November 10th is,of course,the 232nd Birthday of the United States Marine Corps.
More important-to both of us-it is the anniversary of the night we met. This year would have been our 52nd.
The occasion was the Marine Corps Birthday Celebration,held in a setting not much different from the one you see pictured here.Young women, who belonged to a Red Cross-affiliated group,were there to help the mostly young and single Marines celebrate. One of them caught my eye,and I found myself hoping against hope she'd say "yes" when I asked her to dance.
In truth, I monopolized her that evening-although it was "against the rules" for the ladies to allow themselves to be monopolized. By the time July rolled around, I had monopolized her into a wedding dress.
Fifty years later, we celebrated by renewing our vows. ( In the Marine Corps, that's called "shipping over".)
I was a little reluctant about making that kind of fuss, but I'm glad we did,because my wife was a "short-timer" : something neither of us realized.
These were, I'm sad to say, the last really happy days of her life.
It would be easy to talk about the bitter days,and weeks, and months that followed; about how empty the house seems sometimes; but I'm getting past that: little by little; and I find myself celebrating the fact we had so many years together-in spite of what sometimes seemed insurmountable difficulties .
Looking at the calendar again, I realize she must have made this entry in December-shortly before she went into the hospital. Though she downplayed the seriousness of her condition to anyone who inquired, she did a lot of small things to put her affairs in order.
One of them was to pick out a kitchen calendar -out of the stack we always got at that time of year,and write in " USMC - Semper Fi " : code for " Remember me ."
Aye-aye,Great Granny Grumbles !!