Sunday, May 31, 2009


In 1977, I had just completed two semesters of college/technical school and was home on break before returning for the summer semester. The annual Tri-County Fair was coming up and I took the opportunity to earn a few bucks by painting "window splashes" announcing the event. Actually, this was what got me started down the road of sign painting, but that's another story.

I don't remember how much I charged for each window, but I could knock out about two or three of them in a day. A cartoon character barnyard animal and large bright letters "Come to the Tri-County Fair" was painted on just about every business window on Main Street. I was raking it in, doing something that came naturally. People would stop, watch and ask questions: "How do you make those lines so straight? Did you take drawing lessons to do that? Is that all free-hand?" Invariably, someone would tell me a story about a man they knew who painted signs. "His hands just shake like crazy until he gets a couple belts in him. Then, he can paint a straight line without even using a ruler! Do you drink?"

I had been painting for several days when one afternoon, a group of high school students came by. One of them lived behind us growing up; we had also attended the same church, so even though he was a few years younger than me, Raymond and I knew each other pretty well. There were about five or six boys and girls with Raymond, but he did most of the talking. He/they asked the same questions everybody else had; no one had a drinking story.

At one point in the conversation, I turned to face the group...that's when I saw her. She wore her blonde hair in a very short style. Her green eyes twinkled and that smile... For some reason I have it in my head she was wearing red shorts-very SHORT red shorts, which I'm sure helped in catching my attention. I actually knew her in name only because she had dated the brother of a former girlfriend, but we had never actually spoken to each other. I wasn't going to pass up the chance to talk now. I noticed she was wearing some of those "short socks"--you know the kind that barely come above the top of your shoes--so I blurted out what I thought would be a great opening line: "Hey, your socks fell down." Pretty corny, eh? As soon as I said it, I thought so too, but she laughed and that's all that mattered at the time.

The group stood around for a few more minutes and then left. I don't recall if she and I carried on any kind of conversation that day, but I vowed I was going to find out if she was dating anyone and if not, get her phone number. She wasn't (dating anyone) and I did (get her phone number). I called her some time later and she invited me over to meet her parents. You can read that story (in part) here.

Fast forward to May 31, 1980 -- our wedding day. By now, her parents had come to grips (resigned themselves) with the fact that we were getting married. I was 22, Dana was 19; just a couple of dumb kids madly in love. It's not that her parents disliked me; I think they just didn't like the idea of Dana getting married so young. Undeterred by theirs--or anyone else's--misgivings, we purchased a 900 square foot house in our hometown shortly after becoming engaged. I moved into the house, while Dana still lived with her parents. Dana and I would go to work everyday and then every night, she would come over and we would paint, hang wallpaper, etc. getting the house ready to become our "first home."

The Saturday of our wedding finally arrived. I had a couple of buddies over the night before just to hang out; no big bachelor party. We all fell asleep in the living room. That morning, they all went home to get ready for the wedding. I was home by myself...and that's when it happened: my ADHD kicked in. I was getting ready to go to the church--had my tux all ready, luggage packed and had a couple of minutes to kill, so I turned on the TV. Big mistake, because the St. Louis Cardinals were playing that day! I thought, "I'll just watch a few minutes of this, catch the score and then head out." Didn't happen. I sat down, became engrossed in the game and the next thing I knew it was SEVERAL innings later and HER DAD is knocking on the door! He had come looking for me when I didn't show up at the church. Not a good way to start a wedding or a relationship with the future father-in-law! I grabbed my stuff, rushed out the door and drove to the church in record time--her dad followed me, probably making sure I made it. He seemed to be very angry or concerned; I wasn't sure. I just knew I was late!


I arrived at the church in time to change and be ready to walk out with the preacher and groomsmen at the appropriate time. And the the rest is history! She said "I do." I said "I do." And "we have" ever since. Twenty nine years later, I still love her smile, and that twinkle in her eyes. She still thinks I say stupid things. I don't remember a lot of the details of the ceremony, but I do remember that our favorite song at the time was "Longer" by Dan Fogelberg. We had it played right before the ceremony started. It's still one of our favorites.

Longer by Dan Fogelberg
Longer than there've been fishes in the ocean
Higher than any bird ever flew
Longer than there've been stars up in the heavens
I've been in love with you.

Stronger than any mountain cathedral
Truer than any tree ever grew
Deeper than any forest primeval
I am in love with you.

I'll bring fire in the winters
You'll send showers in the springs
We'll fly through the falls and summers
With love on our wings.

Through the years as the fire starts to mellow
Burning lines in the book of our lives
Though the binding cracks and the pages start to yellow
I'll be in love with you.

Longer than there've been fishes in the ocean
Higher than any bird ever flew
Longer than there've been stars up in the heavens
I've been in love with you
I am in love with you.


Little Town Big Life said...

Ah pa, that makes me cry!!!

What a sweet story & perfect "rest of the story" for life.

And--everyone reading this comment--I can attest to the fact that they are still as devoted to each other as ever. And Keith does sometimes, now and again, every so often, say stupid things!!!

nacotaco said...

=D perfect Keith!! love the story, one of your better ones I must say!!

Outnumbered by 3 Stooges!! said...