As my wife and I celebrate our 32nd wedding anniversary one week from today, I thought I’d share my love story.
I met Laura at what I half-jokingly called a “Church Halloween Party.” They didn’t like the word “Halloween,” so it was dubbed a “Fall Festival,” I believe, complete with hayrides and food.
By the time we bumped into each other, I had suffered three failed relationships in the previous year. I was always one of those guys who wasn’t interested in casual dating. Even though I was only 18 years old, I was on the lookout for the person I’d spend the rest of my life with.
I know this sounds a bit sappy, but I kid you not, when I met her, I thought she was the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen. She was only 16, and I immediately set my sights on asking her out. But there was a problem: I was so gun shy from being hurt that I didn’t want to get my hopes up too high.
“I know,” I told myself, “I’ll have Annette (aka “Netty,” my younger sister who was only one grade behind Laura) ask her if she’s interested in going out with me.”
I had no clue girls can see right through such ploys. When Netty asked Laura, “Just out of curiosity, if my brother asked you out, would you go?” my future bride knew immediately I was interested in her.
“She said she’d go out with you if you asked her!” Netty reported back to me a week or so later. Thus, I had a goal: ask Laura out on a date.
It took me a while to build up the nerve, but finally, on a rainy Sunday night as we were leaving church, something inside me screamed, “This is the time!” Ya know, “seize the day” and all that.
I followed her out to her mom’s car and asked her if she wanted to go for some pizza the following Friday, and before you know it, we were an “item.” We were CRAZY about each other. Even our pastor said, “You can’t say ‘Rob’ without saying ‘Laura.'”
Funny thing is, we’re still like that. After a long day of work, instead of staying in separate rooms, doing our own thing, we’ll spend 20 minutes trying to find a movie we both want to watch. I start with “Goodfellas” and she starts with “Under The Tuscan Sun,” then we meet somewhere in the middle, with something like, “The Greatest Showman” or one of the Harry Potter flicks.
We purposely share one car, even though we work at separate places, just because riding to work together gives us a little extra time with each other. We’re one of those couples who lie in bed at night holding hands as we watch television.
We were married on May 16, 1987, a little over a year and a half after we met.
Of course, we’ve had our hard times. In fact, at the two-year mark in our marriage, we split up, and I began to ask around about how one goes about getting divorced. We’d told our landlord we were moving out of our rental home, and we both planned on moving in with our parents until we could figure out our next move.
After we’d moved our stuff out, Laura stood there, looking so beautiful, holding our baby girl, Jessica, in her arms. Jess was wearing this little, white, fur coat and just looked like an angel. I can still see her in her mama’s arms, and I just wanted to scoop them both up and hug them forever.
“Say goodbye to daddy,” Laura told Jess, with a tear in her eye, and turned and walked away. I was crushed beyond words, so when she showed up at my mom’s door a week or so later and asked, “What do you want out of this?” I said, “I just want YOU, and I’ll do whatever it takes.”
We started working on things at that point and have never looked back. Oh sure, there were still plenty of hard times to come. I’ve lost a couple of different careers, have had a few surgeries and suffer from chronic pain and bouts of depression. Creative people are never easy to live with, and then when you add all the pain on top of that…well, you get the picture.
But Laura isn’t phased at all. In fact, she still gets that loving “THERE HE IS!” look in her eyes when she sees me. Through all the droughts and the thunder, she stays. She’s constant, like the oak tree in our back yard which stands firm and strong, despite facing a plethora of “tornado alley,” springtime storms over the years.
She knows love doesn’t give up; love stays the course. Love has no limits or boundaries. Love draws no lines in the sand. Love doesn’t quit.
Laura makes my heart smile, honestly. As we grew older, she would occasionally tell me she knew I needed someone by my side. “So if,” she’d tell me, “God forbid, something ever happens to me, I want you to remarry.”
“I mean, I want you to be looking for your next wife at my funeral!” she laughed, but was fully serious. I told her I wanted her to do the same.
A few months ago, though, right before we fell asleep for the night, I told her, groggily, “I don’t think I’ll ever remarry if something happens to you. When you’ve had the best, where do you go from there? Ya know, when we take one of our walks through the graveyard, I see lots of spouses buried together who died years, sometimes decades, apart. That’s how I want it to be with us. I think it’s GREAT when people remarry; there’s nothing WRONG with it whatsoever, I just don’t think it’s for me. I want to go to my grave knowing you were the great love of my life, the ONLY love of my life.”
Laura just smiled, kissed me gently and said, “Same with me. It’s only you, baby.”
An entire brood has been spawned from that one rainy evening when I finally pushed through my fear and asked her out for pizza.
Two kids (a girl and a boy) and two grandkids (a boy and a girl) later, we trudge on. We’ve learned so much, like “most things aren’t worth fighting about.” It’s funny, we can sense a disagreement coming, but instead of lunging headlong into it, we step back, take a deep breath and change the subject.
I try and tell her every day how much she means to me. I know there are so many women unsure of themselves, who CRAVE loving words from the one who means the most to them, but don’t get it. I know there are those who go to great lengths to get compliments from the opposite sex, simply because they don’t receive the validation they need from their significant other, but I have vowed my wife won’t be one of them.
She should walk tall and proud, knowing she is beautiful, knowing she is amazing, and knowing she is prized and loved and valued. Great lengths are taken to ensure she feels exactly that.
I once wrote her a song, “Laura Love,” which I never finished, but the chorus went like this:
Laura Love in the morning sun your hair shines yellow gold
Laura Love you’re the brightest soul that I have ever known
Laura someday I’ll take you away to a paradise our own
Laura Love you’re the only one that I ever want to hold
So that’s my love story. This Halloween will mark 34 years together.
And I wouldn’t trade any of them for gold.
I love you, Laura Weddle. Here’s to many more years together!