I fell in love on a Friday night in 1962 at the tender age of sixteen with a 21 yr old young man who drove a brand new shiny red 1959 Chevy Impala.He and his family had just moved back to Louisiana. He had thick black hair,deep brown bedroom eyes and looked like a young Elvis Presley. He was a freshman in college and a member of Kappa Alpha Fraternity. I was hit by the proverbial thunderbolt and I wasn't even Italian.At the time we met, I was out on a sort of date with a goofy guy,James, who was a friend and not a "boyfriend".
Richard and his family had lived in the same neighborhood as James's family before they moved to Wisconsin and James and Chester became best friends.When Richards family moved back to Louisiana they bought a house across the street from James's family and as fate would have it,our lives intersected and my life was forever changed.
Chester wanted James to hang out with him and they asked if I wanted to go with them, but I had no desire to be the third wheel in the two guys reunion aka, "Bromance". James offered to take me home,but Richard took over and offered to take me home so that the two friends could hang out,drink beer and catch up.
Now I was exceedingly shy and rarely went out on a date,preferring to hang out at home,watch television,draw and ride horses on my soon to be stepfather's farm some thirty miles away.I was almost mute sitting in the car beside this gorgeous guy and managed to mumble some sort of answer to his polite questions.He parked in my driveway and I almost panicked,wondering what I should do if he tried to kiss me and desperately hoping he would.He turned toward me with a heart-stopping smile and asked if I wasn't busy Saturday night would I like to go to a movie with him.I managed to get the knot out of my tongue and say yes. He smiled and reached for my hand and I was terrified he could hear the frantic beating of my heart.
My heart nearly stopped then went into overdrive when he shifted closer,cupped my chin,leaned down and gave me my first real kiss.Now I was positive he could hear the wild gallop of my heartbeat.He straightened, smiled again and asked me what I was doing on Sunday and if I wasn't busy would I go for a drive with him.I managed to form the word yes while praying that he wouldn't kiss me again because I figured I'd probably faint and he'd never want to see me again.
Richard and I sat in the car neither of us speaking for a few minutes,then he placed his hand on my cheek,leaned over and kissed me again.After he pulled back he cupped my chin in his hand and turned my face toward him and asked me what I was doing for the rest of my life?
I sat there in the dark car beside him for a minute or a lifetime trying to understand what he meant by what he had just asked me and I realized I loved him and wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. Was it possible he wanted me,loved me too and wanted us to spend the rest of our lives together?I finally managed to nod my head and watched his gorgeous lips form a devastatingly gorgeous smile.
Richard shifted,opened the car door and walked around to my side and opened the door for me.We held hands as he walked me to the door and our kiss was short and achingly sweet. Inside the dark,quiet house,I stood at the window and watched as he drove away and wondered if I would ever see him again and if he had truly meant everything he said or was he just trying to nail a very innocent and inexperienced girl,me!
He was true to his word and I never dated another man.We were married on October 31,1964.A year later we were surprised by the arrival of a son,Richard Charles,II the spitting image of his father. and four years later by a lovely daughter,Jennifer,who inherited the best features of both of us.Richard was offered a promotion as assistant manager in a new store and we moved from Louisiana to Tennessee.We rented an apartment,then moved to a mobile home park. I loved the place we rented and the snow and view of the mountains in the distance but I was not as happy as I had thought I would be.I missed living and working on my stepfathers farm in Louisiana and Richard had been made assistant manager of the store where worked and he was rarely home,except at lunchtime.
After four years of marriage,and at his urging, I became pregnant again and we had a lovely daughter,Jennifer,who inherited the best features of both of us and a few months later Richard was offered another job as the manager of a new store in Phoenix City,Alabama and we moved from Tennessee to Alabama. I hated the place and everything about it.Richard worked from early morning to late at night.I saw him when he came home for lunch,which was rare now, and when he crawled into bed late at night.If he had time off he played ball with Rick and ignored the baby.
A week or two before Christmas,my parents, who were wealthy, sent me plane tickets so the two babies and I could go home for my birthday and fly back home in time for Christmas.We had to leave earlier than expected or stay until after Christmas due to unexpected flight changes. I opted to to leave early so we could spend Christmas at home with Richard. I was surprised when he picked us up at the airport and told me that he was working that night and would be working every night through Christmas.
I sensed something was wrong and I was surprised the next day when I emptied the pockets of his suit before I took it to the cleaners and found a love letter from a woman.Deciding that I would wait until after Christmas to confront him,I tucked the letter back into the pocket and draped the coat over the chair exactly the way I had found it.
Christmas was two days away and I realized I could not keep silent a minute longer and confronted him that night after the little ones were in bed. I was not surprised when he denied he was seeing this girl and told me that she had developed a crush on him and probably sneaked into his office and stuck the letter in his pocket hoping I would find it.
I decided to let it go after he promised he would transfer the girl or fire her and I wanted to believe him and keep our marriage together but I was not stupid and I knew in my heart he was lying.
No,I was not surprised when I received phone calls from well meaning anonymous people telling me that I deserved to know that Richard was cheating on me with a young woman who worked at the store.
I was surprised to find out that she was nineteen and if I do say so,not nearly as attractive just a lot taller.
A few months later, after six years of marriage I was surprised around midnight when he woke me to find him on his knees beside the bed almost in tears and I was surprised by his tearful plea to forgive him for asking for a divorce because he had fallen in love with a younger woman.
I guess is his world forever has a very short lifespan. I packed suitcases for me and my two children and called the two people I trusted most,my mother and stepfather. They didn't hesitate and I heard my stepfather 's sharp curse in the background telling my mother to let him have the phone.I held my breath waiting for his "I told you so.I never liked Richard.Told you not to turn down that scholarship at L.S.U. School of Veterinary Medicine.Told you you not to marry that that man. Instead,I heard him tell my mother to tell me to pack some clothes for me and the babies and come home.There would be tickets waiting for us at the airport and we could stay with them until he could find us a place to live.
So I went home again and grieved in private everyday for the love I had lost and the man who had betrayed my trust.
My stepfather built a small house for me and my two children on 2 of the 100 acres he'd bought after he sold the big farm. He had already built my mother her dream house and my sister and her family and stepbrother and his wife a house.Each house had two acres of land and were spaced so that we were on four corners of the entire acreage but within easy walking distance of the main house and each other.I called it the McElroy compound.
Within a few months my two children and I settled into our new house.My son was old enough to ask about his absent father,but his sister was too young to remember him.
So I grieved at night after the children were fast asleep for all I had lost until my stepfather took me for a ride one day and asked me what I wanted to do,spend the rest of my life crying over a man who was a cheat,a liar and left his children for a life with a new woman? Was I going to spend my time wishing for someone who wasn't worth spitting on or another minute of my time or was I going to square my shoulders and make a new and better life for myself and children.
I enrolled in nursing school within the month,graduated and spent the next few years getting a degree,passing the state boards and finally getting my RN license and raised my children the best I could.Life was not easy or always smooth but it was our life and I did the best I could,but there were times,especially in the quiet dark of my bedroom,I grieved for the love I lost and the man who fell out of love with me and left.
Time passes and it has been over thirty years since our divorce and there are still times I can hear his voice and see him in my son and daughter. Those are the times that it seems as though it all happened just yesterday and the pain of the loss hits almost as fresh and bright as it did all those years ago.So ,no I don't think we ever get over the loss of someone we truly deeply were in love with and lost no matter how much time passes.
It is always with us,dormant and waiting for us to give it life again,than it springs out and seizes us in it's painful and paralyzing grasp until we wrestle it back into our memory until the next time.Get over it completely,no,but we can and do get past it. We can love again and eventually be grateful for the lesson we learned,the good things we remember and the new life we have made for our self. Most of the time,I am very happy and grateful that I was loved,knew love and loved deeply.