Today is Husband Appreciation Day. I love it! Y pues I do, I’m putting down pride and vergüenza and declaring a todo el mundo on Husband Appreciation Day that I do appreciate My Cold Blooded Englishman with all my heart. Y ahora, after I’m done publishing this post I have to be just as bold and appreciative to his face. Hijole!
“I, Benjamin Walter Greene take thee, Rosalba Zepeda to be my wedded wife, to have and to hold fromthis day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part.”
Heavy sigh, mi esposo. Luego, if I remember correctly, I then pledged my life to him.
“I, Rosalba Zepeda take thee, Benjamin Walter Greene (And I trembled at the idea that he would be my husband para siempre) to be my wedded husband, to have and to hold fromthis day forward,(He was mine, I could hold him, and I today I still yearn for his hold on me) for better, for worse, (I didn’t think we could have any “worse” moments, but if we did, I would love him forever. Y pues, we have experienced worse moments. Sometimes I didn’t think I could survive the “worse” parts. Pero, gracias a Dios he has helped us always) for richer, for poorer, (Money? It’s love that makes the world go round. It would never be our problem. Until it was. Hijole!) in sickness and in health, (Vibrant, young and strong, a glorious time. 34 years later, we’re just a little bit slower) to love and to cherish, till death do us part.” (I will love you to the moon and back my Benjamin)
Mi esposo, Oh how I thank God for him. Quizás it seems over the top, but it’s not. My husband is a good willed man toward me and his family. And honestly, although I feel appreciation, and I’m so grateful for him, for us, I don’t voice it enough. He’s been a good provider, working hard so I could work just as hard at home, to take care of our kids. He’s a present and involved dad father, it matters you know. He is my lover, God has had his protection over our marriage bed, and when the enemy has come in like the flood to destroy our vows, Ben has faced it and God has helped us, keeping us one. My Cold Blooded Englishman is learning the secrets to being a companion to this feisty Mexican American girl, and I love him for it, because he aims to dwell in understanding with me, eso, es muy dificil I want you to know. My husband is my headship, tan dramatica, maybe for some offensive, pero asi es. He’s been my covering, throughout our lives together, he takes care of me, praying often for me.
Con todo mi corazon, I appreciate the life God has given me with him. He’s a great giver, y ahora I get to tell you about the most recent gifts he’s given me.
Among the many things mi esposo can do, he enjoys gardening and I reap the benefits. He loves working in the yard and making things grow. I’m hoping to one day go out to the yard when he’s working and jump right in and help him and enjoy it. He says it relaxes him, que? The digging and planting, bending over to pull up stubborn weeds and keeping the grass cut. Que relax! One day I received a box of all kinds of herbs and flowers seeds for my garden from my bestie. She’s trying to convert me into a gardener. She knows Ben and I will enjoy working together in the garden. I told her I would have to talk to my gardener Ben to plant them. Earlier this year he did it. He set up a planter and planted herbs and flowers and I was happy for him! Shaking my head! Pero, this morning, a fine sunny day, I went on my errands and as I pulled back into the driveway, the purple herbs waved and the sweet flowers curtsied toward me. It was a pretty scene, if I was a gardener I would know the names of the flowers, but I was now glad Ben planted my seeds. I’ve yet to thank him and tell him how much I appreciate him, since he’s been really really busy for me. Asi es, my Mcgiver is putting in my new kitchen tile. I did have to stay clear of his way, mostly he’s very calmado, but when it comes to new projects, he can not tolerate interruptions. Por supuesto that I was a good wife and gave him all the space he needed.
We’re going on a date tonight, I’ll be able to look right into his eyes and thank him and tell him how much I love and appreciate him. Husband Appreciation Day is a great idea, I’m glad googled shared the info with me. Wife, if you haven’t noticed lately those little things, like him making coffee for you and him. Pero, if he is doing those big things like a new floor, give him the kudos he deserves. Andale, use this day and let the thank yous flow, y que Dios las bendiga.
All this wedding activity stirred me up for a love story. I went back and pulled up a story I pieced together a few years ago from the fragment pieces of information that my apa and ama had shared through the years. One day as I was feeling muy romantica I asked my father “How did you meet my Ama?” He dropped this into my brain and heart:
“En la Fiesta del Señor, le ofrecí una flor ye ella la acepto, y alli empezo” I melted with anxious desire to know more. When you offered that flower, who was she with? What’s La Fiesta Del Señor? What was she wearing? Y muchas mas preguntas, details that a girl needs to have. This story is grounded in facts but does have plenty of embellishments to tie it all in. I can only imagine the hardship they experienced trying to make ends meet and the pain my ama suffered when dad came to America leaving her and the baby. I filled in the gaps to write their story.
Maria ran inside breathless and Angel came zooming in behind her, bending down she lifted him up, Ugh! He was getting so big, nuzzling him, while she looked over at her husband’s picture on the small table she whispered “He’s coming home baby, Apa viene a casa.” She missed him so much, but Angel wasn’t affected by her news, he didn’t know the man in the picture. It was another reality that pointed to their “separate lives” marriage. She studied his handsome face and lean body, standing tall in his Levi Strauss jeans and cowboy hat, looking tan Americano. It seemed like an eternity since he had left, worrying that he wouldn’t come back. She had spent too many days angry with her husband for leaving, but today, despite her fears, and his obvious change, she embraced the yearning she felt for him and allowed herself to remember how wonderful his full lips felt on her. She hugged her toddler tight, and whispered “you’re going to love your Apa” trying to stop the memory of the day he had left.
“No llores”. He hated her tears.
“Chuy, We talked about this. I need to feed my family and I need money to do that. I must go. En el otro lado, I’ll make lots of money and then come home quickly, before you know it!”
“Por favor no te vayas. Think of your hijo” Maria clung to him, hoping that duty to his son would keep him home with her.
“I’m not leaving you like that! Comprendeme, I need to go? My mother will help you with the baby” He pulled her close.
“You don’t have to leave Manuel, I will work”
He stiffened at her words and pulled her away from him.
“You work too hard, too long, too much. Look at you, you’re pale, you’re too thin, and the dark circles under your eyes accuse me. What kind of a man am I to allow this?
“Oh, I see.” She hugged herself trying to hide her unattractiveness from him.
“I should have left a long time ago, then I would already be back with plenty of dólares to sustain us. I’ll send money, I promise you will not have to work so hard.”
“No Manuel, don’t leave. I promise to take better care of myself. You’ll have better eyes for me, please don’t leave. I don’t care if everyone else is living like this. I hate seeing families separate! Wives are forgotten while husbands go off to chase dolares and who knows what else!”
“I’ll return quickly, te lo prometo” He reached for her but she turned and ran to the bathroom. His promise of a quick return pierced her while she vomited her breakfast and crumbled to the floor, holding her abdomen. Their family was growing and he was leaving. Receiving a letter meant his prolonged stay, yet not receiving a letter provoked such worry in her. What if he got ill? What if he decided not to come home?
I hope you and Angel are well. I am now situated in a small room in Mexicali, Baja California, tomorrow I will look for more work on the other side, the gringos are always looking for strong help so it has been easy to get work and make money. There is plenty of work, I’ll be able to make a lot of money. Hace mucho calor! The heat is almost unbearable, pero me aguanto! knowing that you and Angel need me I will endure this inferno. The money I’ve sent should cover all the household expenses for a while. Como esta mi hijo? Tell him that I love him, saludos a tu familia.
Que Dios te bendiga, te lo desea
At first she had been too angry to tell him about the pregnancy. After the morning sickness had passed, she was well and so was their son. Life didn’t change much for Angel, he had quickly adopted her oldest brother; Chino as his dad and life was peachy for him. Gracias a Dios that she had him to fill her days. The baby safely grew in her womb and she yearned for her husband. She reminded herself often “He said he would come back” Maybe, telling him about the second baby would prompt him to return quickly and be with her when her time came. She wrote him a letter hoping it would arrive quickly, there wasn’t much time.
Her heart was broken when she went into labor, she received a letter and more money to sustain them comfortably, but no mention of the baby. Alone she welcomed their second son and called him Arturo.
Eventually a letter did reach him in the Sierra Nevada mountains. His patron needed a sheep herder and he needed to keep working. A numbingly cold and lonely job, just him, the horse, Kazam the dog and the sheep in the cold outdoors. The patron had brought supplies and mail, he was ready for news from home. A letter from his wife and mother, good news he hoped. Que?! “Manuel estoy embarazada” Maria wrote that she was pregnant, But his mother had said in her letter “El niño y Chuy are just fine but come as soon as you’re able” Un hijo?!
“Apa, Apa” Angel clapped his chubby hands “Tío, mi apa!” Angels enthusiasm brought her back, “No, baby, your uncle is not your daddy. Your daddy is coming back from El Norte very soon, maybe today you’ll meet him again” she pressed on her breast as they filled with milk, “He’s coming back! And you and your baby brother will have apa home!” Angel laughed as she twirled him around, “Our family will be together again, everyone will see that we were not abandoned. She stopped abruptly in front of her broken mirror “Wow! I’ve changed so much too”
She put her son down and touched her head, so much of her hair had fallen out during her pregnancy. Her body was still flabby from her labor and delivery. her skin pale from lack of sleep, she wondered what Manuel would think of her now. She pulled on her face, peering into the mirror piece “ aayy! que fea estoy. Ugly!” She accused the image just as Arturo wailed for his lunch, her hands flew to her breast, she winced at how hard they got if she waited too long to nurse the baby. She hesitated, looking again into her broken mirror, if Manuel walked in right now, he would notice her full rounded breast, maybe that wasn’t so bad. Beauty would have to wait again, her boys were hungry. The baby wailed demanding to be nursed and Angel pulled on her skirt, asking for a taco, he too was hungry. Manuel was coming soon and she had to do something about herself, she said to the mirror piece ”I’ll be back and maybe you’ll help me see the areas I can work on.” She ran to get a tortilla for Angel and then picked up her screaming baby. While the baby gurgled at her breast she sighed ready to end this separation and the anxiety it produced.
She remembered her mother in-laws inability to understand her. It didn’t matter that young wives and their babies were being abandoned at epidemic proportions, while young husbands imagined streets paved with dolares. Did Manuels mother think her anxieties were unfounded? Dona Rosario was confident that her son would be loyal to his family and return as soon as he was able. It was Marias job to care for the boys and make a nice home for them with his money. She hated when Maria wasted money, and the mirror had been a waste.
“Why do you need a mirror Maria? You need to be wise with the money my son sends you.” “Pero, Doña Rosario, how am I supposed to keep myself beautiful for your son if I can’t see what I look like? “No buts Maria, don’t waste money, you need to worry more about Angel and the baby that will be here soon” “No señora I need it so that if Manuel returns I will have maintained myself” She was careful all the way home, then Angel raced out to meet her and when the mirror slipped to the ground it broke in two pieces, with no time to regret it, she swooped her toddler up and took him inside so she could pick up her mirrors.
She looked into the mirror as she burped her baby, “Doña Rosario was right, Manuel is coming home and you, Mirror Mirror you really didn’t help, but you certainly taunted me every time you pointed out how unraveled I’ve been. She adjusted her dress and planted a kiss on Arturo’s cheek.
She got busy with the meager meal, glad that soon they would eat more than frijoles, she was tired of beans. She poured the last of the lard into the hot pan and waited for it to get hot then poured the beans into it. They sizzled then splattered, spitting on to her cheek, “Owww!” she hissed and turned to her mirror piece and it seemed to laugh at her with her red blotchy cheek. She sighed and was glad when her toddler took the plate of beans with such gusto, as if she had served him a steaming hot bowl of pozole, the hominy chicken soup was his favorite. She smiled and hoped that there would be enough tortillas to satisfy her growing boy. She knew Manuel had not left her to chase a dream, but to take care of them. When Manuel came they had too much business to attend to, her appearance shouldn’t matter now, but again she glanced in the mirror piece “Oh no! Now I’ll have a scar! She should get rid of that accusing glass! Tears of anxiety squeezed from her eyes as much as she was determined not to cry over such vanities. Worry marked her face as Angel ran to her and asked “Mama? Coco?” And reached up for her. “Si, Angel, just a little owie” she hugged him as a tear rolled down her face, Manuel was coming home, he promised.
Manuel walked in, quietly watching his wife and son. Angel looked up and snapped “NO! Swinging at the stranger as he clung to his mother. “Amor, que te pasa?” Maria looked up wondering what was wrong as her son’s anxiety accelerated “No, no!” Maria swung around and there stood her beautiful husband, he looked like a dark American under his cowboy hat, his blue jeans and boots. She shrunk back anxious, noticing the American in him and his presence reminded her that she was quite undone. While Angel swung to protect his mother from the stranger she slowly took in how good he looked. Manuel reached for the screaming toddler, murmuring his name. “Angel, Mi hijo” Angel screamed in terror “Amaaa!” Maria smiled, “Ya mi amor, ya. There There” She said between tears, “Es tu papa” Manuel quickly closed the gap and embraced them both. There in his arms Maria let the tears of relief roll down her cheeks, slumping her shoulders, she allowed Manuel to take care of his family.
I’m a mother in-law “in waiting”. And as much as I don’t want it to be an anxious feeling, it is. Mi hijo, found the woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with. Heavy sigh, cómo van a cambiar las cosas. Change is good Rosie. Sabes? They’re a good looking couple. She captured his heart and they are now an engaged couple
.…Y ahora que? Well, I’ve got my ticket to board that wedding planning roller coaster ride, suddenly, time is upon us. When they give the green light for all of us to jump in and help plan, we will. Apurate hijo! Ben said, “Wow! It’s been 10 years since our last weddings” Hijole!
When You Know That You Know
Once a couple” knows,” you would think that everyone would just smoothly adjust to their sweet love and choices. Usually a couple gets giddy with fairy tales happily ever after dreams and they walk into their “revelation” expecting everyone to come for the ride. Pero pues, it’s a mixture of emotions for anyone securely connected. Emotions need to be worked out and checked as the couple prepares for their destiny.
While I’m waiting for my wedding planning assignements, come with me as I walk through some days of my early engagement days, before the wedding planning:
Ben and I got engaged and went to share the wonderful news with my parents. No wedding plans in mind, just the realization that we would always be one. “Hijole!” My apa said to my gringo fiancee, as he put our arms next to each other “ Do you see what color she is?” I had already crossed that hurdle. It was a pretty hard hurdle to jump, es que, I was nervous. I was scared to death about marrying outside of mi gente, but after 2 years of praying and my Benjamin waiting somewhat patiently, I knew that I knew that God was for a Greene/Zepeda union so I said yes, yes, yes to his proposal. My apa’s question made me nervous but Ben, the man of few words, said “Yes, I do and I like it.” My apa watched us through the years and saw the steady man his son in-law was and he was relieved that our skin color truly didn’t matter to either of us.
In that same visit, I look back and thank God for mi ama, who didn’t ask what the plan was, who didn’t fret just then about my wedding day. Primero, she needed to see how this young man would handle a strong Latina woman. She did as was her custom, and invited him to the table for a meal and when Ben sat down to eat she served him. He enjoyed his food, and she watched as she heated las tortillas. Maybe he was alright, at least he knew not to reject her. She offered seconds, and my flaco hungrily said yes! And that was enough, my ama liked my gringo.
For most of our engagement I was alone. Esperate! Ben didn’t ask me to marry him and ignore me. Es que, he was also committed to the U.S. Navy, so my sailor went out to sea. As a newly engaged girl I was a mess! Lonely for my Benjamin and not sure what direction to go as far as getting ready for my wedding day. My maid of honor set me straight when she could no longer watch me go in circles. Thank God for maid of honors, they are your confidants, your helpers, your doers in that busy season.
Ben had already told his mother about his Mexican-American girlfriend, so very soon after we were engaged and I was sad about Ben being away, I received a letter from my future suegra. My husband takes after her, he displays little, muy poquita emoción! Her letter calmly welcomed me into her family and she said she looked forward to meeting me! Hijole! How do you respond to that? All kinds of questions came up in my head. What would she think? Did she know, like really know that I was brown? Ben had asked me if I would write a letter to her and he also asked if I would send a picture of myself! But I hadn’t, I just couldn’t, then I got her letter. Now I had to respond. I needed to rush and get a picture taken. In those days, we had to go to the photo studio, so Colleen, my bestie, my maid of honor suggested that I wear a nice bright shirt, a pink one! She assured me that it complimented my nice coloring. Que?! Sheesh, I had it all wrong then.
I got through the very difficult first letter just in time to start my wedding planning and started a nice letter writing friendship with my suegra to be.
En Conclusion: As I’m remembering these days of my engagement, I think of Emerys sweet girl and pray that God will help me to be a blessing to her now, before the wedding day. Y que Dios me los bendiga as they plan, on that day and all the days of their marriage journey.
A marriage contract can sound so serious, verdad? How about a wedding vow, a heartfelt promise, a covenant, I remember using all these to consider the weight of marriage.
I just got back from a sweet country wedding in the beautiful state if Oregon. My bestie’s son was married. Oh how I appreciated the “Cord of Three Strands” tradition, a beautiful picture of marriage with God in the mix. As it always happens when I am at a wedding, I am pulled back into the memories of my own love story.
Watching the young couple, I caught my breath, as I remembered the butterflies that grabbed me on my own wedding day. Today marks 33 years of marriage with my Benjamin, my flaco, my orejón… el amor de mi vida. For Ben, I wanted to shine and I did. It was a simple wedding, no embellishments, no glitter except what comes from pure and genuine love.
The Truest Love
I come from the 80s, and I come from dysfunction. Marriage wasn’t something I wanted or cared for. Having a boyfriend was cool, but I saw too much heartbreak in marriage to hope for any good to come from it. My 18 year old self felt a strong conviction that marriage was for the blind.
Pero una noche, on a clear hot dessert night, the truest love came. I gave myself completely to the only one who could heal my heart. Imaginate! I was a new girl and I began to view marriage differently. In His hands my broken heart would be mended and one day I would marry the right one, at the right time.
I wish I could say it was a lovely transition, a beautiful dance of courting. It wasn’t, neither of us can dance. Ya se, how can a Mexican have no rhythm? My desire was there, I liked that foreigner from the East coast; un gringo! My heart fluttered whenever I looked at Ben. He couldn’t be the one. White wasn’t on my radar, I wasn’t trying to choose him. Ben had chosen me and when his gaze lingered on me, I could not deny what was unfolding. I needed time, I needed assurance, and I needed God in the mix of it all. We took our time. Have I told you that Ben is a patient man?
Marriage was a serious matter for me, I was apprehensive about the “embellishments” of a mixed marriage. As usual, I sorted out my thoughts, worries, and emotions and I clung to myterapista (my journal)! I laid everything out, all the intricate parts of my thoughts, what I considered pros and cons, and ALL the differences… It helped me come to a good conclusion and move forward. I’ve never played with legos, pero, if you have kids then you have seen and felt the intricate pieces of a “lego work” when it’s laid out. Ouch! That’s how writing can be, words thrown onto the pages of my journal or notebook, for later use. Saco todo, I just kind of unpack everything in my journals, eventually I circle around to it again. (37 years of journaling books do take up space peroni modo, I’m old school, I’ve got to have the hard copy!)
When the time came to say those precious vows, my whole heart was ready.
I, Rosalba Zepeda, take thee Benjamin Walter Greene, to be my wedded husband from this day forward…. Oh what sweet love….
I wrote this poem a few years ago about that journey to the altar, remembering those promises I made as a starry eyed young bride. Here’s a glimpse of that walk down the aisle to my Benjamin.
He wasn’t my first love, or even my choice
As I walked in my new life, I happened upon him
Two different worlds, the East and the West
A cold-blooded Englishman was calling on me?
As I walked in my new life, I happened upon him
He seemed not to notice my very brown skin.
A cold-blooded Englishman was calling on me?
He weathered the time and my chaos within
His strong white hand covered my young brown skin
As I poised for the battle, he watched with few words
He weathered the time and my chaos within
God lighted the path that I carefully took
As I poised for the battle, he watched with few words
An array of bright colors our differences made
Our God lighted path we joyfully walked
He wasn’t my first love but with time he was my choice
Our Cord of Three Strands
More than three decades might not seem that long, but it is most of my adult life, more than half my lifetime. Mira nomas! God’s hand has been on our marriage covenant.
I don’t want to discourage anyone, especially my two bachelor sons but, some of those 12,045 days of the last 33 years were lived in reverse and the only one who could push us forward was the third person in our marriage cord, Christ. Through Him, with Him I can confidently say “I do” again and a again. I’ve seen the blessing of him holding us together.
The echoes of laughter resound in my mind as I remember our moped drive around the city of Mazatlan Mexico. Young, inexperienced and without credit cards, Mr. and Mrs. Greene moved along the busy streets to see what we could see, enjoying each other more than the beautiful beaches surrounding us. Life came hard and fast. As a young wife, I felt the gape of loss when my ama passed into eternity, who would guide through the early years in my kitchen? Y mi amor, my quiet Benjamin never left my side. I still hear Ben’s calm voice saying, soothing my fearful cries, “It’s ok, it’s gonna be ok,” when the doctor told us he would have to do a C-section to deliver our first baby. Then I was there again on that operating table, ready to receive our second boy. Imaginate el gozo! When our little bundle was a wee little girl!
Oh how I felt the chasm of east to the west when Ben had to leave me to be with his mother as she finished her days here on earth. I had to be strong, I couldn’t be needy, Bens mama was dying. Pero que feo sentí esa separación. Separations were and are hard for me. Again I say, hats off to the Navy wife. A heartfelt appreciation and salute for our military families.
These are only a few recuerdos, highlights from the first decade of our life together. God has given us an abundant life together. It wasn’t perfect or painless, but it was beautiful. A marriage covenant with Jesus in it, is the way to go.
Just reading the words ‘love story’ gets you kind of warm and fuzzy inside, verdad que si? I love to hear about the sweet connection of two young lovers.
I met Lynnda in church. I was a new wife and a soon to be mother whom God saw fit to link to his new child. She had walked in from the hail of self destruction. After 20 years, her marriage had derailed. In a way, grew up together together. Joe and Lynda helped Ben and I through the transition out of military life, we helped them take the baby steps towards Gods word and healthy family life. There a beautiful friendship formed. With their permission, I want to share a glimpse of their incredible journey. The story of a strong and seasoned couple who stayed in the battle and fought for their love. For better or worse, for rich or poor, in sickness and in health, till death do us part.
Joe and Lynda were two kids in a sea of dysfunction. Alcohol, drunkenness, promiscuity and somewhere was an unseen God that they knew of but hadn’t experienced. All around them, young people took their personal freedom into boundless levels. They witnessed their peers delving into drugs, alchohol and sex, perhaps the unseen God kept them from it all?
Lynndas mother was caught in the vicious cycle of addiction. Her children went to live with their grandmother. It was a crowded home where she saw and experienced the pain of addiction all around her. Yet, it was in this home where she received love and protection from her grandmother and her tias. When Lynnda shares her childhood memories, it’s never with anger or bitterness for not having her mother around. Her stories are always confident accounts of a grandmother who loved her and her siblings. She always has a twinkle in her eyes when she tells of her tia’s protection. “I was tia Linda’s favorite,” she says. It would later be God’s providence that Lynnda would one day care for her elderly tia Tencha and help her through that difficult passage from life to death.
Joe had a huge family. They lived in the projects until his parents were able to purchase a two-bedroom house, not far from Lynndas grandmothers home. In this house they raised their thirteen children. As I write this I can feel the walls closing in around me!
Love At First Sight
Love happened so suddenly for Lynnda.
Education in itself held no kind special pleasure for my friend, though she did enjoy social studies. What happened and who it happened with was very interesting to her. She also enjoyed the time spent between and after classes😁. Joe passed her one day between classes, he smiled with his eyes. That lingering look sealed their fate! Somehow she knew that he would be her husband one day.
This next part is perhaps my favorite part of their young love story. On the school bus, Joe came bumping down the aisle of the bus and stopped at her seat. He looked at Lynnda and blurted out to another girl that was chasing him “She” pointing to Lynnda, “is my girlfriend!” Lynnda covered her surprise and graciously snuggled up to the proposition. From that day on, she was Joe’s girl and they were inseparable.
Woven into their puppy love were the struggles and tragedies at home that they did not know how to cope with. What was Lynnda supposed to do when her only sister chose to walk in their mother’s shoes? While, at Joe’s house, the lack of privacy in the two-bedroom house seemed to suffocate him. They ignored what they saw in their homelife and focused on what they felt, each other. It was what it was.
Lynnda focused on Joe, Joe focused on Lynnda. School days were mundane. She dropped out and together they got him through his high school with a diploma.
With diploma in hand, he immediately went to look for work. A job in a hotel as a dishwasher, equipped him for the next step. What was the next step? He took Lynnda to the courthouse. They weren’t sure about anything but each other, so they were married. As husband and wife, they could finally consummate their desire that burst at the seams.
But there would be no honeymoon. Reality slapped them in the face, dissolving their puppy love. The newlyweds went to live with her grandmother. Ten people living in the small three-bedroom house, something Joe cringed at. No car, not enough money, and no privacy, their existence became a battlefield! The drama of extended family, fueled their own discontent.
They were sure that moving would give them peace, but it eluded them.
While Joe washed dishes at the hotel, he convinced himself that joining the Army would solve his marital problems that seemed to be suffocating him. He went to the recruiting office to take the test to join the Army but failed; twice. Then, the recruiter enticed him with Navy life and presented him with a different test that he was sure to pass. Joe grabbed it, his ticket out of town and the break he and Lynnda so desperately needed. Before he knew it, he was off to boot camp and Lynnda went back to her grandmother’s house, pregnant and alone.
With three hundred other sailors, Joe set sail on the destroyer ship called the U.S.S. Tattnall. The Mediterranean deployment consisted of four ships that were present in the high seas to protect the carriers. Six months at sea were long and lonely for the young sailor, he ached for his wife and solid ground. When the ship entered port Joe and his buddy wandered eagerly into the city. They took in the foreign sights and smells, the fast language stirred their curiosity, while the sensual women in their craft pulled them with their eyes and into the night they lingered.
The West Pac behind them, Joe sought his wife. Their long separation had re-ignited their youthful lust for one another, their baby in her womb did not hamper their enthusiasm.
A dark cloud loomed over Lynnda as Joe’s buddy carelessly spoke about the things they experienced overseas and Lynndas innocent joy went out into the night. She imploded. He had betrayed their love. Why? Was this expected of all sailors? Every detail that Joes friend blurted out burned into her mind. She calculated his violations. Anger steered her course. They were plunged into a downward spiral that continued for almost two decades leaving them bound in rejection, bitterness, and regret.
Sunny San Diego… and Rock Bottom
Military life had landed them in beautiful San Diego. They now had three kids and they brought along the baggage of violations, financial woes, west pac separations, and unending heartbreak. Their marriage was a carcass ravaged by their own ignorant decisions, yet she never spoke of divorce.
Joe pointed his finger at Lynnda and was ready to give up but she stubbornly clung to the dry scattered bones of her marriage and life. Was it possible to love and hate so much? Joe was numb, nineteen years of their foolishness had depleted him of any hope so he was walking away.
Lynnda was desperate for relief and answers. She sought solace with her friend who always offered the same solution: alcohol and men. She knew that was no solution but she went anyway. As she drove across the city, the bright lights of the Coronado bridge called out to her. Loneliness and despair squeezed her as she heard death call her. “Look, you can stand up there and you won’t fall”. Going to Coronado Island would bring peace and the bridge was so inviting. The closer she got the stronger the voice was; “There’s a ledge, you can stand on it and you won’t fall” again the voice lured her, “Stand on the ledge, you won’t fall.” She would go to the bridge. “Yes, go, stand on the ledge, it’s safe enough…but, if you do fall, you’ll be ok”. OK!? She sneered as the bright lights of the bridge twinkled. She did not want to be ok! She wanted to be done, like Joe was! She drove on crying and babbling passing the bridge. In her despair she argued with God, justifying this solution, but he was silent. The silence only grounded her desire and decision to end it all.
Then, in all his mystery and splendor God silently took the wheel. Lynnda knew not how or why she drove on past one exit, and then the next, until she was parked in front of the small storefront Christian church her co-worker attended. Why was she there? Arise, and go down to the Potters House and there I will cause thee to hear my words. It wasn’t truly a church, nor was it Sunday. Lynnda heard words of hope and restoration. Could completely destroyed lives be restored? She opened her heart to the Gospel message, good news that promised to heal the hurt and pain of the past 20 years. With one simple act of humility, a prayer of repentance she was a new woman. The burdens lifted, not necessarily gone, but now they were in able hands.
There was much debri to be cleaned up, especially since they would sail on in military life. This time, the long separation of Desert Storm would be maneuvered with God at the helm. Their marriage was rescued as Joe saw his new woman changing before his eyes. God created “a path in the wilderness and a stream in the desert.”
Thirty years have passed since that fateful night Lynnda passed the Coronado Bridge. I have incredible respect and appreciation for my friends, especially since I considered military life an impossible task to survive and thrive in. I cringe at separations, even the short ones. Life alone without my Orejon…
Love isn’t always pretty or sweet but in God’s hands, Joe & Lynndas love story has endured and blessed God himself for more than fifty years.