It's an old story. You've got yours. I've got mine. Mine started in 1970.
I was home before starting my senior year in college and, that afternoon, I'd been out with my best friend, Charlie Theriot. "Most likely looking for trouble," my maternal grandmother, Cora Wells, would've mumbled.
I'd just dropped Charlie off and was headed home when I saw Linda Martello sitting on her front porch.
I hadn't seen her since high school, so I stopped to talk and catch up on old times. I spent a pleasant hour or two visiting with her - laughing, telling stories, going over the names of friends from high school. Then I went on my way.
A couple of nights later, I bumped into her again and I started noticing things.
I liked her laugh. I liked how she looked at you when she spoke to you. I liked the way her voice sounded. I liked a whole bunch of things about her that I hadn't really noticed before.
As the evening wound down, I asked if she she'd like a ride home. She only lived a few blocks away, but it was late and my grandmother would've pitched a fit if I hadn't offered.
We got to her house and a really strange thing happened. I didn't want to leave. We talked a bit and, struggling to come up with a reason to see her again, I remembered that there was a Russian art exhibit in town. I knew Russian art about like Einstein knew how to fade a nine iron into the wind. Still, I asked if she'd like to go.
She said yes and I found myself planning the rest of my vacation around being with her. Movies, dinners, what have you. I even took in an evening concert in a local park - again, way out of my element.
September came too soon, but she said she'd come up for a football game in November.She did. All 4’8” and 90 pounds of her. There, in the parking lot before the game, she got to meet "Bo" Rose, Terry Steffan, and Bruce McCroskey. Not one of them was under 6’3” and they delighted in forming a circle around her and hemming her in - threatening not to let her out.
There I heard that laugh again and I just stood there watching. Life was good. Linda was great. I was a senior. We won the game. I had my girl.I proposed to her three months later in a parking lot. It wasn’t very romantic, but you have to understand that, among all of the things I’ve been called over the years, "romantic" isn't at the top of the list. "Romantic" isn't even on the list. In fact, you really don't want to see the list.
Still, she accepted and we were married a year later. That was 37 years ago as of last week.
Over those years, I've found out a lot more about her. She likes old songs. She cries in movies. She believes in dreams and decency. She gives others the benefit of the doubt. She makes sure her kids know she loves them. She also makes a killer lasagna that I struggle to not devour in one sitting.
Over the course of our marriage, she's moved with me fourteen times. She's fretted quietly while I flew, worked as a diver, went off to a war, and, eventually, did six separate sea tours. She's dealt with broken cars, leaky plumbing, and every ilk of repairmen. She's raised three kids along with the assorted measles, chicken pox, ear infections, stitches in cut feet, cub scouts, soccer, football, baseball, plays, PTA and dances - mostly while I was away.
And, after all this, it seems she still hasn't figured out that I got the better end of the deal - or, if she has, she's been kind enough not to throw it in my face as often as she should.
At 60, my brain has dimly registered a number of facts.
There's likely not as much time ahead of me as there is behind me. Wealth's out and fame is certainly not in the cards. "Good looks" got up and left a long time ago - if it was ever here.
But, for 37 years, I've had the love of a great woman.
And, if scores are kept on the making of a good life, that'll do.