It should have never worked. She was a naturalized American citizen born in Campo Madera #2, Chihuahua, Mexico, with two little boys. He was a former moonshiner from Cedartown, Georgia.
She came to the United States at an early age to work as a maid, married a soldier who left her alone while the boys were young, and worked a lot of hours at a hospital in El Paso to support her sons.
He ended up in El Paso after working several different jobs and a couple of marriages that had gone bad.
They met when he came over to her house to share Thanksgiving dinner with the family. Apparently they had a mutual friend that got the two of them together. Talk about a blind date. Since she did not have a phone, he just showed up for dinner that night. What could have been a rather awkward meal actually turned out rather well. He came over the next night to take her out for dinner and made big brownie points with her sons when he brought over two model car kits for them to work on. When they complained they did not know much about cars, he offered to take them to car dealerships on Saturday so they could see what the cars looked like. That’s right; he dated her sons as well. Took them to see cars and bought them cheeseburgers. Still, it came as a big surprise when they got married 3 ½ weeks after they met.
The marriage lasted 36 years, ending only when she passed away from a long struggle with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In those 36 years there were a lot of ups and downs. They started off poor, as many young couples do, but worked their way up slowly to a rather comfortable position in life. He retired from the railroad, she retired as a respiratory therapist. They raised her kids together, and never once did he call them his stepsons. They were always “his” boys. To them he was always their dad, and they called him dad from the day they got married.
It wasn’t easy. There was a rather wide difference in culture, upbringing, and religious backgrounds. He was raised in a very dysfunctional family and trust was an issue for him. That caused a lot of strife in the relationship, but they worked through it. Together they achieved a lot of their personal goals. But then she got sick.
After several years of struggling with her disease, she passed away 12 years ago on January 28th. He clearly missed her after her passing. His four years as a widower found him sad and confused. He moved 700 miles from one side of Texas to the other side of the state to avoid seeing daily the things that reminded him of their life together. Unfortunately it also left him far away from his sons.
He died alone on the back porch of his house; he was found 24 hours after he passed. I still remember the call that I got telling me that they had found my dad. That happened eight years ago and I still miss him to this day. My dad made a big impact on my life, and I miss sharing the details of my life with him. He taught me a lot – mechanics and home repair, being a hard worker, and how to love your kids. We did not always agree. In fact, we argued a lot. But we both knew we loved each other, and I am glad that the last words I said to him were “I love you Dad.” Those words apparently came the night before he passed.
My mom was a huge influence in my life. She taught me about love, about sacrifice, about love of country, and the need to get an education. There is so much that I would love to share with her – my highs and my lows, my problems and my blessings. I wish she were here to share the experiences in her life that always made a difference in how I looked at things.
It’s funny, most people thought that the relationship would never last. They seemed such an odd couple. But they had love for each other and shared that love with their boys. My brother and I will always be grateful. I miss them both dearly.