Although it may not sound romantic, I met her in the parking lot of the apartment complex where I was living in the winter of 1972. I was changing a headlight in my old car when I happened to look up and see this sweet-looking vision with long reddish hair sashaying by. She had me with “What are you looking at?”
I shook my head James Dean-style. Southern men like turnip greens with a little pepper sauce and women with a little attitude. Who the hell was that?
Upon inquiring, I learned that she was a farmer’s daughter from out in the Delta, that she could drive a tractor as well as any man, that she taught school, and that she had a boyfriend—kind of.
I was just a short time out of the United States Navy so dealing with respectable women was not my forte. I persisted though, and six months later we married on August 17, 1972. That wasn’t the night we wanted but the minister told us the church was taken reserved by a young couple who were “really in love.” Don’t know what happened to them. The odds aren’t good. But we’ve been together ever since, through ups and downs, thick and thin.
We’ve never lived in a new house. Over the years we have “renovated” two dilapidated structures and “spruced up” a couple of others. Nowadays, we split time between her grandfather’s old farm in the Delta and a high-rise condo in downtown Little Rock, a true case of “bipolar domesticity.” But, it achieves her dream of caring for neglected or abandoned animals and my dream of living in Little Rock, Arkansas and having a place “just like Ricky and Lucy Ricardo had.” Go figure.
She writes beautifully when she wants to, plays the piano beautifully when she wants to, raises cows when she wants to, sews her own clothes, and creates soups that would make New Yorkers stand in line for hours in the rain.
She once, with her bare hands, took care of a pit bull that attacked one of her cows .
I don’t think “marching to the beat of a different drummer” even comes close to fitting her. Maybe the old Southern phrase, “they threw away the mold” comes a little closer. But … I guess she represents the best decision I ever made. See a little story I once wrote about her.
Oh yes, and she still drives a tractor better than any man I know.