Twenty-five years ago today, Otto and I walked into a courthouse because he said that he had some business there. I was dressed in turquoise shorts with a white T-shirt that had arrows pointing to the sleeves and the neck to show where the arms and head went.
Near the hem of the T-shirt were the words, “blonde T-shirt.”
We marched into the Justice of the Peace office, and Otto asked for a marriage license. I think my heart stopped. We had known each other for a few years by then. He had been an instructor in the electronics school I attended. When I went to Japan for my first tour of service, he was retiring from the Navy.
When the clerk asked for 70 dollars, we had to search through all of our pockets, purses, and crevices for enough change to pay for it. We managed to come up with 69 dollars and 90 cents. The clerk pitched in ten cents. Thirty minutes later we were married by the JP in a little garden outside.
Oh yes, for the first time after knowing him for almost four years, I learned his legal name. Nope, it wasn’t Otto.
I had been on adventures before meeting this man. I went to South Africa for two years and was able to see Johannesburg and Cape Town. It was a dream that came true in an unexpected way. And when he went his way, and I went to Japan, I enjoyed my adventures there.
Together we traveled around Panama, seeing the canal and some of the small villages in Chiriqui province of Panama. It had beautiful sand beaches and villages cut into jungle. There was even a small zoo where a monkey got close enough to me to try to steal my hot pink ball cap.
We transferred to Germany where we hiked to crumbling castles that overlooked the river. We walked through one of the towns where famous jewelers made jewelry from stones that had been shipped from Africa and other exotic places.
He was there when I almost died in his arms.
The one thing that I will always remember about my dear one was his sense of humor. He loved to stir things up. When he first met me and discovered that I was sensitive to blonde jokes, he told me one blonde joke every time he saw me. I learned to laugh at it.
He told me something important when my moods were so extreme because I was on prednisone and other harsh drugs. I had to take them to live. It didn’t make living easy though. He said, “Everything has a negative and a positive. You can switch how you feel about it.”
Today I want to remember that irrepressible smile that warmed me. I wanted to get closer to him.
I only hope that I will see him again, hold him in my arms, and smell his scent. That he will whisper one of his tasteless jokes in my ear so that I laugh.
Today I’ll wear his favorite color– red.