Reflections: A lifetime with us
George and Sheila Rowe on vacation.
CONCLUSION: “George, next Friday night I work until 9:00 o’clock and then I have a hot date with my boyfriend,” answered Sheila.
I felt mortally wounded. Before I had a chance to pick myself up off the backseat floor of the 1964 Ford Fairlane she found the will power to give me a faint smile and said, “…but I will call you before Friday night.”
It was the longest week of my life. The phone call came and I was awe struck. She cancelled the hot date and on Friday night at about 9:30 she pulled into the driveway of my boarding house (I was staying at her grandmothers). We went out for a very romantic dinner of deep fried fish, french fries, onion rings and a bottle of Coke with two straws.
Love’s ignition point was activated and sparks were flying like feathers in a strong wind. From that night on it was high speed romance. Our lives were changing quickly and I knew that at some point I was to pop the inevitable question about engagement and marriage but the moment and the mood had to be so absolutely perfect.
I was going home for Christmas 1969 and I think Sheila was expecting me to present her with a ring before leaving—but I wanted to wait for the perfect moment. Here is how the moment and the mood was realized.
During the Christmas break I had a long talk with my parents (who already loved Sheila) about life changing decisions that included proposing to my future bride. My folks and I talked until 3:00 am and it was decided among the three of us that I would propose to Sheila and have the wedding in March 1970—now, how romantic is that! After a few hours of sleep I called Sheila at her home in Point Leamington and the conversation went something like this: Ring! Ring! Ring! “Hello!” “Hi sweetheart! How are you?” “Who is this?” she asked. Talk about the mood and the moment being absolutely perfect.
“This is George,” I said. “I have great news! My folks said we could get married and have a big wedding celebration in March.” Silence! More silence! Absolutely dead silence! “You want to do what?….. when?”
“Sweetheart,” I said, “will you marry me?” Don’t you just hate it when there is silence on the other end of the phone and you can’t see or read the facial expressions of the person you’re talking with? The silence was so loud I couldn’t bear it and almost whispering into the phone as not to upset her too much I asked, “Sweetheart, will you marry me? Please! Please! Please! After all we don’t want to disappoint my folks.”
We were four hundred miles apart and I could feel vibration coming through the phone. The longer the silence the more agitated I became and I wanted to scream out to my folks, “I need you!”
Then I heard it. Breathing! Movement! Life! A whisper! “George, I will be happy to marry you,” and then raising her voice to a decibel level of about 120 she said with a lot of emphasis, “… and it will be on March 30 because my folks and I have already set the date!” Wow! Amazing! We laughed so loud and for so long that our folks on both ends thought we were absolutely nuts.
After I hung up the phone I felt sick and wanted to throw up—what would I do about an engagement ring? I couldn’t afford an engagement ring and we were to be married in three months. What was I to do?
We were deeply in love and I knew that she would do ANYTHING not to lose me. I had a plan. When I returned to my wife’s home in January we talked about wedding plans like you wouldn’t believe. I got her so excited about the wedding and the fact that we would be together forever I literally grabbed her by both hands and looking her straight in the eye, “Sweetheart, I love you very much and can’t wait for March 30 but we are not even engaged and I can’t afford to pay my board and buy you an engagement ring, without an engagement ring the wedding will never be the same and if you really, really love me you will pay for my board at your grandmothers and that will leave me with enough money to buy a beautiful engagement ring, together we will go and pick out the ring…..if you pay my board for next month.”
There were tears. Tears of joy? Anger? Uncertainty? I was about to find out. She put her arms around my neck and gave me the most beautiful kiss and said, “I love you very much! I will pay your board for next month but I expect you to be in debt to me for the rest of your life.” “Agreed!,” I said and 42 years later I am still in debt to the most wonderful person on the planet.
To reflect on 42 years of marriage brings a lot of memories—good and, yes, bad. But I am so grateful for this wonderful lady who has enriched my life beyond description. With my wife, our children and grandchildren, I feel absolutely and wonderfully blessed and enriched. As you read this fun article I want you to look at your partner and simply say, “I love you.” Remember, even in the bad days of marriage the sun is always shining!