"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth." 3 John 1:4

Monday, March 10, 2008

How Can I Have Been Married 33 Years When I'm Only 25!!!???

Thirty-three years have gone by since I married the love of my life. I’d love to post some pictures from way back then, but since we didn’t have digital cameras in the dark ages and all my photos are in the U.S. and I’m in Honduras right now…that’s not possible. Maybe someday I’ll do that. But, believe me…we were young…very young!

Just as God’s hand can be seen in so many areas of my life, it definitely is obvious in how Steve and I came to be.

I graduated from Harding University in 1974, moved back home to ElDorado, Arkansas and went to work at J.M. Poultry Packing Co., Ltd. as a receptionist. My major was “Secretarial Science”. I know, I know…it’s what we called a “rinky-dink major” back in the day. But, it’s what I wanted to do. I knew I didn’t want to stay in my hometown, living with my parents but really didn’t know what else to do at the time.

In October, I received a call from David Burks (current president of Harding) who was a teacher in the Business Department and Director of Placement at that time. He needed a secretary and my major business teacher had recommended me for the job. Dr. Burks had offered me a job and asked me to move back to Searcy, Arkansas.

The week before I received that phone call, I had prayed this prayer (basically): “Lord, I have tried to make plans for my life and they’ve fallen through. I now turn my life over to you. Please show me where you want me to go. Please help me find the person I am to spend the rest of my life with…But above all, please let me be content wherever I am, even if it is in ElDorado, Arkansas!”

Also, about that same time, I had been offered a promotion from receptionist to secretary which I turned down. My reason was that I did not plan to stay in ElDorado.

When I received the call from Harding, I immediately said, “Yes!” When I hung up the phone, I thought to myself, “What have I done?! I just spent the last 4 ½ years of my life in the little town of Searcy, Arkansas. Why did I just agree to go back there?” But, deep down I knew why. I believed that this was God’s answer to prayer.

My first day of work was, I believe, Monday, October 14, 1974. Since I worked in the Placement Office, there were constantly senior business majors in the office interviewing with companies who came on campus for the purpose of possibly hiring these students when they graduated.

So, on that first day a tall guy walked into the office named Steve White. I wasn’t impressed…He had on what could be considered today the ugliest suit ever…however, at the time, it was only mildly repulsive. He wore thick-framed glasses and was wearing a brace because he had broken his collarbone in a game of “rag-tag” football with his club over the weekend. His hair was still wet from his morning shower (or was it “Brylcreem…a little dab’ll do ya”?).

There was another secretary working in the office named Linda. She, her husband, Bob, and Steve had all lived in Tempe, Arizona a couple of years before and got to know each other at church. Anyway, Linda was always trying to “fix him up” with one girl or another on campus. I was no exception.

As soon as Steve came into the office, Linda said, “Steve, I’d like you to meet Jeanne, our new SINGLE secretary, to which Steve replied, “Hum…I was trying to see her left hand.” She and her husband proceeded to talk to Steve every chance they got, encouraging (bugging!?) him to ask me out. They just knew we’d be the perfect couple. Actually, I don’t think it mattered who I was…they just wanted him to “find someone”.

It took a while…but not that long. On Saturday, November 2, we had our first date. Steve gave me a rose when he came to pick me up. We went to “The Pizza House” for dinner and then to a concert on campus. The group was pretty good…I can’t remember if they were Elvis or Beatles impersonators. When he took me home, he talked about how he was tired of the “dating games” and was ready to find the person he would marry. I remember thinking, “Thank you, God!”

We were older than most of our single friends. He was 26 and I was 23. Anyway, he said a prayer and then kissed my hand. I told a friend the next day, after she asked how my date went, that I hoped we fell in love because I thought Steve was the kind of man I wanted to marry.

To make a long story short (oh…too late for that…), we were engaged in December, the night before Steve left to go home for Christmas break. We were married on March 8, 1975!

I had been telling my mother about this fellow I was dating and that we were getting serious. So, when I went home for Christmas, we went shopping for my wedding dress! At this time, she had still never met Steve. People ask how my parents handled the news that I was engaged after only knowing this person for less than 2 months. What can I say? They trusted me and my decision.

Our wedding was simple. I only had one attendant. Karen Crawford Kilmer, a long-time friend from home, was my matron of honor. Steve’s stepfather, Tom Cochran, was his best man. My brother, Jen, married us. We spent our first night not 2 miles from my parents’ house at a King’s Inn. The next morning, we drove 15 miles to Smackover, Arkansas and went to church before heading off on our honeymoon.

We didn’t have any money. As a matter of fact, I didn’t get an engagement ring. Steve said we could either get married without the engagement ring or I could get a ring but we’d have to wait to get married. I chose not to have the ring.

Steve was going to school on the G.I. Bill and his part-time job on campus. I had a job that paid $400 a month (before deductions)! We bought our wedding bands (which we still both wear) from Sears in Little Rock, Arkansas. We decided to just drive to the gulf coast of Louisiana for our honeymoon. So, that’s what we did. When we got there, it was cool and cloudy, so all we did was wade in the water and then head back to Arkansas. Exciting, huh? Oh, but that’s not the best part…

We went to Avery Island near New Iberia, Louisiana, and toured the
Tabasco Factory. Exciting, huh? I always say…we had a “hot” time on our honeymoon. By the way, if you’d like to see how Tabasco sauce is made, go to http://www.tabasco.com/popup/auth_audio_tour/ . Now, don’t you all bombard the website all at once! When asked why Steve decided to take his bride to the Tabasco Plant on their honeymoon, he replies, “It was free!”

Steve had a Conoco credit card which, at that time, you could use for gas and also at Best Western motels. So, that’s where we stayed! On the way home, we stopped at my parents’ house in ElDorado and spend the night. Then we got back to Searcy and to our apartment (which we lovingly called “the bomb shelter”) on either March 13 or 14…maybe I have this written down somewhere but I cannot remember the date exactly. We woke up the next morning to a gorgeous winter wonderland of snow! Several inches of the white stuff all over Harding’s campus in the middle of March. We got married the weekend before Spring Break so the campus was deserted when we took our walk through the snow that day! We truly felt that we were the only two people in the world at that moment…

Well, we’ve had our ups and downs over the years, just as everyone does. When telling people how many years we’ve been married, Steve thinks it’s funny to say, “Yep…we’ve had 25 happy years together!” (He says that even when we’ve been married 33!) Funny boy… But I wouldn’t trade all of our experiences together…good and bad…for anything in the world.

I remember wondering back when we were raising kids what our life would be like together after the kids were gone. You read and hear of so many couples who completely lose touch with each other and, after the kids are gone, find they have nothing in common anymore. Thank God that did not happen with us! We are closer now and have more fun together now than we ever have.

We also talk about our aches and pains. We talk about our kids and grandkids. We talk about our work here at Baxter. We talk about what we will do when our time at Baxter is done. We aren’t quite to the point…yet… where we talk seriously about long-term care, etc., etc...but that time is coming. If it is God’s will, we still have lots of talking to do, lots of places to see and several new grandchildren in our future. But only He knows how many more anniversaries we will celebrate together.

All I know is that, we’ve had 33 great ones! Thanks for putting up with my eccentricity, honey…