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4. Marriage and Family

I married my high school sweetheart. From our senior year she was the only girl I ever wanted to take out.

Elizabeth and I sat across from each other in home room. I was shy, and the only reason I could think of for speaking to her was to ask her if she would bake a cake for me to give to my father on his birthday. My father’s birthday is October 13, so it had taken me six weeks to come up with that plan. She baked the cake, and I gave it to him.

Then I had to think up another plan. I wasn’t having any luck, so four weeks later she asked me to go to a party with her. This was on November 13. I remember the date, because it was Friday the Thirteenth.

Several more weeks passed, and I asked Elizabeth to a movie. She said yes and asked what time. I said, “Twelve minutes after seven.”

I showed up at her house driving a Rambler American. I went inside, shook hands with her father, and we were on our way by thirteen minutes after seven.

Before the movie I pulled into the Pure Oil station to get gas. I rolled down the window, and when Mr. Posey came over, I said, “One.”

“One dollar’s worth?” Posey said.

“No,” I said, “one gallon.”

We stood in line outside the theater, and I stepped up to the window and pulled a sock full of coins out of my pocket and paid for our tickets in nickels and dimes.

I remember these details because she reminded me of them often.

We married and had two children, Stephanie and John. I worked, and Elizabeth worked. The children went to school. We had friends over, and they had us over. We took vacations to Gulf Shores sometimes and to the Smoky Mountains sometimes.

Early one February when the children were little, it snowed and snowed, and we were unable to leave our house for five days. During that snowy time, Elizabeth found a small, hard mass, no larger than a pea.

That spring there was surgery. Elizabeth went into the hospital when the trees were bare, and when she came out, the forsythia was yellow, the Japanese quince was scarlet, and the dogwood blossoms were pink and white.

During the following four years Elizabeth was sometimes sick, and sometimes well, sometimes in the hospital, and sometimes home. We measured life in good days and bad days. Then there were just days, and we measured them in good hours and bad hours.

It was in mid December that Elizabeth went into the hospital one last time, and on Christmas Day there were no more days.


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    Copyright © 2002, 2007 by Stephen E. Broyles. All rights reserved.
    Created November 5, 2002. Last updated January 6, 2009.