Setting Up House

About a month before we were to be married, Mom, Dad, and I piled all the furniture from my bedroom in the back of Grampsy’s red truck and drove to Arlington, Virginia. The three of us sat squished in the cab with the furniture in the back of the open truck. Dad had covered the back with a tarp, but we were lucky that it didn’t rain.

We arrived a few minutes after you got off work and met you at the NAVY Annex so we could follow you to the apartment. We carried everything in and sat up the bedroom. That was all the furniture we had to begin our married life, but we had love.

Swept Me Off My Feet

We visited Gran and Gramps quite frequently on your visits home, as I was very close to them and you respected them so much. Yet, one time I remember quite vividly.

We were walking down the hill to the house from the barn. Granny was sitting on the patio (that she and Gramps had tiled) when you scooped me up in your arms and carried me down the hill.

Granny “whooped” as she did when was excited because she was worried that you might drop me, but I didn’t doubt you at all. You carried me down and safely sat me on the chaise lounge on the patio. And, that is but one example of our fairy tale romance.

Cake, Flowers, Oh My

Next was flowers. Granny and I went to a large artificial floral shop and had fun selecting samples. We then narrowed these down with input from anyone who would listen. Then, Mom and I went back to order them. They were pink and red/burgundy roses with lily of the valley for fill-in as Susan means lily, as I was so fascinated with my new last name. Because we had a real floral bouquet to throw at the wedding, I was able to keep my bouquet. It lasted until the foam disintegrated and it fell apart – about four to five years after we moved into this house. So, it survived 17-18 years – pretty good. 🙂

The next big decision was the cake. I wanted the fanciest one I could fine. We found it at the bakery inside the local grocery on US 60. After 37 years, it has gone out of business, but I remember that it was Wilkes. I loved the cake. It was four layers, separated by columns (so ’80s) with a fountain below, so it was quite tall. Since this “Bride’s” cake was traditional white cake, we had to have a chocolate Groom’s cake as well. It wasn’t quite as over the top, per your request, but was quite beautiful nonetheless.

The last choice was the photographer, and the wedding was planned. We selected a photographer located up the hill from ACC on US 60 that has, of course, gone out of business.

THE Dress

One the car was bought and we moved the wedding to June 4, I was then in full wedding planning. Not that I hadn’t been before, but it seemed more real now. I had purposefully waited until January when the Spring and Summer lines were out to shop for the dress. But, now it was time.

One Saturday in late January/early February, Mom and Jason had UK basketball tickets. They bought an extra one for Barney, and Kim and I decided to use this day to shop for wedding dresses in Lexington. We dropped them off at the game and headed to the shops. The dress was the first one I tried on. Yet, I wanted to be sure. So, we went to several other shops and tried on many more. We had to wait for the game to be over after all. 🙂

Once the game was over, we picked up the rest of the gang an went to the first shop. We had narrowed it down to two dresses. I put both back on. The family thought the one we didn’t choose was too much dress. It was aw full ball gown with the “cup-cake” underskirt and even more ruffles and material. The dress was perfect. I love it to this day. We have had a picture of me in it hanging in each of our bedrooms through the years, and it is still in our bedroom today.

Spring 1983

Spring began the frequent trips back and forth. You now had a car, so could drive.

Yet, before we begin with the memories, I am now convinced that some of the letters are missing as my letters to you stop in October when you get off the ship and your letters to me have big gaps from October to March and stop in early March. I remember that we re-read some of the letters together when we were packing to move into this (Wooded Forest) home and decided to pull some of the more intimate letters in case our children, then seven and nine, ever read them. But, that couldn’t account for all of them. I’m still hoping to run across them some day. We always said about anything that was lost, “I’m sure it’s around here somewhere.” Back to the memories . . .

I took every opportunity to show off my sailor. So, this Spring, I asked you to wear your uniform for Easter. And, this was the time where everybody got a new outfit and wore corsages.

Our first Easter

In late ’82 or early ’83, you were recommended for officer training with glowing scores. You were so proud of the evaluations that you mailed them to me with one of your letters. But, you turned it down because it would require you to re-enlist for at least another three years. You were already thinking about getting out of the NAVY, because you hated the separation from me.

I didn’t think about it at the time, but that’s a big part of our love story. You had loved the NAVY, because it gave you a sense of belonging and adventure prior to our meeting. Yet, now you said that your life began when you met me, and you were willing to to do anything to be with me. And, I felt the same about you. We were a strong team from the very beginning.

Our First Overnight Trip

During Spring Break, I went up to D.C. with you to see our new home. We stayed with Josh Beckham and his fiancé. They were renting a house off-base, and she was just decorating it as well. While you boys were at work, we shopped for bedroom décor. It was becoming real that were becoming a family. We slept in the basement on a blow-up mattress as they didn’t have guest room, but we loved it. We were setting up our home and on our first trip together.

On the way home, we were anxious to be married and decided to elope. Yet, we were driving Dad’s car as the used one you bought from Fred wasn’t as dependable as Dad wanted for his little girl to travel in. So, we called Dad to ask for his permission our of respect for him and because we were driving his car. He said no and explained that I would regret that impulsive decision later. He was right. I loved (and still love the memories of) our wedding.

I thought it special at the time and still even more special in memories that both you and Daddy thought of me as your little girl. You would say that I would always be your little girl, and I was Daddy’s pampered princess. I didn’t have a job until I met you and wanted to make money for our life. Daddy said my job was school. So, even my first job at Balloon World worked around my school schedule. I loved that you didn’t mind and even appreciated that I was high maintenance. You took taking care of your little girl seriously.

Our First Valentine’s Day

You flew home on February 19 to celebrate a belated Valentine’s day and buy the car. The Fields agree to allow payments. As we were visiting with them, we discussed the new wedding date. They (Fred, Linda, and Mike Fields with Ross and Mendy Roberson) were going to be on vacation that weekend. As they were a large part of the wedding party, we moved the date – up, not back, of course. We were already impatient as I mentioned earlier. And, that is how the June 4th date was established.

Our First “New Year”

You were able to come home the four days of January 17-21, 1983. It’s funny! After all these years, I can’t remember the specific things we did when you were home. It was just important that we were together. The falling in love seems to overshadow the ordinary goings on of the day. I just remember being excited you were with me and all the lovey/dovey things that new love brings – too personal to include in this book/blog that our grandchildren may read. 🙂

You were back at the Naval Annex from January 22 thru February 18 as you were trying to save up for a car. We have now realized that the Honda is a lost cause as you were only carrying liability insurance. We’re getting impatient with being separated and have decided that we could get married earlier if we had a car.

You mentioned that you wanted a used car to the Fields. They happened to be selling one and offered to sell it to you for a very reduced price. So, we moved the wedding date from August 20 to June 18. We selected that date, because if was the Saturday following June 15, our first date, so we would have known each other at least a year.

Our First Christmas Season

Since it was the Christmas season, we decided to be a bit more responsible with finances, so you didn’t come home on your days off during December 6 through 18.  You visited with  your Grandma Penn, Aunt Peggy and the rest of your mother’s family in Accokeek, Maryland about twenty minutes away from Arlington, Virginia.  I finished the semester at ACC and continued planning the wedding.  

You came home to celebrate Christmas during December 19-22.  We visited with both families as well as the Fields. We exchanged gifts with each other, but decided to wait until Christmas day to open them. You got me several things but my favorite was a stuffed St. Bernard dog and cat.  They have sat in every bedroom we’ve had and still sit in the armoire of our bedroom as I write this. 

I got you shirts and sweaters, because I loved how you looked in them and because you needed them.

We couldn’t be together for Christmas or New Year, because money was tight and you were the new guy so you couldn’t get leave. It was difficult for both of us, but I was always so thankful that our love was already so deep and secure that letters and phone calls sustained us. I also sent you several batches of cookies.

Short Separations

The best thing about your being stationed at the Naval Annex was that your normal schedule was three days on/four days off, then four days on/three days off. Thus, this began your coming home quite frequently, either flying or driving – whichever the budget afforded at the time. For the first days, you worked Wednesday through Friday (December 1-3), then had the weekend off and flew back home.

The letters represent these many days together. My letters to you end on October 7. I’d like to think the box got full and the rest just got lost over the years, but it seems more plausible – based on our personalities – that I stopped writing because I was seeing you so often and because I was now so caught up in wedding planning. Your letters slowed considerably. Where you were writing at least once daily and sometimes two to three times a day, the letters are now once a week. There is one letter this week – on the airplane back, but I had just seen you for six weeks. And, I was going to see you again in three days.

You flew back for the weekend (December 4-5). You were living on base with a room-mate. There was nothing to do, and you wanted to see me. We talked to my parents about me coming up to see you in DC during the holidays. They didn’t think that was a good idea, and I was so impressed at how you handled the news. I wanted to pitch an immature fit, but you assured me they were just trying to protect me because I was their little girl. You seemed to know from the very beginning what everyone needed, but especially me.

Those inter/intrapersonal skills would support us well through the years, But, most importantly, you were intent on knowing me better than I knew myself. The depths of your love were deep from the start, but just growing through the years. I am so blessed to be your wife!