On this date forty-eight years ago, the best thing ever to happen to this ol' country boy took place when a beautiful brown-eyed young lady named Pamela Daum said those magic words – "I do" – and became my wife.
Although we would have the marriage blessed in a Catholic Church a few years later, our initial union came as the result of a simple ceremony performed by a judge. We eloped, you see, probably the first serious act of rebellion Pam ever did against her parents, thanks to the influence of impetuous me.
Needless to say, there was a definite chill between me and my brand new in-laws for a while, but eventually I became the favored son-in-law. I'd like to think I earned most of this but, truth to tell, part of it was also due to the fact that the other son-in-laws who came along to marry Pam's sisters proved to be a parade of duds who just kept making me look better by comparison.
The day of that first marriage, the judge scheduled to perform the ceremony forgot the appointment and failed to show up at the courthouse. What was more, I couldn't remember his name. So I had to go to the cop shop next door and start doing cold calls to the list of local judges in hopes of finding the right one; I scored on the third call and he came right over. I always figured he must have been home engrossed in a college football game on TV (it was a Saturday) because, when he did show up, he rattled off the words and the pronouncement in mighty quick order and then took off again. Which was fine with me --- all I wanted was to get started on the honeymoon (you know the main thing on my mind).
With the dodging parents part and the absent-minded judge and all, you might think there were some bad omens in there that should have warned Pam and me we were off on an ill-fated venture. If there were, we failed to pay any attention and blew right past 'em. I never regretted being married or who I was married to for one second; I'm pretty sure Pam never did either.
We had 41 years, 3 months, and 13 days together before she died in my arms in 2008. I could dwell on the sadness of having her gone now --- and, believe me, I am aware of that empty feeling every minute of every day --- but on this day I will instead think about the blessing of having had her for as long as I did.
And why shouldn't I … it was the best thing that ever happened to me.