To take a segue in the story, I want to talk about my grandmother, E.B. She's the one I referred to in my introduction as the person to whom I am most grateful for teaching me about perseverance. This is the story of how she and my grandfather met. Prepare yourself for most likely the most romantic story you've ever read. Hopefully I can do it justice and hopefully I get the details relatively accurate.
My grandmother grew up on a farm in a very small, rural town in Kentucky. She was the oldest and had one sister and 3 brothers. The daughter and granddaughter of sharecroppers, E.B. had big dreams. She planned to go to college. This was no small feat, considering that at 18 she was a poor farm girl and it was the early 40's. It was unheard of at the time. But somehow, she convinced her parents that it was the right thing. She was always a smart girl, so perhaps (and this I don't know for sure), they thought it would be a good outlet. I'll never know how she convinced her dad, old Willy the stubborn farmer, that she could do this. Nonetheless, her own stubbornness, inherited from him, had won out.
E.B. set off for Murray State with dreams of becoming a teacher. She devoured college like nothing she'd ever done. She was a straight A student and teacher's pet. She didn't go out, she didn't socialize, she just studied. That was it. She had her eyes on the prize. She was a pretty girl, not beautiful, but a pretty little bookworm notwithstanding.
On the other side of the states in California, a young man named Billy, the son of the first Liquor Control officer of San Francisco, was growing up with dreams of playing football and going to college, probably in that order. He was handsome, not just a little but "movie star" handsome. I heard he was a high school classmate of Lana Turner's. He was a young man who loved to fish. He had deep set, beautiful blue eyes that could cut right through a girl with one look. His dark brown hair and ruddy complexion, combined with the physique of a football player, made him one hell of a package. He set off for Murray State and was chosen for the football team. At the moment, I can't remember what position he played.
While young Billy spent his time playing football and socializing, E.B. was hitting the books. Their paths didn't seem likely to cross. Some time in the Winter or her freshman year, E.B. developed an acute case of appendicitis. Surgery was the only way for her to survive. She had no choice but to submit to the instructions of the college infirmary doctors. When she came to after the surgery, she was told that she would have to skip her exams and rest up. E.B. was livid! She hadn't come this far and worked this hard to miss her exams. She went all the way to the dean and insisted that there had to be some way to complete her studies for the semester. He thought about it, he knew this girl and he knew she was serious. He also knew that she never got out and socialized. He also knew a certain young football player with a strong back and with a way with the girls......
The Dean allowed my grandmother to complete her exams, but only if she would agree to be ushered about campus by a strong football player named Billy. His job was simple, carry her to her classes so she could complete her exams. He agreed and began his duties, perhaps thinking that it would be pretty interesting taking around this bookish girl. During that time, I like to imagine that she showed him a little bit about being more serious and he showed her a little bit about loosening up.
They had known each other for about 3 weeks and E.B. was beginning to heal as they continued their new "friendship". It was beginning to get cold in Kentucky, there was a chill in the air, so Billy invited E.B. to the local coffee shop for toasted cheese sandwiches and hot cocoa. She agreed. As they left the shop that day, on the eve of Christmas vacation, snowflakes slowly started to fall. Growing up in California, Billy had never seen snow before. He was amazed. And maybe it was something about the moment, with this pretty and smart girl that he's known a short time but had fallen in love with, he grabbed her and picked her up in his arms and asked her to marry him. With snowflakes catching in their eyelashes and love swelling in their hearts, E.B. said "Yes, Yes!!!"
Days later, on Christmas Eve, they were married in a small ceremony. My grandmother wore a navy suit and I'm not even sure what grandpa wore, but I bet he looked fantastic. I can only imagine with those piercing blue eyes and, oh, did I mention the deep cleft in his chin? My grandmother told me about their wedding night (without ALL the details - thank God!). They spent that night in her parents living room near the wood burning furnace on the pull-out sofa. My grandmother told me that in the morning when her father came to put more wood in the fire, she blushed under the covers with the knowledge of what she and my grandfather had done the night before. She also told me about her uncomfortable, bouncy horse and buggy ride to church the next morning, if you know what I mean. She thought everyone at church was staring at her and imagining what she'd done. I just love the purity and innocence in that.
This is by far my favorite story. I'd like to tell you that everything after that was happily ever after, and for a time everything was. I'll save the rest for later. I think this one will keep you smiling for a while.
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