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Why do fools fall in love?

Why do fools fall in love? I don’t know. Al and I have been trying to figure it out for years. Today, April fool’s day is our 50th anniversary. No joke, It was April 1, 1960, and what were we thinking? We weren’t. We were in love.

Why did we pick that date? It was on a Friday and we had a free weekend and nothing to do. We had dated for a year, fought the whole time, and couldn’t live with each other or without each other. I was eighteen and he was twenty-two. No one thought a marriage between us would ever work. My mother was fed up with the fighting and said either get married or he needs to go.

But Al was cute, oh, so cute. He drove a brand new ’60 Plymouth Fury, long and sleek. He wore pressed blue jeans with sharp creases and shiny brown and white wingtip shoes. His red James Dean jacket over a brilliant white T-shirt with rolled up sleeves was his signature. His thick straight black hair was greased and combed back into a ducktail which came low on his forehead into a widow’s peek. All this made him the catch of the day. He had the cutest buns, he was adorable and he was a Slade. I was in love.

Al, being the perfect gentleman held the door open for me, called before a date, didn’t honk but came to the door, talked to my mother, brought flowers and candy and walked on the outside of the sidewalk to protect me from on coming cars. His mother worked hard to make her son look good and have manners; she didn’t know all that work was just for me. She had greater expectations for her beloved son and all this only added fuel to the unquenchable fire of love. All the other girls were crazy about him and I got him. What a way to start a marriage. I wouldn’t recommend it! But what a catch!

And what was the catch? Living together! We didn’t know we had to learn how to live together. Al was a Baptist and I was a Morman. His first job was to make me a Baptist and my job was to stand firm. Well, you can see how the sparks continued to fly. I dug my heels in deep and sat in a Baptist pew every Sunday morning and sang 30 verses of “Just As I Am.” I thought if they sang another verse I would lean over and strangle Al. I didn’t want to be there and I wasn’t letting Al forget it. God finally intervened on that one and millions of other potential disagreements over the years.

When I write about Al, I always ask him if he wants to say something in his defense, and he says, “Just stay sweet.” The years have brought both funny and not so funny stories. Today we laugh at them. Who would have ever guessed that these stories would be published in the newspaper? I am just thankful you didn’t read it on the front page or in the police blotter under domestic violence.

A month ago a woman invited us to a community marriage seminar. She was telling me about the wonderful speakers. Did we look like we needed a marriage seminar? She was taken by surprise when I told her I could teach the speakers more than they could teach me. After 50 years if we haven’t got it yet, we probably won’t.

I told her she didn’t know my sweet Al and neither one of us were going to change. We really like it the way we are. He makes my breakfast every morning, brings me coffee and loves and supports me in my painting and writing. He listens to my Bible studies and rather enjoys them. Now, am I going to change all that? Absolutely not! I’m not taking a chance that the experts in marriage might fill his head with silly notions, like me cooking breakfast for him or going hunting with him.

Several have asked what we were going to do for our fiftieth anniversary. We don’t know. Our family has discussed many possibilities. We laugh a lot and enjoy each other so we want to be with family. Our son-in-law, the practical one says, if we go on an Alaskan tour, the men would be hunting the game and the women would be complaining about the cold. I told him if we rented a houseboat at Lake Powell and lived on it for a couple of weeks the men would be fishing and the women would be cooking and waiting on them. No vacation for us. We thought of a three-day cruise off of Mexico. But for 12, it could be costly. So we still don’t know. We tell the kids, “It really doesn’t matter. Just surprise us.”

I look at my sweet Al today, he’s lost his widow’s peek, he still brings me flowers from the yard, a daisy or lilac, he calls me baby doll, tells me every day how much he loves me, and he kisses me goodnight every night. He is there for our children and grandchildren and will do anything for any of us. He is a young man in love.

Our life has not been the norm but whose has? It’s been a great life. When fools fall in love, nothing else matters. One thing for sure Al has never forgotten an anniversary.

Final brushstroke: Follow your heart. It’s easier to marry for love than money. Love endures forever.

Reader’s comments

Dear Betty:

While I don’t write very often, I want you to know that I read every word of your articles, sometimes more than once. Many of them have a special meaning for me as an artist. It’s because I have faced many of the same dilemmas that you write about, and they often make me laugh, or cry, but they hit the nail on the head. It’s people like you that keep giving all of us hope that what we do is worthwhile, not just for ourselves, but for others as well. Please keep up the good work.

Lee Ables

Arizona

Artist’s quote

“The starting point of all achievement is desire. Keep this constantly in mind. Weak desires bring weak results, just as a small fire makes a small amount of heat.” — Napoleon Hill, author.