Today marks 29 years of marital bliss for Denise and I. This is a fitting weekend for the celebration. We will be spending it with Camille, Emma, and our wonderful friends, doing the kinds of things we love to do — it’s been a very busy weekend and will be, right up until our heads hit the pillow tonight.
I had to work yesterday and, as I was driving home down the Old Downieville Highway, with my sunroof open and Eric Whitacre playing, I was reflecting upon how blessed I am and the fact that all sorts of wonderful things have come my way in unexpected or unusual ways.
For example, I went to the same high school with Denise for three years and never met her. I do, however, remember checking her out, because she dressed a bit differently than the other girls. She was in the same general ballpark, if you will, but something about her was slightly more different or hip. She wore Dr. Scholl’s clog/sandals and was definitely the first person I knew who wore Birkenstocks, before they became the rage. One of our first outings was driving all the way to a store in Laguna Canyon to track down a pair. I learned later that she made her own clothes.
We were introduced by our mutual friend, Amy, while I was at the high school track, putting the shot. I was in track, simply so I could stay in 6th period gym and take a shower at the end of the day and not sometime in between whatever semi-academic classes I was sleeping through. Denise and Amy just happened to be walking home while I was loitering, so it was a “chance” meeting. We hit it off immediately.
Denise and I were wed in 1976, the year of our country’s bicentennial. We got off to a rocky start by getting hitched in the Los Angeles Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormons. The ceremony was “secret, not sacred,” containing numerous blood-oaths with the appropriate names, signs and tokens. We got new names and I was given Denise’s, so I could call her forth on the morning of the first resurrection… that is, if she proves to be a decent spouse and a good cook. None of our family members could be there and we have no wedding photos. I call it our Las Vegas Temple Wedding, because we invited all our Mormon friends, but a very popular old-timer in our ward had died and was buried that day, so only one couple came to our wedding. When it was time to tie the knot in the sealing room, they needed two more witnesses and had to run all over the temple to find another pair of initiates, while we waited at the altar. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, Denise and I have led a somewhat quirky, yet interesting, life.
In spite of our first stumbling and bumblings, we did something right and immediately conceived a son. He was born on Labor Day and it was the hottest day of the year. Sam was followed a couple years later by Camille, who was born on the busiest day of the year at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital. Dr. Michelin and the maternity nurses had been there all day and ordered out for pizza. I still remember Denise with Camille on her stomach, eating Frank’s Pizza. Emma was typically stubborn and would not conceive for years, in spite of valiant, consistent, enthusiastic effort on our part. Finally, in 1986, she popped out (literally) into the world, mohawk and all. That day was memorable, because we were sitting on the brow of the hill in the parking lot, waiting for Denise’s labor to get a bit harder. It was a beautiful day and the Lord gave us a sign in the heavens that this would be a special child… I saw my first SR71 banking hard as it approached Beale Air Force Base to land and it looked like a big, black UFO.
I won’t bore you with the details of the following 28 years — that’s what this blog is for.