Thursday, November 8, 2012

It Was the 70's

On this date in 1975 I married the love of my life. We met at a bank teller's window in January of that same year. He was the teller and I was the customer. I made a daily trip to the bank for my employer.

After a couple of weeks, he invited me to have lunch. From that day forward, we went out every weekend. We had our first date on the last Saturday in January. By Valentine's Day I knew I was in love. Pretty soon we were spending every waking hour together. I met and spent time with his family and he did the same with mine. He still tells the story of how scary it was to meet my family for the first time. They were all gathered in the living room when he came to pick me up. As we left he said to me, "I'm so nervous I could pee my pants."

By late summer we were engaged. He popped the question after cooking dinner for me at the tiny cottage where he lived. We were excited and rushed to tell our parents. That's where our whirlwind romance turned into a bit of a storm.

Neither of our parents thought we were right for each other. My mother's first reaction was, "If you get married in the Catholic church, I won't be there." My response was that I understood if her convictions prevented her from being there, but we would indeed be married in the Catholic church. She eventually relented and was there front and center on my wedding day.

Grandad's parents were even less enthusiastic. His father's first question was directed to me, "Are you going to become Catholic?" My response was that perhaps I would consider it eventually, but at that time I didn't know enough about it. His response was "In that case, I cannot allow this marriage." The next few moments are burned into my memory vividly. My husband-to-be looked his father in the eye and said, "You don't understand. We are not asking for your permission. We're telling you that we are going to be married." The resulting silence was deafening. Then he looked at me and said, "We're leaving."

Those words he spoke to his father were the most beautiful words I think I had ever heard. His father was an old-fashioned patriarch. He did not give advice to his children; he gave instructions. I don't believe any of them had ever openly defied him before. To do so was especially difficult for my husband. He just does not have an ounce of defiance in him. As far as I know this was the only time he ever really stood up to his dad and it took a big toll on him. They did not even speak for a full two weeks until his older brother interceded. He brought the of them together and made them talk. It didn't resolve everything, it took a much bigger incident and a near tragedy to completely reconcile all of us.

In the first week of September, while driving home from work, the Volkswagen that my then-fiance was driving was hit broadside by a car doing approximately 80 miles per hour in a 35 mph zone. It rolled three times and hit several parked cars. When I arrived at the hospital, the paramedics were still there. They told me that when they saw the vehicle, they knew that whoever was inside would not be alive. The next week, which we all spent sitting in a hospital room and waiting room while he battled for his life, changed the way we all felt about each other. A plastic surgeon reconstructed the left side of his nose and face. It was more than a year before he could walk without crutches or a leg brace. This near tragedy brought us together as nothing else could have done.

We considered postponing our wedding, but the invitations were printed, the plans were all in place, and our money had been spent. We addressed wedding invitations while sitting in the hospital room. And that story will explain the crutches in our wedding pictures.

When you look at my wedding pictures, just remember, it was the seventies. That's the only explanation I have for the tuxedos and the bridesmaids dresses. But, I will say, orange is still one of my favorite colors and it's entirely possible that I would still choose it today.

Becky Mingle, Jan Skelton Caskey, Laurie Valenta, Brenda McWilliams McCauley, Bylinda McCabe, bride & groom, Gary Valenta, Danny Valenta, Steve Psencik, Terry Rose, John Mingle, Ray Sykowski, Pete Vanecek, Bill McCabe

My husband's parents and I eventually came to love each other. I actually told my mother-in-law that if I ever left him I would have come home to her instead of my parents. They were and are good people. They just grew up in a different way than we did and they had to learn to roll with the punches. They also had to learn to deal with an outspoken and opinionated daughter-in-law who saw things in a different way than they did.
Golly, we were young.

This is our 37th wedding anniversary. It is also our Nick and Marie's 4th anniversary, and it would have been my parent's 70th wedding anniversary. It's a really big day in our family.

November 8th is also my sister, Kay's, birthday. I think she's 63 today. My sister, Bylinda, is hosting a family birthday party for her this Saturday. We'll be traveling to LaVernia for the party and then spending the night in San Antonio so we can spend a little time with Our Little Princesses and their parents. I've set aside tomorrow for baking oatmeal cookies to take with us.

Tonight, we'll go out to dinner to celebrate our anniversary. I'm thinking Italian sounds good.


  1. I love a love story. Happy Anniversary.

    1. Cecilia, I've edited this post to include a picture of the full wedding party. Thanks for commenting and keeping up with the Valenta Clan.

  2. Happy Anniversary! What a story! I thought my parental story was something but you got me beat! You were such a beautiful bride! Hope you're enjoying your dinner!

  3. Thanks Kc. I've added a few more pictures to this post.

    I'm also checking to see of the comment reply option works. Please let me know if you get a notification of this reply. I'd love to be able to be more interactive, but I'm not sure how it works.

  4. I love all those photos!

    Happy anniversary :)