The Day I Met My Husband
On Saturday, April 17, 1976, three friends and I attended a party at the Masonic Hall in our neighborhood. Four young men from the city 10 miles away showed up and one of them asked me to dance on The Ojay's hit, Stairway to heaven. I don't recall any conversation or dancing with him again, but eight days later he came back into my life. It was around 5:00 PM on Sunday, April 25 when my telephone rang. My good friend at the time whom I will refer to as "Pat" said that "Jon",(one of the four guys from the city) had come to visit her and his friend Shakie was with him. She had wanted Shakie to go next door and talk to one of two sisters while she spent time with Jon, but one of the girls had a boyfriend who was visiting. She asked if Shakie could come to my house and spend time with me until Jon was ready to leave. I agreed, went outside and began walking because it was two blocks between our houses. I met the young man halfway and we returned to my home.
I can still remember what we both were wearing on that day. He had on a light pair of denim jeans, a floral dress shirt that had a few buttons undone. I could see a gold necklace that was dangling from his chest. He wore a denim cap with a wide brim and had on a pair of dress shoes with two-inch heels. I was wearing jeans and a brown silk blouse with floral patterns. I had on a pair of black cloth sandals with a one-inch heel. At that time wooden clogs with large heels were in fashion but I had thin ankles, weighed about 98 pounds., and my feet would not bear the weight of such large shoes. I was 5 ft.5 inches tall when most of my friends were 4 ft. 11- 5 ft 3. I did not wish to look taller and skinnier so I settled for the lower heel shoe.
Shakie and I sat on my living room couch and immediately we both knew we had a strong connection. I was 17 and going to turn 18 in June and he was 18 and would be 19 in July. Both of us were graduating high school that spring. We both were Baptist Christians and our pastors were around the same age and knew each other. I found out that some of my cousins had gone to the same high school as his older brothers. One of his first cousins was and continues to be best friends with my first cousin once removed. That cousin's mother, (my great aunt) worked with another of his first cousins. The wife of one of his uncles was a running buddy of my mother and would visit our home when our church had the annual homecoming each August, We both had accepted Christ and been baptized at age eight. We enjoyed the same music and each of us had the largest record collections of any of our friends. I found out his real name was Michael and told him my nickname is Candy.
He was about 5"8 but looked taller in the shoes and at one point he asked how tall I was. I replied: " I look taller than I am because I 'm so skinny". I replied this way because I was teased almost daily about my weight, often being called flat chested. No one ever told me that it was OK to be me, or that I might be a late bloomer. I was always hearing that I had a cute face and pretty long hair but needed to gain weight. Once as I passed a water fountain in school two young men were standing nearby. When I was walking away, one said to the other, "Cheryl's'got a nice ass, but." So when this young man sitting on my couch asked how tall I was, I braced myself for the skinny jokes but he fooled me. When I said I looked taller because I was so skinny, he responded with. "I like small women." That's when I knew he was a keeper.
The bracelet exchange
We had talked for about an hour and he was surprised to find out that I was not sexually active. He said he was looking for someone who had only fooled around a little bit because he was not expecting a 17-year-old to still be a virgin. I said that I had been waiting for someone to truly appreciate me and my values, instead of laughing at them. We had been holding hands, then he put his arm around my shoulder and kissed me. I knew at that moment that he was the one. When we stood up, from the couch, he took off a brown leather bracelet .with his name on it and gave it to me. I immediately removed the silver bracelet on my arm that looked like a door latch and handed it to him. Each of us put on the other's jewelry and kissed again.
Years later I saw a television program where two people were married by wrapping a scarf around both their arms. I told Michael that in another culture we were married o April 25, 1976. The silver bracelet in the photo is identical to the one I was wearing that day, which I happened to have borrowed from my middle brother. The leather bracelet is not an exact replica, but pretty close.
The first I love you, but not the last
He promised to call me at 8:00 PM on Monday and I eagerly waited by the phone. It rang at exactly eight and he told me he was at a pay phone in a park where he was playing basketball. He saw the time and wanted to keep his promise and that we could talk more when he got home, and we did. The next morning, (Tuesday) two days after we met, he called at about 10:30 AM. I was dusting a table on the left side of my living room couch. As he was talking I was thinking that I wanted to say "I love you" but felt he should utter the words first. I kept thinking to myself, "Please say it first, please say it first," and he did. A few minutes into the conversation he told me he loved me, and I responded that I loved him too. We dated for five years and just celebrated our 38th wedding anniversary for a total of 43 years together.
We still say I love you to each other because sometimes that's all you have to give. We had one anniversary where we did not even have the money to even buy each other a card. We sat on the couch together, and I put my head on his shoulder and listened to the beat of his heart. I gave thanks to my heavenly Father because I know women who are widows and would give anything just to hear their husband's heartbeat again. Our beginning was a fairytale, but our subsequent journey has at times seemed to like a nightmare. In spite of the downs, which truthfully have been more than the ups, we are thankful for still being together.