On this date in the halcyon days of 1985 I took Kim Hager to be my wife, for better or worse, rich and poorer … You know the drill. We were married at the gazebo in her parents’ back yard by a preacher who was either Baptist or Pentecostal, I think. He was related to Kim somehow. An uncle, I think. He lectured us on the sanctity of marriage before agreeing to perform the ceremony. It was a hot day there in Enid. My maternal grandmother and both paternal grandparents were still alive then and they came to the wedding.
Looking back, I wonder how many people gathered there in the back yard thought:
A) She’s pregnant
B) These two kids will never make this last
C) Both A and B
Well, she wasn’t pregnant, and so far we’ve stuck together, but I tell you, there has been better and worse days, richer and certainly poorer. Neither of us had full-time jobs at the time. Kim was working part-time at Scheffe Prescription Shoppe and I was a “courtesy clerk” at a Safeway grocery store. We rented our first house, a run down two-bedroom roach hole (shared by many mice) for $175 per month and our honeymoon was a trip to Branson, Mo. I was 19 and Kim was 17 (she turned 18 two weeks later).
Regrets? Yeah, I have a regret. I regret that we didn’t hire a real photographer. Kim’s aunt had decided she was a photographer, so she was enlisted to take pictures. We got a roll or two of mostly unfocused snapshots with cluttered backgrounds, and nothing at all of the reception because the aunt got mad about something and, as far as I remember, didn’t even go to the reception.
A couple of years ago I picked out the best posed picture of the bunch and had it blown up to an 8×10 and put in an elaborate wood frame. It was the first time we’d had a wedding photo on our walls. I look at that photo now and see a skinny young kid who still wore glasses with half-frames and a dark brown tint. He’s wearing a white tuxedo and smiling as he holds the girl he’s dated for almost five years. Where did that kid go?
Kim, on the other hand, doesn’t look much different. That’s so unfair. Although, I suppose I got the better end of that deal, really.
But anyway, I wonder what those kids would do differently if I could go back now and tell them what they’re going to face. Numerous job changes, career-changing injury, four kids, college, financial hardship, moving from house to house and town to town in search of better employment, and, of course, many fights, nights spent alone on the couch, blaming the other for whatever happened, and all that stuff. Would they have gone through with the wedding?
Of course! Young love never listens to anything but its own pounding rhythm.
Twenty-one years later, I’d do it again. I can’t imagine life without her, or the four kids she’s given me. I still love her, and it looks like I always will. She’s gotten pretty good at dealing with that fate.