Saturday, September 22, 2012

on Leave a Comment

The Love Of My Life

When my wife first came to my attention, she didn’t know about it. I fell in love, absolutely and unendingly in love. It was on the school bus to and from Milford Mill High School, in Baltimore County, Maryland. She was in the eleventh grade and I was in the tenth. I guess the song is true: “Older women, make beautiful lovers”. I have teased her each year that from October to May, she is my ‘old lady’. I don’t remember seeing any more of her than her hair and face. She was so beautiful: I can still feel the exaltation I felt, and I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. Day after day she filled my heart with longing for her attention. I had a major problem though; she was dating a friend of mine and, in those days, you didn’t interfere with another mans woman. This was an honor thing between men. One of the best days of my life was the day I heard they were no longer together.

I think she was still oblivious of me, but after I got up the courage, I went and knocked on her door. I was very nervous and apprehensive. I was only 15 and had a tendency to hang with the lesser behaved individuals. She, on the other hand, hung with a better class of people. We only lived a block apart and basically in the same kind of house. Despite our socioeconomic equality, I knew I wasn’t good enough for her. She was everything I ever supposed the perfect woman could be.

To get back on track, I knocked on her door. A giant of a woman answered asking in an intimidating voice how she could help me. As I look back now, her older sister Gail was a tiny and very sweet girl: soft spoken and friendly. Still, it took all the courage I could muster to ask to see Ginger. I was escorted in to what I felt was a heavenly place; because that was where my love lived. We chatted a while and I asked her to go with me to a Valentines Day party at Harold Lessner’s house. She accepted the invitation and I left to go home. I don’t think my feet touched the ground on the walk home. I lived on pins and needles until the night of the party.

When the big night finally came, we had to be driven to the party as neither of us was old enough to have a driver’s license. I can’t remember who else was at the party, the volume of other people, the music played or what was served. There were only two things that stuck in my heart and memory from that party. First, was that she let me hold her hand. Second was that there was a bowl of heart shaped candies with Valentine sayings on them. I searched for one that said ‘I Love You’ but found one that better expressed what I felt. It said, “Forever Yours”. I gave the piece of candy to her. I didn’t know it, but she put that piece of candy in her jewelry box and kept it. I have teased her, over the years, that she had taken it to be a contract. From that time on, I lived with a joy I can only relate to the time that I asked Jesus into my heart, as my Lord and Savior. I realize that there are those who would take umbrage to my saying this, but, so be it. I have thought, many times, that my love for her might even be greater than my love for God: then I remember that it was God who had joined us together. This was His will for my life. It was eight years later that she was instrumental in leading me to the Lord.

We did not have an uneventful courtship. We had our times of testing. We broke up and got back together several times. The dating we each did during those times served to show us why we were meant to be together. These times served to help us appreciate each other all the more. It was February, 1959 when we had our first date, and finally got married in September of 1965. We were separated a lot of the time as she went to the University of Georgia and I went to the University of Baltimore. We lived on love letters during this time as we did during some of the time we were separated when I was in the army. Separations however, can also enable love to grow.

The kids in high school called her Georgia because of her southern accent. She had a wonderful voice and starred in the school presentation of Oklahoma. I was somewhat upset that the male star got to kiss her during the play. I got really upset later when I found out he tried to use his tongue. She said she wanted to slap him right there on the stage.

At the end of one of her summer breaks from college we were involved in a traffic accident. We were in my forty seven Buick, Roadmaster. While driving out Liberty Road, toward Liberty Dam, a car pulled from the left side of the road right in front of us; at night, with no lights on. I hit the brakes and placed my arm in front of Ginger to keep her from going into the windshield. We hit the car between its doors, bounced off of it and were slung into an oak tree beside the road. My bumper had gone under the other car and pushed the engine into the passenger compartment. This all happened in front of the state police barracks. Some of the troopers were sitting in the windows, because of the summer heat, and saw the whole thing. Nobody, in either car was seriously hurt, although both cars were totaled. The troopers took us all into the station to take statements. The old man told them that “that kid must have been going a hundred miles an hour”. The troopers told him they had seen what happened and that he had run the stop sign and had no lights on. The troopers estimated my speed at forty miles an hour, in a fifty mile an hour zone. Darn shame what happened to that car. We have always considered it our first living room, especially at Blueberry Hill and the Edmonson Drive Inn movies. The good news was that we got one more day together before she had to leave for school.

During my Easter break one year, I decided to visit Ginger at the University of Georgia. I saved up my money and prepared for the trip. I don’t remember what I did to my parents, before the trip, but my mother forbid me to go. Being bull headed, as I tended to be, I withdrew my savings from the bank, prepared my fifty two Oldsmobile and took off for Georgia. Gin called my home that night and asked for me. My mother told her I was on my way to Georgia. My father estimated that even with stops for gas and food, I averaged sixty five miles per hour on the trip. When I pulled into Athens, the transmission was so hot that it would hardly move from the traffic light, it was slipping so badly that I had to put it in low range to get it to move. It was back to normal the next day. I checked into a hotel and spent the night. The next day, I didn’t know where to find Ginger so I tried a little trick. I had loud pipes on the car, so I went to the top of the main hill and let it “back off” in low gear on the way down. It worked and she found me.

We decided to visit her sister in Bristol, Virginia so we took off. In the mountains, on the way, we stopped at a little hamburger stand we had never heard of. I went in. The burgers were only fifteen cents each so I bought six of them and two large sodas. I thought the bag felt heavy and when I handed it to Ginger she asked me what I had gotten. There were six whoppers in the bag. That was our first experience with Burger King.

After a nice visit with her sister Phyllis and family, we decided it would be better for me to drive straight to Baltimore and for her to take the bus back to school. We went to the bus station and experienced something we had never seen before. We sat down at the counter to eat something while waiting for the bus. The clerk told us we were at the wrong counter; we were at the colored counter. There were also separate colored and white bathrooms and colored and white water fountains. Everything else went all right and we parted.

As I have stated above, Gin had a wonderful voice. She was a true coloratura soprano. My father tested her one time with the piano. She had a range of seven and a half octaves. The first time I heard her sing in a lounge setting was at the Green Springs Inn in Baltimore. Her parents went there a lot so the piano player knew her and asked her to sing. She sang “Can’t Help Lovin That Man of Mine” followed by “Summertime”. My heart was racing: I knew that every guy there knew she was with me and they all looked jealous, as she was singing directly to me. She is still one sexy lady.

I can’t remember what year it first happened, and it happened several times during high school. The Lord gave me a vision of Gin and I living in a white house at the top of a hill with a sloping back yard. We had three children; One running around the yard, one toddler and one in a play pen. This came to be fulfilled in nineteen seventy seven.

We became engaged during Christmas season in nineteen sixty four. We wanted a small wedding with no big fanciness, in June. Her mother said there was no way to get the wedding done in only six months. This was her last daughter and she had never been able to have the big fancy wedding she always wanted. We reset our date for September twenty sixth. We had no idea what was in store for us. It got so bad we wanted to elope. My father in law took me aside one day and offered me ten thousand dollars if we did elope. He also said that I should consider that I was going to have to live with what I had done to my mother in law for the rest of my life. The wedding was held in a huge Methodist church, which neither of us had been in before. The wedding reception was held at the Sheridan Belvedere Hotel in Baltimore with three hundred and twenty guests. The Mayor, Tommy D’Alesandro, was among the guests. I don’t know if the Mayor’s daughter, Nancy D’Alesandro Pelosi was there or not. It was a beautiful wedding. We actually got pregnant soon after but had a miscarriage.

Four months after we were married, I was drafted. Twice, while I was in the Army, Gin came to live with me. First, while I was stationed at Fort Gordon, Georgia, and second when I was stationed in Neu Ulm, Germany. We enjoyed our time together and attributed this time as bringing us to being able to stand on our feet when family help is not available.

While we were in Germany, Gin got pregnant again. It’s good we had developed friendships as she had another miscarriage. There was a possibility that she had a tubular pregnancy so I called for the ambulance to get her to the medical clinic as we didn’t have a car. The German national doctor that was on duty refused to send it. My friends in the military police got a jeep to take her along with three armed men. We got to the clinic and when we got her into a treatment room two of the MP’s drew their side arms and posted on each side of the door. The doctor was told that he couldn’t come out until Ginger was all right. After the doctor stabilized her we did have to get her to a Military hospital in Augsburg where she finally got the treatment she needed. The thought of loosing the one you love will build a fire in your belly. It turned out not to be a tubular pregnancy, and she would be all right.

Gin had to leave Germany before I did and some German friends held a going away party for her. During the party, she was introduced to a woman who she was told would take care of my needs while she was gone. Unglued would be an understatement. My friends had to save me by explaining that it was a German custom that I knew nothing about. To make a long story short, I lived in the barracks until I went back to the states to be mustered out of the service.

In January of nineteen sixty eight, when we were both back in the states, we decided to save up at lease $10,000, to put down on a house so we rented for a couple of years. During this time we had our first son, Rickie. He was born in November of sixty eight. Everything went well and he was a beautiful baby. As it turned out, we bought a house built the same year we got back to the states, which had sold for $17,500. In nineteen seventy two when we bought it, we paid $32,000. Well, so much for that kind of planning. Almost as soon as we moved in, Gin got pregnant with our daughter Lisa. All went well, and another beautiful baby.

Over all, things went very well over the next few years. The only real problem we went through was the birth of our daughter Candace who had birth defects and only lived about an hour. I did get to hold her hand and pray for her before she died. This was a pretty terrible time for us both, but through the Lord’s help, we made it through. For two weeks I stood strong while Gin broke down. Almost to the hour Gin got through psychologically and I went into the dumper for a while. Together, we made it through. We were told, because of what had happened, we shouldn’t try to have another baby. Through our walk with the Lord we felt sure we should try once more. In nineteen seventy seven, we had our son Shawn. At this point, the vision I had years ago, came into reality.

I spent a lot of time on the road as a traveling salesman. I sold for Sandoz Pharmaceuticals for nine years, which was local, around the Baltimore-Washington area, Gynecology equipment and other medical equipment for the next six years, and later I switched to research laboratory equipment. To be successful in those lines of sales, it took a lot of traveling in a multi-state area. If I knew then, what I know now, I never would have done the traveling. I not only missed out on a lot of the kid’s lives, but it put a lot of extra pressure on Ginger by my not being available. She didn’t complain much, but her biggest complaint was that she never got to talk to anyone but children, while I was out gallivanting around talking to real people.

In nineteen eighty five, the vice president and international sales manager of my company thought it would be good for me to move to Ohio as I had been so successful in building up the eastern part of my territory. I had taken my division from last place to second place in sales in just a couple of years, and he felt I could have the same success in the western part, if I were able to be more available to that area while being able to keep up what I had built in my eastern states. He also stuck me with the position of field sales manager and trainer. Later, when the president found out about the move, he thought the vice president was nuts.

We found a beautiful seventy seven acre farm, fully fenced, with nine buildings on it, just outside of Pennsville, Ohio. We checked out the local elementary/middle school which had about one hundred students. It seemed to be quaint and we even saw the kitchen where they were making fresh cookies for the kid’s lunch. What we didn’t realize was that the most important school function in the county was football. The education was so bad we finally started driving the kids to the next county for the better schools. The farm was a good thing in that the kids got to have motor cycles, horses, cows and other facets of farm life. After almost four years on the farm we moved to Crooksville, Ohio for schools with a more positive attitude. We stayed there until nineteen ninety one, when we moved to Lakeland, Florida.

The kid’s marriages started with Lisa in Ohio. Over the next eleven years, our kids supplied us with nine grand children whom we love very much. Rick had four children, Lisa three and Shawn two. We love our children and grandchildren very much, but recently have found the blessings of ‘empty nest syndrome’.

When the kids got old, enough Gin went back to teaching. She taught fifth grade when we first got married. She taught at the Sykesville High School in Carroll County Maryland, St. Timothy’s Parish School in Baltimore, and even substituted some in Ohio. She also taught middle school in Florida for twelve years.

While we were dating, I was absolutely sure that the love I had for Ginger couldn’t get any stronger. I was sure that what we had was the best that could have been. Well, the Lord proved me wrong. Our love for each other has grown stronger and stronger as the years have gone by. We have gone through many physical problems in the past few years, our bodies have been changing and our energy levels have diminished. Despite our problems, over the years, we have gone through it all together. We don’t have to go fancy places and we don’t have to be rich. What we have is a desire to be together and we are satisfied, just as long as we are together. I could never have dreamed that our love, and relationship with the Lord, could have been as strong and satisfying that it would last for over fifty years. All I can say now is that our love for each other is still growing, and I expect it will, until we enter our eternal home where we will always be together.

Rick Rahn


Post a Comment