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Fourty Years After a Life Changing Event

How many people could say what they were doing 40 years ago, without a good deal of thought? As it happens, I can, but only because it began events that would totally change my life.

On August 29, 1978, I was a cook at an extremely busy restaurant in Southern Oregon. The shift was even busier than normal that day, because of several busses that came by. We were also working with a short crew, so tensions were running strong.

By the time I got off work at 10 pm, I was tired, cranky, and frustrated. I stopped at home long enough to take a shower and to put on clothing that didn’t smell like food, then headed out. All I wanted to do is go to a tavern, drink a little beer, shoot a game or two of pool, and relax.

The tavern I went to was called the Round-Up. I knew the tavern and customers well because the bartender/manager, Leroy, had hired me to run a jam session every Friday and Saturday night, so most of my nights after work, I went to the tavern. I was 22 and didn’t have anything else to do. I knew that if I stayed home, I’d dwell on the day, which wouldn’t help my mood any.

Leroy met me at the door and asked me if I would start up a jam session because they were busier than normal. It was a Tuesday and I normally didn’t get up and play the guitar and sing until Friday, but I agreed.

When I got inside, though, the very first thing I noticed was an absolutely stunning woman sitting at the end of the bar, wearing a red dress. Unfortunately, she was sitting next to a guy who was coincidentally named Rex. Sadly, I ignored the beautiful woman because I didn’t want to cause a scene with the man she was sitting next to. That was how my day had gone, so while it didn’t help my mood, I wasn’t surprised.

I drank a cold beer and went to the bandstand and started to play. While I refused to cause a scene, I could sing to the lady in red, even if she didn’t know I was singing to her. The very first song I played and sang was a Marty Robbins hit, “Walkin’ Piece of Heaven”.

I focused on the lady in red the whole time, to the point that for a time, nobody else in the bar existed to me. For whatever reason, I played and sang much better than normal and even got a standing ovation. I played a couple more sets, then took a break, to drink another beer. I got a phone call at that time.

As I hung up the phone, I noticed that the lady in red had come over and was waiting for me to finish my conversation.

“That was beautiful! You sing and play wonderfully!” she said to me, enthusiastically. It made me feel good, but there was the matter of the other guy, so I answered, “Thanks” in a monotone.

I finished my drink and went back to play some more. During my next break, I decided that it was time to shoot some pool, so I went to play a game. As it happened, the table was very close to where the woman in red was sitting. The man she had been sitting next to had left and I found out later that the woman had never been sitting with him, merely next to him.

She told me that her name was Ella and tried to engage me in small-talk, but I’d have none of that. I bent over to make a shot and she grabbed onto the butt of my pool cue because she didn’t like being ignored. I glared at her over my shoulder and she let go of the stick. I shot while still glaring at her and not looking at the table and sank the ball. That simply made the woman angry and the next time I bent over the table, she took a pool stick and jabbed me in the rear with it.

I whirled and said, “How would you like it if I pulled down your britches and spanked your bare butt in front of God and everyone?”

She gave me a haughty look and smugly said, “I wouldn’t if I were you. The bartender is my brother.”

Over the crowded bar, I bellowed, “Hey, Leroy!”

He was at the other end of the bar and yelled back, “Yeah, what?”

“Would you mind if I paddled your sister’s butt?” I shouted back.

Leroy shrugged and said, “No, go ahead!”

Needless-to-say, I didn’t paddle her rear. However, the connection had been made. We went on our first date the following night. We went out the night after that, too. It is amazing, but suddenly the normal troubles of the day that would have previously set me off didn’t seem to bother me at all. I figured that maybe that was because Ella had told me that when I walked into the tavern, I had an “aura” around me. That made me feel good.

I proposed to Ella on September 4, 1978, and she said yes. On September 9, 1978, we were married in Reno, Nevada, eleven days after we met.

Leroy was my best man and his girlfriend was the maid of honor. Ella’s mother and my mother were witnesses. That was the entire marriage party.

A week from this coming Sunday, we will celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. We will do it in style, too, by renewing our vows at church, immediately after service. Our son and daughter will both be there, too, as well as most of the congregation.

Sadly, Leroy, Ella’s mom, Leona, and my mom, Freda, have all passed away. The Round-Up Tavern isn’t there anymore, either. Still, we have our memories of the life-changing event that all started 40 years ago tonight. Some things are meant to be. Oh, and for the record, yes I do believe in love at first sight.

What do you think?

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Written by Rex Trulove

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  1. What a great love story! I too believe in love at first sight as my hubby and I felt the same why 51 years ago when we first met. Yes, their have been heartaches and sadness of losing love ones, major illnesses but the good times out weigh the bad and God is always with us. Happy Anniversary and continue making wonderful memories. ??

    • Thank you very much! Our son is here for our renewal of vows ceremony and it is the first time we’ve seen him in eight years. The ceremony will be held tomorrow after church services. Today, I plan to take my son and daughter to the National Bison Range.

      Neither of us could have come close to imagining what would be going on 40 years from the day we said, “I do” and didn’t think far ahead from the night we met.

    • Thank you! Yes, it was love at first sight, for both of us. I think that one reason so many people don’t believe in love at first sight is that it often happens, but is most often one-sided. In our case, we both felt the same way.

    • I have no doubt at all that God brought us together. We are also the only ones in our generation and the generation that preceded us, in both our families, that have never been through a divorce. Both of our kids have, in fact.

      At the time, I was a luke-warm Christian. I became a Christian when I was 14 and living with an uncle who was a minister (and school teacher). Then I turned my back on God. He never abandons us, but people often abandon Him. When we married, I believed in God, Jesus, and the bible, but I never read the bible, so what I knew about Jesus, God, or the Holy Spirit could have been written on a matchbook cover.

      It was after we moved into the place we are currently living in and started going to the church about a block away that I rediscovered joy, love, and God (which are all the same thing). I rededicated to God and was baptized again two years ago. God hasn’t stopped blessing us ever since (or even before, really).

      Splendid example: A week ago, our landlord came by and let us know that she’d tentatively sold the property and that we’d need to move within 30 days, once the paperwork went through. Our daughter flipped out. Homes are very hard to find here, especially homes that allow pets. I don’t retire until October, so funds are extremely limited. Our daughter just got a new job, too, in Ronan, about 60 miles from here. She’d already planned on commuting, but the cost of doing that cuts even more into the budget when we had to find a place, figure out how to pay deposits, first and last, plus the expense of moving. It was an insurmountable problem. Yet, not once did I consider canceling our renewal vows.

      I refused to get upset, though, despite it all. Instead, I prayed to God and put it all in His hands. I prayed that He’d help us find a place we could afford, that would allow pets, and make it possible for us to move there. I also prayed that if he wanted us to live elsewhere, we would move to a different town and that if it was his will that we must give up our pets, we would, though it would break our hearts. I said that I trusted him completely. He had never let us down, though many times we had let Him down. Finally, I prayed that if he wanted us to stay where we are for now, that he would make it happen. That was the biggest longshot of them all, but I put it all in His hands.

      They weren’t just words. I believed that he would help us. He did. Boy, did he ever.

      This morning, the new owners came by…specifically to tell us that we don’t have to move. He actually bought the double lot so his son could move a double-wide trailer into the vacant lot beside us. He said that he has no intention of making us move and wanted to make sure that we knew that we could stay.

      It was kind of the man to do that, but it was also an answer to my prayer and yet another blessing from God. If I wasn’t a Christian already, I sure would be now. The impossible has just been made possible.

      • I most certainly did. I played almost every day, at least at home. I’m out of practice with the guitar, but I do play the piano frequently. I haven’t played the keyboard in some time and don’t currently own a sax, trumpet, organ, autoharp, or accordion, so I make do with the piano and guitar. I’m just not well enough practiced, so I don’t play like I used to. I still do sing, though.

    • Thank you! I tell people that I’ve never been back to Reno after getting married there, which is true. I pause to let that sink in, then say, “When you hit the mega-jackpot, there is no reason to ever go there again.”

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