Starts with puppy love |

Starts with puppy love

Leo and I were in “puppy love” from age 9 through 13, just never at the same time. Our first date was a high school dance on Feb. 7, 1958. Our fate together was sealed when, at 16, Leo told me, “I love you” ” I had never heard these words said to me before and when he asked, “Will you marry me?” I resounded, “Yes!”

Married Aug. 28, 1965 in Ouray, our reception was held at the famous Rose-Wood dining room at the Beaumont Hotel. Leo borrowed handcuffs from the sheriff to keep his dad’s friends from stealing the bride. This was a successful strategy, except that the spiked punch at the reception emboldened the “friends” to let the air out of the right tires of our car. We nearly flipped over, going around the swimming pool corner.

My parents’ pickup camper was waiting for us in Montrose. We ran out of gas in a huge rainstorm near the Lake City exit on our way to honeymoon near Gunnison. A young couple took us to and from Gunnison to get gas. Our budget was $50 for the week. The first breakfast I cooked was pancakes 1/2 inch thick, weighing a ton. Leo cooked a steak that turned out well done and dry. Returning to Ouray, Leo had a near-fatal allergic reaction to the sauna in my parents’ home.

Leo and I were both educators and counselors. We taught over 80 couples communication classes in the 32 years we lived in Glenwood Springs. I have always maintained the notion that “even at it’s best, communication is rarely perfect.” Our relationship has had its ups and downs. Sometimes one or the other or both of us chose not to use our communication skills. Nevertheless, we developed a mantra, “I’ve loved you for a long time!” as our “money in the bank.”

We are proud of our children, Mark and Marla, who grew up in Glenwood. This is in spite of learning a few years ago that our nicknames were Mean Mom and Dumb Dad. Of course, Leo was president of the high school faculty’s “Dumb Fool’s Club” several times. I want to write a book about Mean Mom and Dumb Dad and have Marla illustrate it. Oh yes, Mark and some college friends started a support group for Adult Children of Powdered Milk Families.

Marla’s car crash in December of 2002 resulted in a severe brain injury and aphasia, a speech disorder. For over four years our faith, relationship and endurance have been tested. With Mark’s steadfast help, amazing community support, and our access to tremendous medical resources, we continue to be inspired by Marla’s strength, patience, determination and beautiful personality. Our mantra now includes a hug and the following words. “God is taking care of us. We are doing the best we can. We’ve loved each other a long time!” (Forty-two years married, seven years dating and four years of puppy love.)

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