For those of you who have not been lurking here all this time here are the cliff notes version of the life and times of this old retired couple. But, you may prefer to check out the following two links for the rest of the story as written at the time it happened. First written in December, 2006 and the second is in May, 2007.
Old Salt was living in San Diego and I was here on the ozark plateau in the middle of Missouri's wine country. He had just retired from the Sheriff's Dept. and I was working the nightshift at the local big box store.
Thanksgiving day 2006 the Old Salt found my (very over the top) profile on Yahoo Personals (part of it can be found here) and sent me a nice note on its originality. I got the message on Black Friday. We exchanged a few emails and then phone numbers. We began having marathon conversations each day when I got home from work. Two weeks into our meeting the Old Salt explained he had been communicating for many weeks with a lady in North Carolina and they had plans to meet over Christmas when she would be in California to visit her Mother.
That information put me in a tailspin. I could not let him meet that other lady without having met me first. But, how? It was the holiday season and I worked in retail. It was too far to drive and I had never been west of Kansas City in my life. I had also never been on an airplane. Going to meet a stranger in a place I thought of as LaLa Land was insane. Besides my nine brothers would hog tie me and lock me away if they found out I was thinking such nonsense. What to do?
The only answer was to just bite the bullet and go to California. A check of the work schedule told me it had to be right now. I had my last two connecting days off until after New Year starting the next day. With a few phones calls I managed to switch schedules with a co-worker giving me three whole days to make the trip. A couple more calls and I had my plane ticket, and by sacrificing some sleep I was able to pack and be ready to head to the airport straight from work after my sift that night.
It was five am on December 12, 2006 and I had managed to drive the sixty minutes to the airport, find the long term parking, get the shuttle to the check in area and clear security without a problem. With forty minutes to boarding the hardest part of leaving was still ahead of me. The dreaded phone calls to let my family know what I was doing in case this guy in California turned out to be someone who had a thing for cages in his basement. Plus, I still had not told the man in question that I was on my way. What if he already had plans? What if he was actually married? Or worse, he did not want to met me?
All my worry was for nothing. It was too late for the family to stop me. The only hitch with the plane flight was my fear of stepping over the crack between the plane and the boarding ramp. I arrived in California without getting lost, and this adorable, delightful guy was waiting at the bottom of the escalator when I arrived. We spend three wonderful days together and then he saw me off at the airport. I had a very uneventful trip home and went straight from the airport back to work. Jet lagged, tired but walking on clouds.
Less than a week later, during one of our phone conversations, I made some derogatory remark about my job. The Old Salt promptly said:
"I hate that company and I wish you would quit working for them.
I said: " I can't quit my job. I need the insurance until I am old enough for Medicare,"
He said: Well, I don't like it. Besides I don't want my wife to work."
I said: "Is that a proposal."
He said: "Yes, I guess it is."
So, as soon as I hung up I got into my car and went into work and gave them my notice for the end of the year. The Old Salt never met the lady from NC and on January third 2007 I took my second trip to San Diego and stayed a month. I returned home to make plans for our wedding and to make room for a new person in my small condo. March 22, 2007 I took my last plane trip to California and we were married in Nevada two days later.
We quickly learned that all the major events in both our lives were surprisingly similar. We had similar upbringings. We graduated high school, married and had children within months of each other. Each had one child, He a boy and me a girl. We each had a thirty-seven year marriage that ended within weeks of each other. His in divorce, mine in death. We each had dysfunctional spouses that were more like having another child to care for than a mate. The Old Salt likes to quote Forrest Gump and say that we are "like peas and carrots."
It didn't take long for the Old Salt to also learn that my busy, crazy life had left me with little time for all the interests he was able to pursue during his many years of world travel and time at sea, thanks to the US Navy. When it came to things like literature, movies, music, art, current events, photography and travel I had lead a very sheltered life. He has made it his mission to correct all of those lapses in my education. But, on the other side of the coin I had more street smarts, could squeeze pennies into dollars, was sometimes faster on the uptake and had a better sense of direction. I was also the better organizer and problem solver.
So for the last four years I have been living a fairy tale life. We spend every waking moment touching, talking, laughing and trying to cram the thirty-seven years we spent with the wrong person into the time the good Lord has left for us. He opens doors for me, makes sure I always have the support of his arm on uncertain ground, sweetens my tea and gives me part of his hash browns when we go out for breakfast. He shovels the neighbors walk and regularly checks in on the ninety-six year old man we met who lives across town. The radio in our car has never been turned on since we met. When not in a conversation (or I'm asleep) we use that time to read to each other. We visit museums, theaters, and art galleries. Our Netflix queue is constantly maxed out. The Old Salt has learned to enjoy a few of my passions as well. He is the first man I have known who seems willing to visit resale shops, flea markets, antique stores and yard sales. He has even gotten to where he can survive fifteen minutes in a "girly" store before the life starts to be sucked out of him. He corrects my grammar to soften my ozarkian way of speaking. He edits my blog post so all my then's become than's and my sentences are all in the same tense. I step on his toes when he gets a bit long winded turning listeners glassy eyed. We debate, discuss and sometime argue over a variety of topics. We have even had to make a few of those "agree to disagree" packs to keep harmony in our life.
This man loves me more than anyone one else ever has. I have no doubt of that. He shows me so in dozens of big and small ways each day. After thirty years in the Navy he would rather not be around the water but, he surprised me with a trip to the beach at Del Mar because he knows that as a midwesterner I have a love of the sun and sand. After traveling the world he would rather stay put in one spot but he purchased a camper so that he could be sure that I get my fill of travel on a social security budget.
I have known many kinds of love in my life. Starting with my first case of puppy love when I was eight, up to the day my first husband died. I always expected that I would remarry someday. And I knew that I could choose to love the right person. I never expected to actually fall in love again at my age. But, how could I not have fallen head over heals for this wonderful, adoring and delightful old sailor.
Happy Anniversary Sweetheart.