Valentine’s day is just around the corner, not that it means a huge amount in the general scheme of the world, but as a romance author, it kind of does mean a lot in my little corner of the world. People tend to try to be romantic at this time of year, and I often find ideas while reading news and social media this time of year. But that’s only part of what it means to me. Valentine’s Day has a much more personal meaning in my house.
I met my husband in June of 1996 (yeah, I know, I’m dating myself here.) I was working at Wal-mart, and living with another guy. We moved in next door to each other… I worked with his boss’s wife and when she found out where I was moving to, she told me she knew the guy moving in at the same time, right next door, and that I needed to go meet him. A week or two later, I caught him outside, went over and introduced myself. We easily became friends, nothing more (remember, I was dating/living with another guy,) and stayed that way for several months. In August, I found another apartment, one closer to the college I was attending and my work, Hubster moved into the apartment next to mine. He was there for about two months before a staff housing apartment where he worked opened up, (he’d been on a waiting list for about 18 months) and he moved there. He was going to school too, so I still saw him quite often.
Just before Thanksgiving I had to have my tonsils out, Hubster was there nearly every day making sure I had everything I needed (yeah, I was still living with that other guy, he was not so great about taking care of me.) Just after Christmas I got rid of the other guy and at the end of January I moved an hour away (in the opposite direction from where Hubster lived at the time) to live with my dad for a little while. Hubster helped me moved, and volunteered to help me get back and forth to class, as I didn’t have a car at the time.
We officially started dating about a week before Valentine’s Day 1997. On Valentine’s Day he picked me up after my last class with a teddy bear and a bag of dark chocolate (my favorite!) I still have that teddy bear. His name is Baby and he lives in the glass cabinet of my headboard, he comes out to sleep with me when Hubby is gone overnight.
I’ll be the first to admit, things moved very quickly between Hubby and I, a lot of people said it was too fast, but I still don’t agree. I had a stepsister who died in a car accident the first week of May that week. Hubby proposed to me that week, and I accepted. He waited until after we’d taken my sister home to Louisiana and buried her to ask my father for permission to marry me. I still smile when I remember that exchange. Hubby was a kind of blown away when Dad asked him “What’re you gonna do if I don’t give you permission?”
Hubby stuttered and stammered for a moment, then replied, “I’ll marry her anyway.”
Apparently it was the answer Dad was looking for because after looking Hubby up and down for a moment (mind you, he was 22, 5’7” and maybe 160lbs. My dad is 6’ and burly, he bears a strong resemblance to Grizzly Adams) and told him he could have his permission.
We were engaged for a month, planning a bigger wedding several months down the road, when I decided I didn’t want to wait. Hubby and I decided one morning we didn’t want to wait, we would just go see a judge and get married the next day. We went to the courthouse to see the JP and he was out of the office. I started calling around and there was no JP or judge in the office in three counties. I later found out that there was a big conference that day and they were all in Phoenix. Our next option was to plan a quick wedding, we contacted the pastor of the church I’d spent the last 5 years attending, she agreed to do the ceremony, after meeting with us for a counseling session, and I started getting other things set up. We put it all together in 2 weeks.
I wore a dress I borrowed from a cousin, we used an arch my grandfather had built for another cousin and the flowers we used to decorate had been from a third cousin’s wedding. Hubby contacted his family (none of which lived closer than five hours away) and invited them. One of his brothers was at UC Davis and came down to be his best man, my sister was my maid-of-honor, and we did it.
A lot of my friends and family asked me if I was sure, they were afraid I was rushing things, moving too quickly, and that I was too young (I turned 19 in May, got married in June.) I later found out that half of them were sure I was pregnant, because we did it so quickly. I wasn’t, and if I were, it was one of the longest pregnancies on record, as my first child wasn’t born for nearly three years.
Now, I make sure I do something, it doesn’t have to be something big, but it has to be something, every Valentine’s Day. I get chocolate for Hubby and the talking hearts or something for the kids, just a small token for each of them.
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