1988: Rose, Party of 3

This was the only full year when we were a party of three. You were still working nights, and David was an “easy” baby. So, I remember many nights when you would come home at 3:00 am, and we would go out to eat breakfast at Denny’s, IHOP, etc. You embraced being a father and loved it.

We planned David’s first birthday party in Ashland’s Central Park, so that grandparents and family wouldn’t have to travel. It was a festive occasion, but you made even the mundane festive. At the party, your mother asked if I was pregnant, and I was quite offended. Yet, she was right, I was very newly pregnant with Lauren, which we would discover in the next month. We had such a rough time getting pregnant with David, and we wanted to children to be close together in age. So, we allowed things to happen in God’s timing after David was born. We were thrilled that the children were going to be twenty months apart.

We moved David over into the room next door to the nursery to give him a “big boy” room, and kept the nursery as it was with David, because the Doctors told us that this baby was a boy as well. (We’ll learn they were wrong in 1989.)

The rest of the year was spent getting ready for the newest bundle, enjoying playing with David, working, and the normal goings on of life.

1987: We become Parents

This is the year that we became parents. We spent the first part of the year setting up the nursery and getting ready for our little one. We found out around Valentine’s Day that it was going to be a boy. We had already selected the name, David, because it was a strong Biblical name.

You were focused on getting the car ready to bring him home safely, while I was focused on getting the nursery ready. You got all new tires and the car completely tuned up. I made the crib bumpers and blankets from Precious Moments fabric and balloons with the alphabet out of matching colors for the wall. The sheets were coordinating fabric as well. (It was always so special to me that you were proud of how “crafty” I was. You were my biggest cheerleader in everything.) And, of course, we bought the crib and a matching dresser for the room.

We thought it was special that David was due on our dating anniversary, June 15. However, his actual arrival was even more special – our wedding anniversary, June 4. I had worked on a cross-stitch as we traveled to Ashland over these past four years, and you had it professionally stretched and framed for me for our fourth anniversary. It still hangs in the family room of our home. But the joke was that I gave you the best present.

The second half of the year was spent taking care of our little miracle. We had planned for me to take the traditional six weeks maternity leave and then David would go to daycare. It is one of my favorite memories that my big, strong husband just couldn’t leave our son at daycare. The day I returned to work, you were to take David to daycare as my workday started before yours. You did drop him off, but then cried as you were driving away and went back to get him. (I can count on on hand the times I saw you cry, so this was big.) You took the rest of the day off and called to tell me that we needed to work things out so we could care for David on our own. Your part was to switch to nights so you could watch him during the day. And, you went without much sleep for the next six years to be the best Dad ever.

Arthur Young sent me on a trip for training and auditing soon thereafter. Mom came down to help with David. I missed you all so much that we decided that I would quit to be home with David and help you get more sleep. And, about this same time, we learned that I could make money by going back to school as a scholarship for parents who had graduated in the top 20% of the class was more than tuition. So, I went back to school to earn my education degree that Fall.

The holidays were more exciting this year, because we had a little one. We dressed David up for Thanksgiving as well as Christmas (and most days, really), and had one of the best Christmas celebrations, because it was David’s first.


This was the year of our first house and the beginnings of our becoming parents.

You had always said that you wouldn’t want to have children until we had a house. We had been in Louisville for six months and had time to research where we wanted to settle down for a bit. We selected Jeffersontown, because I liked the feel of the area with the nice neighborhoods and proximity to downtown and you felt it would be a good investment as you sensed the area would develop more.

We had been trying since soon after we both landed those good jobs to be pregnant, but nothing had happened. And, in Spring 1986, I had a stroke. I was only 23, so I was hospitalized for a battery of tests. They determined it was hormonal. With the stroke and the almost a year of trying to grow our family with little result, we were directed to the Doctor’s. We selected Dr. Watson as our OB/Gyn and went for what we thought was regular check-up and follow-up from the hospital tests. Yet, Dr. Watson told us that the NAVY doctor had put me on too strong a birth control for my body, and he wasn’t sure if that could be repaired. We were devastated and elected to try anything. I was put on Clomid and instructed to do the most interesting exercises as we attempted the process for a baby. In late Fall, we had the best news. We were expecting!

Thoughout this time, we were house hunting in Jeffersontown. We found a beautiful 3 bedroom 1 /12 bath split-level at 8710 Avondale Court. We purchased it and moving in during the Summer. It seemed that God was smiling all over us – beautiful marriage, a child on the way, and a nice house. Our love story was growing and deepening with each day.


For Valentine’s Day this year, you sent flowers as you always did. But, you also took me to the Ice Capades in Capital Centre.

The biggest thing that happened this year is that you had decided not to re-enlist, so we were getting out of the NAVY. I gave my notice to Dowell and Dowell in February to allow time for them to hire and for me to help transition and train. They were very gracious even though I had been there less than two years. They took me out to eat and gave me a bracelet as a good-bye gift.

You had 30 days leave, so we were able to leave Arlington on June 1 even though your last day was officially June 30. This was good, because you would still be paid through June and neither of us had a job yet. Even though we had put out applications within 180 miles of Ashland for several months, no jobs had transpired yet. So, we decided to settle in Louisville as the largest city in Kentucky for two reasons: (1) More opportunity for jobs, especially in IT as it was a new field at the time, and (2) We’d have a better chance of our children staying close when they grew up. Now, remember that these children hadn’t been born yet, but we were planning.

The NAVY came and packed up our furniture and delivered it to our apartment on Brownsboro Road. We stayed with Charlie and Mary for a few days when we first arrived, and they helped us select an apartment. We felt like we were really moving up now, because the cost of living in Louisville was so much less than Arlington. For about the same cost of our one bedroom in Arlington, we could now get a two bedroom – with air conditioning. Woo-hoo!

And, within less than two weeks after our arrival in Louisville, I got a job with Arthur Young – one of the “Big 8” accounting firms at the time. At about this same time, you were hired with Dairymen. You went the first night for orientation, but no one showed up to orient you. This happened for the next two nights, and you decided this company was just too disorganized to be a good fit for you. We had trusted God this far and continued to follow his leading. We talked often about how that was such a good decision as LG&E came along soon. So, by the end of June, we were secure in Louisville with jobs. We were convinced that was God.

One funny thing that I remember from this Summer is that you decided to have a yard sale with the stuff we had from Arlington and no longer needed. Now, remember, we were living in an interior apartment with no yard. Yet, because of your out-going personality and interpersonal skills, we did pretty well. I had teased and razzed you about this little escapade the whole time and was quite surprised when you proved me wrong.

Fall brought the end to my Grandpa Rardon’s life on September 29, 1985. We went with the rest of the family to Ravenswood, West Virginia for the funeral. We were the first to arrive as the others had farther to drive. The Riggs were coming from New York; the Earl Rardons from South Carolina, and the Edlers from Ohio. As the Edlers were coming in, you said to Dad, “Carl, here comes your sister.” You had never met Lois but she looked just like me. I thought it was funny that you recognized her right away.

Fall also brought Thanksgiving. We were now about 2 1/2 hours from Ashland, so we went there to celebrate. And, we returned to Ashland for Christmas for the traditional festivities.

Winter 1984

Winter brought in Thanksgiving. We celebrated this year by inviting all our NAVY friends that couldn’t afford to go home either. I baked a turkey and the fixin’s (stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, green beans, rolls, etc.) and spread it out on the small table we bought for our eat in kitchen and the kitchen counter top.

About 20 people piled in our little one-bedroom apartment with each bringing a covered dish or alcohol. We laughed that more brought alcohol. We crowded in the living room and kitchen, but it was nice just to be together with friends.

This is yet again another example of your reaching out to others to provide some sense of belonging that we all need. You were always so generous and giving!

For Christmas, we were able to go back to Ashland and celebrate with family. And the rest was daily life in Arlington, Virginia.

Spring/Summer 1984

The Spring brought back warmer temperature, and we were excited that we could afford a window air conditioner that cooled the entire apartment. We were also able to buy a couch and loveseat with a coffee table and end table so we had furniture in the living room other than two folding director chairs and a plastic table. We were moving up.

Then, a bit later, we bought a computer desk, a computer, and a Dot-Matrix printer. We thought we were pretty advanced with a printer in the home. I can still hear it clacking to print the dots.

Summer brought our first anniversary. You sent a dozen roses to my office. They smelled so pretty, because they were “wood” roses. They were beautiful and lasted at least a week. We went out to eat at Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour Restaurants. I loved that restaurant, because they had really fancy ice cream desserts.

Then, we went home to eat the cake topper that we had saved from the wedding and have champagne.

The rest of the Summer was daily married life.

Fall/Winter 1983

Sometime in early Fall, you took a second job at Dart Drug store. It was always so comforting to know that you would do anything for me and us. This job was mostly to save to buy a second car. But, we used the discount you received to buy our first Christmas tree.

Mom, Dad, Jason, and Kim came up to visit in early Fall. We toured the DC exhibits, rode paddle boats and generally played tourist during that time.

We went to Ashland for Thanksgiving and went about daily life in Arlington.

We went to Ashland for Christmas and began the tradition of celebrating with Nana and Grand-Dad the morning of Christmas, then going over to the Roses in the afternoon.

New Year’s was never a big deal for us. I don’t remember what we did, but we usually just stayed in and watched the ball drop on television.

I tried my hand at a second job at David’s Bridal, but working seven days a week was brutal. I know you were doing it at Dart Drug store, but I was your little girl and you never wanted to see me suffer. You took making me happy seriously. So, I began looking for a job that paid more. In late January/early February, I landed a job as Bookkeeper for Dowell and Dowell using the Accounting classes I had taken at ACC. With that salary and the NAVY, of course, we could afford for you to quit at Dart Drug and let a loan for a 1980 Blue Thunderbird. You loved that car. And, I loved buying our first big expense together.

The rest of winter was daily life in Arlington with you working at the Annex and me at Dowell and Dowell. We spent the weekends doing laundry and catching up from the week along with going to the mall, etc.

Starting Out as Husband and Wife

Once we arrived as husband and wife in Arlington, I began applying for jobs.  God has always taken care of us as I found a position as a Customer Service Representative for EBSCO Subscription Services in Springfield, Virginia, before June ended.  We only had one car, so I took the Metro to work.  That was good because I didn’t have to fight traffic.  Even thought I was going against traffic with going from Arlington to Springfield, this was still traffic that I was not used to.  The bus dropped me off at the back of the office complex, and I walked a beaten path up a grassy hill to the EBSCO offices.  You continued as DP3 at the Naval Annex.  

One of the first things I remember is a spat we had over money in the first couple weeks of marriage.  I was going to go cool off and left the apartment.  (Actually, that’s not really true.  My “fight” mode is to rob you of my company when I’m mad.  You always thought that was hilarious, because it’s logical that you wouldn’t want to be around me anyway if you were mad.)  I got out to the sidewalk and realized I couldn’t get in the car, because we couldn’t afford gas just to go running around.  So, I sat down on the stoop of the apartment building until I got hot.  I thought about going in and calling my mother, but then realized we couldn’t afford long distance charges.  So, I went back in and said, “I guess I’ll talk to you. You’re all I’ve got.” We talked a lot over the years about how those two years were so good for our marriage.  They forced us to work together and form an inseparable team.  

One thing of significance this summer is that our little one bedroom apartment did not have air conditioning. We spent a lot of time at the Springfield Mall just to get cool.  And, we joked that if we couldn’t afford food, we ate fancy. We had a credit card to Shilito’s, and they had a Benigan’s restaurant.  We loved to eat there.  

Our apartment didn’t have a washer and dryer, either, but the apartment complex had a laundromat of sorts.  We’d spend our evenings making and eating dinner, watching television, and running back and forth to wash clothes.  One of your favorite songs is Alan Jackson’s “Livin’ on Love” because it tells our story so well.  We were definitely livin’ on love in those early years, but those were some of the happiest because we had each other. You are not only my husband, but my best friend and mentor!  I will forever love you!!!


The Honeymoon

After the wedding, we drove over to Ironton, Ohio, and stayed in a nice hotel for our wedding night.  But, before we got there, we realized we were hungry.  We had been so busy and excited during the reception that neither of us ate very much.  We didn’t see any restaurants open, but we did see a small deli.  So, we stopped and bought ham, bread, mayonnaise and a bottle of champagne. 

When we got to the room, the hotel restaurant, including room service, was closed, so we couldn’t get utensils.  We spread mayonnaise with a finger nail file from my purse to make the sandwiches and drank champagne from plastic cups in the room.  We were married, on our honeymoon, and happy as ever. We didn’t need fancy things. We just needed each other. 

The next morning, I called Mom and Dad.  I didn’t really have anything to say. I just wanted to hear the operator say, “Collect call from Mrs. Rose.” 

After a leisurely morning, we got up and got ready to go back to Ashland to give our good-byes and head to Arlington. But, the family wanted us to stay, so we did – until the 10th when your vacation was up and our rent was due.  We slept in Kim’s room as the bed and furniture in my room were in our apartment in Arlington.  It’s funny that after all these years, no one – not even Kim – remembers where she slept.  We guessed it was probably on one of the couches in the family room.  

We just visited with family the remainder of the time in Ashland.  

Introducing Mr. and Mrs. Robert Rose

After the pictures, the music began at 6:00. This was the early ’80s when the tradition was that you couldn’t wear tuxes, especially a tux with tails until after 6:00. Hence, that was the start time for the wedding. It was also supposed to be good luck to marry on the up-sweep of the clock. So, the service began at 6:30.

It was not your typical 15 minute Protestant service. You thought it hilarious that our wedding lasted almost an hour. But, this was my moment to shine, and I made every moment count. The actual details are in the wedding albums, so I won’t reiterate them here. Yet, one thing that I always thought was sweet is that you leaned in and asked if you could kiss me during the prayer after the Lord’s supper. We were kneeling on the prayer benches facing one another. I whispered, “Later.” But, I always appreciated that you love me so much. Today, as I write this, I wear a bracelet that says just that – “I love her so much” in your handwriting. The kids read this in your Papa book as you described meeting their grandmother, and Lauren had it made for me for Christmas. I wear it each day along with our wedding ring to remind me that I’ll always be Mrs. Robert E. Rose. I love you forever and ever!!

The Big Day

This was the best day of my life at this point.  I got to become Mrs. Robert Edward Rose.  I awoke early – like a child on Christmas morning.  And, you did as well, but I had told you you that you couldn’t see me until I had my wedding dress on for pictures.  So, you went down to the park to watch Little League Baseball.  I thought it very special that you like to encourage those kids.  You always wanted to give to others what Fred and Linda had given to you – unconditional love and encouragement.  Then, you had lunch and went over to the church to help the crew of family members set up.

While I was back at the house doing my fingernails, hair and make-up, the family (Mom, Dad, Kim, Barney, Jason, Greg, Linda, Scott and Mark) along with other friends from church were setting up for the reception.  The sanctuary had been set up the day before for the rehearsal, but we had the rehearsal dinner in the fellowship hall.  So, it had to be re-set and cleaned for the reception.  As Granny was the “chef” for the reception, it was the family’s job to set up.  🙂 

I always thought is a loving gesture on Granny’s part to prepare all the food, but more appreciate it now as I understand how much work that was now that I am almost her age at the time. (She was 59; I am now 57 as I write this.) 

I joined the crew for set-up at about 2:00 as Daddy sent for me to make sure everything was set up as I wanted.  Yet, I wasn’t in my dress yet, so we worked together n finishing the set up for the reception.  Then, at about 3:00, we went to the rooms set up for the Bridal party and the Groomsmen to dress.  

As I think of dressing, I’m reminded that I forgot to include you and the Groomsmen when I talked about the planning. The wedding was pink, but you thought that a little too feminine for the guys.  So, they wore burgundy tuxes.  But, your all white tux with tails is the story.  In the planning, we discussed why the bride traditionally wears white as you were the typical guy and didn’t know anything about weddings.  You decided that you wanted to wear all white as well for the same symbolism.  And, because I had made such a big deal about the dress, you wanted tails on your tux.  

So, we changed into our dress and tux for pictures, which began at 4:00.  My favorite picture is the one above where you are sitting on a pew and I am looking into your eyes as it’s not a “staged” picture.  We were relaxing a bit between the pictures and the service.  The photographer saw and snapped the picture.  It shows genuine love.  


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!

On Leave and Together

You got a month leave between stations (October 12 – November 31, 1982). We were so excited! You brought me several bouquets of flowers over this time.  We carved our first pumpkin for Halloween and insisted on me sitting with it.  🙂  

I continued going to classes, but you took me and picked me up. Most of the time Kim drove herself, but sometimes she would tag along with us. I remember being so proud to show my handsome fiancé to my friends as you chauffeured me back and forth to school. I also continued my job at Balloon World, and you drove me to deliveries as well. Sometimes you would dress up as well, and they got two for the price of one.

On a warm day in October, we went to Carter Caves with Kim and Barney. They decided to take a hike, where they soon discovered the path was steep and slim. We had such fun listening to Kim yell at Barney the whole way while were leisurely having a picnic and enjoying one another’s company.

The rest of the month was spent visiting with my family, your family and Fields as well as going to the movies and Baskin Robbins several times. We also enjoyed walking around Central Park. Sometimes you would stop to play a pick-up basketball game while I watched. The best part was that we were getting to know one another better and falling deeper in love. Sometime during the month, we learned the NAVY was extending your leave through November 31 because of the Thanksgiving holiday. We couldn’t believe our blessings!

Leaving the Ship

During the next six weeks (September 6 – October 11, 1982),  you were training others on the ship as you were changing stations from the USS Saipan to the Naval Annex/Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia.  October 11 was your last day on the ship.  

I was taking classes at Ashland Community College (ACC) and began a job at Balloon World, where I would dress as a clown most of the time but sometimes a character like Yoda and deliver balloons.  

In your September 30 letter, you wrote, “I have a question. When did you decide you were in love with me? I fell in love with you after or during our second date.” We talked about how natural our love story began a lot over the years, but it was so sweet to read it again in your handwriting. I remember you told me you love me for the first time during that date, and I responded that I loved you, too.  So, it was during that second date for both of us.  

The letters tell a much more detailed story, so I won’t reiterate it here.  I remember that time so vividly in our lives.  Fall in love for the first time is so sweet!!! And, we were lucky enough that we were each other’s first and only love!


THE Ring

This story has been told almost as many times as the “engaged in four days” story through the years.

You flew home on Friday, September 3. Your flight landed at 3:30. When you saw me, you handed me a barf bag. I thought you used it for trash and began to drop it in the trash can. You said, “Oh, no, that’s not trash,” in quite a calm manner and told me that my ring was in there. You thought that was hilarious. I, in turn, through that yelling or creating a scene might have been called for as I almost threw away such a priceless treasure. Yet, this was part of your sense of humor.

I immediately opened the bag and put the ring on without giving yo a chance to do the get down on one knee thing. Yet, that was never your personality anyway. You were quietly romantic!

I always thought the timing of this visit was special. You had written, “Which weekend in September would you like me to come home?” I, of course, said the first one, so you made that happen. I was convinced from the very beginning that you could do anything. You were my Superman.

We had set the date for August 20, 1983, at this time to give me time to finish the Summer semester at ACC. Now, the explain why I went to ACC because it is all about us. In the very beginning, I wanted to go to Harvard. My group of nerdy friends from high school decided to all apply to Harvard to see who could get in, first, then who could get the most in scholarships. I got in, but the cost was still going to be more than Mom and Dad could afford even with scholarships. The next choice was Mount Vernon Nazarene College with Jim and a bunch of other friends from church. I applied and was even assigned a room-mate that I had already met when we went up for the regional choral competition held at Mount Vernon as that was the regional college for the Nazarene church. Yet, this was in late Spring 1982 during the school year – before I met you.

When I met you, everything changed. We fell in love so quickly that I wanted to spend as much time with you as possible. If I was at Mount Vernon, you couldn’t visit because I would be in a dorm and Public Displays of Affection (PDA) were frowned upon at Mount Vernon. So, I instantly made a decision to stay home and go to ACC. This was actually good for all. It would be much less expensive for Mom and Dad; I would be home with the family longer before we married; and I could be with you more.

You came into my life and transformed both me and it. I, all of the sudden, had confidence that I never had before. I was never the same after I loved you. You made me better! And, you always said the same thing. We were a great team!!

We spend these few days just being together. We loved going to the movies and stopping at Baskin Robbins just a few stores down from the cinema in the strip mall on U.S. 60 toward downtown. The cinema is still there in 2021. You had to fly back on Sunday. Your flight left at 3:30, which gave us exactly three days together.

Cards, Flowers and Letters

You were back on the USS Saipan from July 19 through September 2. You sent me a dozen roses almost immediately when you got back to ship. I got them on the 21st.

The mail on the ship seemed to bulk ship only a couple days a week, so I took to writing the actual dates on the outside of the envelopes. I was so funny when I got the boxes back out. They spoke so much of our personalities. Yours were piled in a shoe box. Mine were in date order in a fancy box.

This was a long separation, because you were assigned a special project around the end of July and couldn’t leave until it was finished. And, you had taken all of your leaves day, except holidays, to be with me in June. So, it was during this separation that you began the tape exchange. It was originally an Alvin the Chipmunk cassette that you bought at a bargain table. You taped over it on one side with what you were doing and romantic, much stuff. I then taped over you with a return message. We continued that exchange throughout our time apart. We kept the tape until we got it out when we moved into this house (Wooded Forest Road). As we were moving boxes, we rediscovered our boxes and thought it would be fun to listen to that tape. It had been about 14 years ago, so the tape was indistinguishable. It was a bargain tape to begin with after all.

You bought my ring during this time. From both memory as well as re-reading the letters I can’t tell who’s more anxious – You to give it or me to see it. Your love has always been so deep and sincere. It was and continues to be my foundation.

You bought the ring in early August and picked it up on August 14 when you went to the mall with your ship friends, Mose and Chet. Most of part of the “ose” brothers with you, and Chet was a really good friend and was trying to find a girl, too. Those stories are in your letters, but you always told them so much better.

“Stolen” Time

You had Friday, July 16, off so you came home for the weekend. We each had counted the days until we got to be together again. You rode to Ashland with a friend from Ohio who was going home on leave and then went back to Norfolk on the bus. I thought, and not think it all the more, how sweet it was that you missed me so much that you were willing to take the bus back. That was a long trip.

We didn’t do anything grand during these days, but each day with you during this time deepened our love and our relationship. We were both sure that God smiled on us when he brought us together and that he blessed our relationship because the love came so naturally. We talked a lot through the years how we loved each other from the very beginning. You said you knew you loved me during or after our second date, and I wholeheartedly agree.

Long Distance

July 1, 1982, began the long distance part of our relationship. We wrote each other at least daily and called frequently, but we had to be careful about calls because this was in the day of long-distance charges. Each minute ran up the phone bill.

Bob talking to me on the phone in his room on base.

We each kept our letters – mine in a fancy box with blue flowers, yours in a shoe box. We always laughed at how that represented our personalities. I was thrilled that you were romantic enough to keep yours. I would soon learn that you were much more romantic that I.

This first separation lasted two weeks (July 1 – July 15). You were on the ship during this time and wrote such romantic letters. I love to read them over and over. It’s as if I can hear your voice and recall your wonderful sense of humor directly from your mouth.

Bob at his desk on the ship

The ship went to New York over the July 4th holidays, and you got to see two Broadway shows. Because you were in uniform, you got to go backstage. Raquel Welch, the star of “Woman of the Year,” signed your program and kissed you. You loved that story and told it several times through the years.

The teen group from church went to King’s Island one weekend during this time. Mom chaperoned, so Jason went along as Dad worked Saturdays. We all wrote a postcard to you. I always thought it was so special how the family embraced you from the very beginning. Mom always said that you were easy to love, because you were so genuine and giving.

I spent a large part of my time already planning the wedding You always poked fun at our “over the top” wedding, but you actually loved how girly-girl I am.

Last Days before the long-distance relationship

This time (June 27-30, 1982) was spent being together and taking care of your car. We were engaged and had weathered a storm, so we seemed an “old” couple by now even though we had truly only met two weeks before.

I remember the night of June 30 as clearly as if it was yesterday. We were saying our good-byes for the night as you were leaving the next day to return to the ship. You had to be back by July 2, because the Saipan was going to New York for a PR tour over the July 4th holiday. As we were saying our good-byes, I clumsily said, “Why do you have to leave?” You looked at me confused as if to say “Because I have to get back to the ship”. I explained that I meant leave me, not simply leave. I was worried that this might just be a “summer thing” for this handsome sailor. You reminded me that you loved me and would never leave me. Your words were so genuine that I knew at that moment that we were forever. So, even though I was sad that you were leaving, I was so happy that I found my forever love.

The next day, July 1, I drove you to the airport. You and Don couldn’t get your car in working order, and we hadn’t heard anything from insurance so we hadn’t bought a new one yet. So, you flew back. I wrote my address along with “I love Robert E. Rose” on the airline folder, which is the start of the letters in the box.

This two weeks was the happiest I had been in my life. I was so happy to have fallen in love with you. It happened so naturally that I was sure God sent you to me.

Our First Trip

We left early Saturday (June 26, 1982) morning to make the most of day. We decided not to stay the night as we were still so early in our relationship. We visited at their apartment, where we talked and simply visited most of the day.

Toward the evening, around 6:00, we headed back to Ashland. At the end of the street was a four way stop. You reached over to kiss me after you stopped, then pulled out. A couple of UK football players barreled through the stop and hit us sending the car spinning. After the car came to a stop, we both got out to talk to the people in the other car and assess the damage. We watched them throw at least one case of beer in the field on the other side of the street before they even bothered to come over and talk to us. They then insisted that you had pulled out in front of them and wouldn’t accept responsibility for drinking, under age at that, and driving nor running the stop sign.

Before the police arrived, a camera crew happened to pass by. The passenger got out of the van to ask if anyone was hurt. When we said no, he got back in the van, and they proceeded on their way. We always thought that was interesting, but it was the early ’80s and the beginning of biased/entertainment journalism. We would later lament the loss of unbiased journalism.

Once the police arrived, the football players kept to their story, so the accident was written as your fault. I still feel that it was pitiful that the police took the story of the UK football players over a US Navy Sailor. Yet, we always thought the accident was due to the kiss. You thought you would have probably seen that they weren’t going to stop had you not been distracted.

It was an expensive kiss. The car was totaled, so we had it towed to Ross and Mendy’s and they drove us back to Ashland. You sat up and allowed me to lay in your arms with my body stretched out in the seat so that I could sleep. I still remember the comfort of laying in your arms after than rough evening. That was the first time that you put your feelings and needs beneath mine. Your car was totaled, but you were concerned about me. That would be a running theme throughout our journey. You always put me first and took such care to take care of me.

When we got to Ashland, Ross and Mendy dropped us off at Mom and Dads. I took you to your parents’ house in the car Kim and I were sharing.

First week as Fiancés

We were just thrilled to have this week together. I was honored that you used the last of your leave on the ship to be with me. We were an engaged couple now, and it seemed both of us were over the moon. We spent every waking hour together.

On Tuesday night, I had a Mary Kay part as I tried my hand as a consultant this summer. You were going to go down to the park to play basketball during the party, but on your way you passed a car pulled over to the side of the road that seemed to need help. This was long before cell phones where these people could call for help, so you pulled over to offer a hand. After checking out the car, you realized that they just needed gas. This was on Rose Road, less than a mile from Mom and Dad’s house where I was having the party, so you went down the the little market at the end of the road, Lyon’s (that has since gone out of business) to get a gas can and gas. They didn’t sell gas cans, so you came back to Mom and Dad’s to see if Dad had a gas can. I was pleased, because the girls at the party were church friends, and they got to meet you. They thought you were so handsome. They were also impressed with your good deed. I was so proud to be your girl. Dad, of course, had a gas can. You took it and went back to help the guy. By the time you were finished, the party was over. You never made it down to the park, but I was thrilled that my friends go to meet my handsome hunk.

Sometime during this week, Ross and Mendy invited us down to their apartment in Lexington, so they could officially meet me. Since we just had one weekend before you had to go back to the ship, we planned the trip for that Saturday, June 26. More on that next time.

The Engagement – June 19, 1982

Although you had unofficially mentioned marriage before, this is the day that you officially proposed – or so it seemed.

We were walking around Central Park and decided to cross the street to Stationers, a local greeting card store similar to Hallmark, to have shirts made. At this time, personalization things were altogether in one store. We had off-white quarter-length T-shirts made. Your had “Susan’s” in navy small letters on the front where a pocket would normally be and “Susan’s” in larger navy letters on the back. Mine was the same with “Bob’s”. I wish we still had these shirts, but we loved them so much that we wore them. However, pictures of them are in our dating album.

While the shirts were being made, we walked around the store. I stopped and looked through the wedding announcements because I’ve always loved all things wedding. You were looking over my shoulder at them as I am so much shorter than you. When I got to the announcement that actually did become ours, you said, “That’s what ours should look like.” I turned around, agreed, and hugged you. And, we considered ourselves officially engaged.

The Wedding Announcement/Invitation

You then told me that you had called the day before and were able to extend your leave until June 30, so you wouldn’t have to leave the following day. And, that is how we were engaged four days after we met.

Meeting the Parents

I realize now that I don’t remember the first time I met your family, but it was sometime between Day 2 and the proposal. We just went into your house like I had always been a part of you. It wasn’t a grand “Meet the parents” or “Meet the family”. By Thursday, June 17, morning, we had “sealed the deal” in our minds and rather thought others felt the same. And, sadly, they are no longer here to ask. You lost your Dad when you were young (31) much like our children did, and your mom followed in 2012 when you were 50.

My parents had already met you the first night. Mother says she remembers the night in detail. As I wrote earlier that Mom followed Km in answering the door, she remembers that she was sitting on the couch in the living room when you came to the door like a gentleman. (Some guys had taken to pulling up to the house and honking as women were hollering for liberation at the time. – But, that’s another story. We thought that was disrespectful.) She got up from the couch and thought you were quite handsome with those broad shoulders and beautiful eyes. I had forgotten, but she reminded me that Dad came out from either the bedroom or bathroom, as he was in that hall, and met you as well. So, you met them before you met me.

Dating Days

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You planned to go fishing with your Dad in the morning of this day. Since it was so late when you got home, from our first date, you decided to just stay up. You were worried you’d oversleep your 4:00 a.m. time that you had set with your Dad. You often talked about your fishing trips with your Dad. They were a bonding time for you all as your childhood with him was not ideal. After your fishing trip, you slept to catch up from the night before.

When you woke up, you called me to ask for a second date – the first, only, and last time you officially asked me for a date. I always thought that was a special part of our relationship. It spoke to the “love at first sight” that our love story is. We spoke of that often over the years and both agreed that we didn’t truly believe in love at first sight, but we somehow knew from almost the very beginning that were destined to be.

You picked me up at 6:00 just as you had the night before. That I remember for sure, but we often tried to recall what we actually did or where we went. We decided that we probably went out to eat, but that wasn’t the important thing about the night. The important thing is that we became a couple that night. We agreed that you would pick me up in the morning so that we could spend as much time together as possible as you were going back to the ship on Monday. That meant that you’d have to leave on Sunday.

After this date, we were pretty much inseparable. We spent as much together as we possibly could.

Later, in one of your letters, you ask me when I knew that I loved you and said that it was during this date that you knew you loved me. I agreed that it was during this date that I knew as well.

Day 2

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You planned to go fishing with your Dad in the morning of this day. Since it was so late when you got home, from our first date, you decided to just stay up. You were worried you’d oversleep your 4:00 a.m. time that you had set with your Dad. You often talked about your fishing trips with your Dad. They were a bonding time for you all as your childhood with him was not ideal. After your fishing trip, you slept to catch up from the night before.

When you woke up, you called me to ask for a second date – the first, only, and last time you officially asked me for a date. I always thought that was a special part of our relationship. It spoke to the “love at first sight” that our love story is. We spoke of that often over the years and both agreed that we didn’t truly believe in love at first sight, but we somehow knew from almost the very beginning that were destined to be.

You picked me up at 6:00 just as you had the night before. That I remember for sure, but we often tried to recall what we actually did or where we went. We decided that we probably went out to eat, but that wasn’t the important thing about the night. The important thing is that we became a couple that night. We agreed that you would pick me up in the morning so that we could spend as much time together as possible as you were going back to the ship on Monday. That meant that you’d have to leave on Sunday.

After this date, we were pretty much inseparable. We spent as much together as we possibly could.

Later, in one of your letters, you ask me when I knew that I loved you and said that it was during this date that you knew you loved me. I agreed that it was during this date that I knew as well.

Rocky III

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We were a bit late for the showing we had planned to see. I always thought it sweet of you that you didn’t say anything about me running late. The next showing didn’t begin for a couple hours. Jim and his girlfriend decided to go off shopping on their own and meet us at the theatre when the movie started. So, we began walking around the mall. You noticed a Putt-Putt golf place in the mall and suggested we play.

As we were golfing, you noticed that my jeans had my name as if I was the designer on the my back pocket and commented on it. I thought it pretty brazen of you to admit right out that you were staring at my butt, but I was actually flattered. I explained that I thought it was silly for people to be wearing other people’s names and paying extra for it at that, so I had my own name sewn in. You thought that was hilarious at the time and continued to. This was one of your favorite stories through the years.

After we finished Putt-Putt, there was still time before the movies. We went to Baskin Robbins. I ordered a Diet Coke and you got a double dip cone – Rocky Road and Pralines and Cream, which I would learn later was your favorite. You told me that you were on a diet about a year ago and lost 100 pounds. When we finished our ice cream and coke, we headed back to the theatre.

In the movies, you selected a row about half-way down and allowed Jim and Carla and me to go in first. So, that was how were seated with you to my right. At the fight scene, I whispered that Rocky won and explained that my little brother had already seen the movie. At the romantic scene with Adrian, you leaned down and kissed me – our first kiss.

After the movies, we dropped Jim and his girlfriend off at her house then you drove me home. You walked me to the door, and I invited you in. We had gone to the 9:00 move, so it was almost midnight by now. We sat on the couch in my parent’s living room and talked (and kissed) for almost two hours. It was close to 2:00 a.m. when you went back to get Jim. He was sitting outside, because it was long past curfew. He was not happy. (Reminds me of the Snow White dwarf joke that you loved to tell.)

And, that was the beginning.

Our Love Story

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As part of my healing, I am writing our love story. I’m writing it out in my own handwriting, so that our grandchildren will have both the story and my handwriting as a memory. But, I have decided to share it here as well. I thought it might help others through the commitment that is marriage as well as grief.

As I was writing, I noticed that I was writing to him. As the reader of this blog, I felt that you should know the voice so that it would make better sense.

Our love story officially began on June 15, 1982. A few days before, I was sitting with Bob’s brother Jim and his girlfriend at the time and my sister Kim and her boyfriend at the time. Jim’s girlfriend and Kim’s boyfriend happened to be brother and sister, so we were at their house just hanging out. I was lamenting that I was the only one not coupled up. Jim suggested that I go out on a blind date with his brother as he was on recruit duty for the NAVY and was in town. Jim had talked about him so glowingly that it didn’t take much encouragement. (Bob had made sure the younger two, Jim and his little sister, had everything that he didn’t have in high school – class rings, money to go to prom, etc. I so admired his generosity from the beginning. He was so Godly!) When Jim showed me your official NAVY picture, I was excited to meet the handsome man in the photo.

You arrived promptly at 6:00 and knocked on the door yourself. I thought it was pretty confident that you didn’t send Jim to the door or even have him walk up with you. I was still getting ready, so Kim answered the door with Mom following to meet you as well. You handled that with the grace that I soon learned was one of your greatest strengths. You were such a people person!

You arrived promptly at 6:00 and knocked on the door yourself. I thought it was pretty confident that you didn’t send Jim to the door or even have him walk up with you. I was still getting ready, so Kim answered the door with Mom following to meet you as well. You handled that with the grace that I soon learned was one of your greatest strengths. You were such a people person!

Once I came up (about five minutes later), you walked me out to your Honda Accord. You opened my door and made sure I was safe, then went around to the driver’s seat. We were then on our way to the Huntington Mall to watch Rocky III. On our way, I noticed some pictures laying on the console in the middle of our seats. They were of you working in the Data Center on the ship, but computers were brand new (Remember, this is 1982) so I had never seen a Data Center. I asked, “So what is it you do?” You politely explained computers and computer storage.

Then, we were at the mall….