Down Life's Highway
Grateful for sixty-eight years, Shooting for seventy
Last updated 12/27/2022 at 8:11pm
How quickly the years have flown by. Come December 31, Phyl and I will mark our 68th wedding anniversary. I knew, my heart knew, and my soul knew, the second I met her that she was the one I wanted to spend my life with. I went home and told my mom that I had met the girl I wanted to be my wife. Phyl never suspected. She was blinded by a smooth talking half-breed Cajun and Irish. I'd been around a lot and mostly on my own since the age of 14. She was a beautiful, olive skinned girl and that's probably what attracted my attention, but that's not what kept my interest. She was somewhat shy, soft-spoken and the nicest, kindest person I had ever met. She was uniquely different than all the other girls I'd known before, a junior at Bishop Byrne Catholic School, a good student, a good girl whose parents had high hopes for her future. I had to be the parents of a teenage daughter's worse fear. Her father was a Texaco plant worker and so was her only brother-in-law. The Oubres' only had two girls and here I come, a drifter without a plant job and no steady means of support, and I had targeted their baby daughter.
On New Year's Eve, 1954, with Margaret, a friend of Phyl's, we ran off to Kountze and got married at high noon by a lady Justice of the Peace. A lot of youngsters were eloping to Hardin County. There wasn't a waiting period. We needed a blood test so I pulled into Dr. Hammond's clinic. I didn't realize it was a hemorrhoid clinic. They treated us like royalty because we were the first couple to ever stop in for a blood test at their rear-end clinic. Phyl should have known right then that I was going to take her down a winding road with lots of potholes, a ride she wasn't prepared for, coming from a regimented family with regular eating habits at regular times. Her dad kept track of every nickel spent in a little book including a pack of chewing gum. I kept no regular hours, made money through my wits. Sometimes I had money in my jeans; most often I was dead broke, not knowing where the next meal was coming from. She never once complained. We kept our marriage a secret until she graduated from high school and that night we moved into our first apartment in South Park and I became a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman.
Three thick volumes could be written about my exploits through the next quarter century. During those times, her strength sustained the marriage and provided a wholesome family life for our three children. We ended up raising two others. Through the upbringing of the youngsters I did the Little League coaching deal, she was the team mom and life was about normal except for the fact that I never had a regular job and she never had a budget. The children, Mark, Allen and Karen were our primary focus. Raising children can be hectic and trying at times. Phyl is the most grounded person I know. A strong individual, a deep-rooted faith, a true sense of righteousness, wants only the simple things and the well being of her family. We are opposites in the fact that I've been the out-going one.
When I reached the age of 45, on my birthday, we got lucky. All the work, long hours, and the help of many wonderful people paid off. With the children all grown, we could afford to retire. We enjoyed the travel and our place in the Rio Grande Valley. All the major struggles behind us, we enjoyed the life and each other.
Probably a big disappointment to Phyl was when I gave it all up 15 years later to see if I could repeat the successful pioneering in the publishing business again. When I've done these things so much of the work load ends up in her corner. Some people retire at 65 and if they are lucky they make it to 80. I'd do it again the way we did it given the choice of both. But truthfully, the time is coming when I'll have to give it up. I'm a year and a half from 90 but not ready yet.
People ask what the secret to bring married 68 years is. There is no secret to it, just hope you live that long. I always knew that if the Lord let us, Phyl and I would grow old together. Only two percent of marriages make it to 60 years. If your spouse is your best friend or if you look forward to going home instead of the beer joint you're already on the right track to 60 years. You have to like being around each other. Phyl and I have never had a major argument in all the years. We might not agree at times but respect each other too much to make a big deal out of it. She still thinks I'm funny and laughs at my lines. That wedding on that New Year's Eve a longtime ago has produced three children, five grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. We have been truly blessed with healthy off spring and a life for us with no major health problems. Our biggest fear, what we dread most, is the day that one of us will leave the other behind.
We are thankful for the many friends that came our way and are saddened by all those that we have lost. True friends, those you can count on and will always be there for you are few. It's not necessarily the ones you socialize with or are in constant contact with, it's those that are always with you wherever you are regardless of how long since the last contact. Sixty-eight is a long time when you say it but because of those friends, a happy home life and staying busy, the years have just flown by. We just can't believe it and wonder where the years went. Life is like a roll of toilet paper; the closer you get to the end the faster it goes. The waters of time run its many courses. There never was a doubt that we would share our lives until the bus comes to get one of us. We are grateful for 68 years and hope to make it to seventy.
Dedicated to our loving family.