by Sierra Thomas
Half a century ago, gas costs fifty cents a gallon, Dwight Eisenhower was president, and Singing In the Rain was playing in nearly every movie theater across the country. In other news, my grandparents were walking down the aisle to pledge their love. Even though their wedding didn’t make headlines, it was an historic event in my family tree.
Rita and Terrence knew of each other at Jefferson High School, but didn’t actually meet until both worked at El Paso Natural Gas Company. They became further acquainted during coffee breaks and small talk in the parking lot. Against the backdrop of a nine-to-five job, their friendship blossomed. My grandfather was soon smitten, but there was a problem: Rita didn’t feel the same way. Truth be told, she had her heart set on another young fellow, and had no desire to go on a “pity date” with Terrence. Besides, she believed big shot football players like her new friend had egos longer than their playing fields. So every time he asked her out, she gave a courteous “no thank-you.” Terrence was heartbroken, but determined. Quitting now was not an option in the game of football or love. He requested her company three more times and on the fourth try, my grandma finally agreed.
On the night of their first date, my grandpa picked up Rita in a car with which she was strangely familiar. When she asked Terrence about it, he told her that his car was in the shop so he borrowed his friend Roger’s. To his surprise, Rita had been in the vehicle before while on a date with Roger himself! After that awkward moment, they drove to a club where they spent the night dining and dancing. By the end of the evening, my grandma’s first impression had changed. From gallantly opening the door, to hanging on her every word, the man she thought was a big-headed jock, turned out to be polite, respectful, and courteous: a true gentleman. Now that their feelings were evident, the two began a serious relationship.
On Valentine’s Day, my grandparents shared their first kiss over a box of chocolates. A few months later, Terrence proposed. Rita’s parents appreciated the caring young man their daughter was dating, but when the subject of marriage came up, they completely disagreed. After all, Rita was only 18 and the two had been together a mere six months. They were married anyway, although my grandpa was legally underage at 19, and his father had to sign a “permission slip.”
The day of the wedding was an eventful one. My grandma spent her Tuesday “vacation” at the beauty parlor. As soon as the other females in the shop learned of her later plans, they crowded around clucking like hens. “Who is your husband-to-be?”, “What color are the decorations?”, and “Describe the dress!” Because she was distracted, Rita didn’t notice the stylist’s finished work. Upon finally seeing her reflection, however, she wasn’t pleased. The rest of the afternoon was spent re-doing her hair. Then another unexpected bump; her maid of honor was late! Eventually the young woman arrived and everything fell into place. All the troubles of the previous hours melted away when my grandma saw the peaceful grin on her fiancé’s face. On that beautiful day in a church surrounded by friends and family, the two were married, and their history began.
Several months ago, my grandparents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Seeing the couple re-new their vows was a heart-warming experience. I can’t imagine a
better example of love than my grandma and gramps. Their relationship is an inspiration to anyone in hopes of having a successful marriage. Currently, they live in Stephenville, Texas in a quiet neighborhood spending their days gardening, painting, and enjoying each other’s company. I can’t think of a happier ending.