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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Food, Love, and a Warm Puppy

38 years ago today I said, I do.

We stood in front of an old black Southern Baptist judge who did her best to scare the hell out of us.

In a castigating voice she lectured us about the monumental mistake we were making, and assured us we were being stupid. Walk out now, she said, and save yourself a lot of grief. The walls of Jericho had better odds than your ill-conceived notion.

I can laugh about it now and bless that good woman every day. She wanted us to be sure. I overheard her telling my parents that she didn't want to see us a few months down the road asking for a divorce.

When it came time for me to say, I do, instead I said, I sure do, and she almost laughed. Almost. One corner of her mouth lifted incrementally. 

She was right to put the fear of God into us. The first couple of years were tough! You could see it in our photos. I don't recall ever being hungry, but we sure did look thin.

Our first dining room set consisted of a large cardboard box for a table and two shipping drums as our chairs. 

There was a lot of pasta eaten in the early years. And often times we lived from paycheck to paycheck. But we must've had guardian angels. Whenever things looked exceptionally grim, something always turned up. 

For our first Thanksgiving, with no money for food, $50 fell out of a knot hole in a cedar closet. Out of a knot hole! I couldn't believe it.

At Christmas, I squirrelled away change for the $10 I'd need to buy a Christmas tree. Instead, the manager at the store gave us the tree. (You can read the original story here.)

That same year, I'd been feeling very lonely after we moved to Texas. My sister gifted us with our first puppy (and everything a puppy would need).

We were poor as dust, but buddy, I can tell you that by the close of 1976, we felt like Rockefellers.  We had food, love, and a warm puppy. What more could we ask for?

We were ridiculously happy for being so poor. Times were lean, but that was okay. We had all we needed. 

38 years later. We still operate with the same principles. Food, love, and a warm puppy...multiplied by four. 

I'm sure that dear old judge is gone now, but I'd like to tell her she didn't make a mistake marrying us. We were sure.

In other news: I came down with a sore throat and will be missing the fair again. I was hoping it was just allergies, but it's beginning to feel more serious than that.  :sigh:

The important thing is, Greg's home...and we have plenty of puppies.

Has anyone ever tried to talk you out of something you really wanted?



Marian Perera said...

Congratulations to you and Greg. And all the dogs who have been part of that wonderful journey. :)

I remember what it was like not having furniture. After I graduated from college I was saving money for grad school, so I had a tiny studio apartment and slept on the floor. My neighbor took pity on me and gave me a couch she didn't need. Two legs were broken off and the couch tilted, but she gave me two cans of peas to prop those up.

That lasted fine until I got hungry and ate the peas, but hey, tilty couch was better than floor.

Sarah Ahiers said...

Happy Aniversary!!

And what great stories you have to tell!

You know, i don't think anyone's ever tried to talk me out of any large decisions. My family has always been supportive about everything. Also, i think it helps that i don't spontaneously do things. I weigh the pros and cons so by the time i've made my decision, i'm well aware of pitfalls.

Kiss those pups for me!

Sandra Almazan said...

Happy Anniversary and many more, Maria!

Mike Keyton said...

I love these stories, Maria. Whenever I see a cardboard box and an oil drum I will think of you and Greg. Happy anniversary

Barbara Ann Wright said...

Everyone tried to talk the Ross and I out of getting married, too. We were also poor, but nearly twenty years later, we're still together.

As I write this, I have one puppy asleep behind me, another at the side of my desk, and two kitties on the couch nearby. ^_^

Jackie Burris said...

Maria my Dad and the Methodist Minister who married us tried to talk us out of it too, 32 years on 12/11 and sticking it out through all the good as well as the bad times have proved them both wrong.

Happiness in "leaner times" in our younger years is simple to pinpoint, we had very little but we also had very little debt, very little job stress and yes a warm puppy 6 months after we got hitched made us both feel like we were "richer than kings"!

Congratulations to you and Greg, please get well again hate to hear you have come down sick once more.

R. Mac Wheeler said...



LD Masterson said...

Happy Anniversary. I hope you, Greg, and the assorted overgrown puppies have a great day.

Stacy McKitrick said...

Happy Anniversary!!!!

Sorry to hear you're not feeling well. At least you have Greg there to take care of you! That's got to make you feel better in any case.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful story. Congratulations, and you're clear to go for another 38 years!

Diane Carlisle said...

38 years deserves a very huge CONGRATULATIONS! Wow, I don't see a lot of that these days. I'm proud of my 26 years and still going strong.

So happy to hear that food and puppies go hand in hand with love. We cook together and have had puppies our entire marriage. Our current ones are 11 and 6. :)

Maria Zannini said...

Thank you for all the good wishes, guys.

I'm sorry to report that I'm going downhill fast. I wish that bug could've waited a couple more days.

I'm going to try and get some rest.

Brandy said...

Happy Anniversary! Love your post. I hope you feel better soon!

Mark Noce said...

My wife and I just celebrated out 5th anniversary:) Nothing on earth could've kept me from her. When you know something's right, you just know it:)

L.G. Smith said...

Happy Anniversary!

And apparently my grandfather said the same thing to my parents when they got married. It wouldn't last. They'll be celebrating their sixtieth next year. :))

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Yes, yes, they did. My husband was married before and my parents didn't want me with someone with a failed marriage. They were wrong 31 and a half years ago just like your pastor was.

Angela Brown said...

Three cheers for your love, your longevity together and for your puppies x 4. You've had the most important things and been able to take a doubt and turn into a forever love.

I'm pretty sure someone tried to talk me out of stuff and I didn't listen. Although, I can't recall anyone trying to talk me out of my wedding day until the wedding day. By then, it was a little to late and I was going through with it. I'm glad I got Chipmunk out of it, but that's about all lol!!!

Shelley Munro said...

Congratulations to you and Greg, Maria. 38 years is a wonderful achievement. Judges need to speak sternly to more people.

I don't think that anyone has tried to talk me out of doing something. Hubby and I usually discuss things to death then make a joint decision.

Neither of us could be without a puppy and puppy cuddles.

Anonymous said...

Amazing memories Maria. Wishing you and Greg the making of many, many more.

Happy anniversary!

Maria Zannini said...

Marian: I think my parents were horrified, but then I reminded them that my first crib was a dresser drawer. :)


Sarah: We thought we knew what we were doing. The hard part was convincing everyone else. :)


Sandra: Thank you!

Maria Zannini said...

Mike: Sometimes I look at the fancier set we have now and think, it's all for show, isn't it?


Barbara: I think our friends and family worry, especially when you're young. It's hard to predict how each individual will handle the obstacles thrown in their way. I'm glad you and Ross made it. :) It's got to be warm puppies--and kitties.


Jackie: I think when you're young and in love, the rest of the world disappears. Nothing else matters.


Mac: Thanks!

Maria Zannini said...

Linda: Thanks, hon.


Stacy: I finally turned the corner of this bug. Thank goodness Greg was here to pick up the slack. I was really sick for a couple of days.


Marlene: We'll keep at it as long as we can hold body and soul together.


Diane: Congrats on 26 years! I think once you get past 25, you've got it down pat. :)

Maria Zannini said...

Brandy: Thanks! I'm finally on the mend--but now I'm staring at a growing pile of work. Oy.


Mark: Good for you! Hold on to that thought. It binds you all the rest of your life.


LG: Congrats to your parents! I love hearing about old time married couples. It's so refreshing to hear about marriages that span entire eras.

Maria Zannini said...

Susan: I'm so glad your hubby finally made the RIGHT choice. Congrats.

Re: pastor
Actually, she was a county judge. I only learned she was Southern Baptist because my sister ended up working in an office with HER sister. Small world, even in Chicago.


Angela: They tried to talk you out of it on your wedding day? Oy! That would've shattered my nerves. You got what was most important out of that marriage though. Hugs to Chipmunk!


Shelley: The day we have to go without a puppy will be a sad one indeed. That's unconditional love on four paws.


Raelyn: Thanks, hon. When the end comes I don't think I'll leave with any complaints. :)

Karen Jones Gowen said...

What a sweet post! And that judge sounds like quite a character.

Maria Zannini said...

Karen: The judge was definitely memorable. Nearly 40 years later and she still strikes fear in my heart. LOL.