed Alzheimer’s and couldn’t always find the right word, he started saying it was divine interference! But he never questioned that God brought us to each other.