After the wedding, my new in-laws and our best man visited over drinks back at the motel. They agreed that I was a nice girl, but they gave the marriage six months. They were wrong. It was a “death-do-us-part” marriage, lasting 46 years, three months, three weeks and one day.
We were an unlikely pair. I had a summer job at the Corpus Christi Caller-Times before my senior year at Baylor University. My salary was minimum wage—$1 an hour—and my parents required me to be self-supporting. I found a borderline garage apartment in a borderline neighborhood near the bus stop. Other than three classmates, I knew no one in the city. At work, a young photographer took pity on me and offered to set me up on a blind date with an older friend who had just returned from the Cannes Film Festival. We went on a double-date to a drive-in movie. At the end of the evening, Lev asked me to go to dinner the next night. And the next night, he offered to take me to church and then to the beach. Within a week, he spoke of marriage. We saw each other almost every evening for the next five weeks. And then I went back to Baylor.
A few weeks afterwards, I rode the bus to San Antonio to meet Lev’s parents. And a few weeks after that, he put a ring on my finger. Every Friday night he drove the 325 miles from Corpus Christi to Waco to see me, usually arriving just in time to kiss me good night before the dorm door was locked. We moved the wedding date from June to December. I persuaded the dean to allow me to take my final semester at a college in the Corpus Christi area. Daddy dispatched my mother to Waco to persuade me to move the wedding date back. We compromised. I agreed to marry on Sunday afternoon instead of Saturday night. Since there was no time for us to get home to buy a marriage license, Mama obtained it for us.
Lev and I were both in Corpus Christi by accident. For several years we daydreamed about where we would settle and what he would do. But we bought a house, made friends, had children … and one day we realized that Corpus Christi was home. He went into the oil business. I was a stay-at-home mom. We were lucky. About the time Lev turned 65, his health began to decline; but he went to the office almost every day right up to the day he died. In the last year of his life, we went on cruises in the Caribbean, the North Sea and the Mediterranean. And then everything changed overnight.