February 27, 1998
Covington, Alleghany County, Virginia
For this, my very first Sentimental Sunday post, I thought I'd share with you my most sentimental of individuals in my family tree. And the most sentimental of moments in my life. The day I married the Texican.
I recently shared with you what a treasure he is to me [see my post from Treasure Chest Thursday - December 31, 2009 ]. Today, I thought I'd share a little about the man himself.
The Texican was born on June 11, 1949 to Joseph Wright Henry and Betty Louise Rotge in San Antonio, Texas. He was the eldest of 7 children born to Betty. At 17 he enlisted in the U.S. Army [he says to keep from going to jail - seems he was a rather naughty young man!]. Just a short time later, he married. It was a rocky marriage from the start, two young people, neither ready to marry, and both hotheaded and temperamental. Soon he was ordered to Korea.
While in Korea, he received papers in the mail one day. Seems his young bride used her power of attorney and divorced him. And he was single once more. He attempted to drown his sorrows, and loss, in alcohol. He earned a terrible ulcer for that.
After 7 years in the military, he got out and went back to his native Texas. He worked every kind of job imaginable. He was a driller on an oil rig, a shrimper on a boat out of Port Aransas at Corpus Christi, a welder, and an apartment maintenance supervisor, among just a few of the jobs he held.
In 1975 he married again. But it seemed he was to repeat the same bad habits he had when he married the first time. Again to a young girl. Hot headed and temperamental, they fought constantly. In 1976 a daughter was born, and the pair continued to argue constantly.
Finally in 1978 they separated and divorced.
The Texican continued to wander and work a myriad of jobs.
In the mid-80's, he decided to go to Alaska and work on the oil pipeline there. He headed off in an old pickup truck. He never made it. He got as far as Sheridan, Wyoming, where he spent a year working on a dude ranch. Being from south-Texas, he says it was the coldest winter of his life!
He eventually made it back to south-Texas. And decided to go back to school and got his air-frame mechanics license. With that new diploma and license in hand, he took off for Roanoke, Virginia where a promise of a job for United Airlines awaited him. But when he arrived, he found out the job went to someone more qualified. And he was forced to work whatever job was available to make ends meet. He worked for a convenience store and for an Arby's restaurant for about a year before landing a job in a small maunfacturing company as a welder. He eventually worked his way up to shop foreman, and that was what he was doing when I met him.
About two years after we were married he went to work for an international, French owned manufacturing firm in Salem, Virginia, and was there until 2003. It was then that his mother was diagnosed with cancer, and her prognosis was very poor. The family was going to have to institutionalize her, as no one could care for her at home. Since I had become a housewife, I could not bear to think of her having to leave her home. And I flew to Texas, while the Texican stayed in Virginia, to care for his mother. A few weeks later, he resigned his job, and joined me there.
We went from a secure job, making excellent income, to mere minimum wage as he worked for a glass company as shop foreman in San Antonio.
Just a short month after I arrived, Betty succombed to the cancer that had spread throughout her entire body. It was probably the most difficult death I had attended [I was a geriatric nurse practitioner for 13 years before settling into the role of housewife with the Texican.] Not just because she was my mother-in-law, but because she suffered so terribly.
After Betty's death, we found a place of our own to live, and we soon settled down into life in south-Texas.
In February of 2005, the Texican decided he wanted to become a truck driver. And so he went to Roadmaster Truck Driving School in San Antonio. He graduated in March, and went to work driving for C.R. England, out of Salt Lake City, Utah.
He spent three months in training before being given his own truck to drive. And in June, he drove back to south-Texas, and I got on the truck with him. I road with him, literally living on the truck, for a full year.
In that year, we got to know more about one another than all of our previous time spent together. [Try living with your spouse in a truck with an interior about the size of a small bathroom! You'll find out the good, the bad and the ugly very quick!]
We travelled to all 48 of the contiguous United States in that year. And I have literally thousands of photographs of our journey. [Many can be seen on Flickr.]
Eventually, I began to want to "nest", as I called it. A place to take a long hot soak in a tub [rather than a shower in a truckstop!] A kitchen to cook in. A bed that wasn't vibrating from the humming of a diesel engine! And so I got off the truck in West Virginia where my parents were living with my sister, since my mother's stroke in 1995.
I've been here ever since, and began my genealogy research business, which the Texican totally supports me in. He encourages me to learn and to do whatever my heart desires. Ladies... so sorry... but he's taken! I know... I got one of the last great men when I got him!!!
Since then, the Texican has gone on to drive for 2 other companies, being with this last one for over 2 years now.
He is able to get home nearly every weekend, which affords me long weeks to work my business and stay up late [sometimes too late!] and work on my passion. Genealogy.
When he comes home on the weekends, the Texican and I spend all of our time together. And we're like newlyweds, never wanting to be apart then! And when he's on the road, we speak to one another 20 to 30 times a day! [Thank goodness for one rate cell phone plans!]
It isn't the life we had dreamed of having when we married in 1998. We had hoped he could retire by now. But we don't begrudge one minute of leaving Virginia to go care for the Texican's mother. We'd do it again, in a heartbeat.
Still, the life we have now isn't that bad. And in some ways, we have it very good! [It's very difficult to have an argument long distance, for example. You can't stay angry if you can't see the individual you're angry with!] And then, there's also the fact that when we see one another on the weekend, it's a joy to see each other! The old addage, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder" is quite true!
Ah, but there's still a little wish that we would win the lottery, and he could retire and come home to stay. To never have to say good-bye on Sunday evening... what a joy that would be!
This man is such a treasure to me. And to my five children. [Incidentally, he and I married when they were all five teenagers! Who'd have thunk a man would step willingly into that lions den???]
And so, yes, I'm very sentimental about the Texican. But more than sentimental, he's my knight in shining armor. He rode into my life at a time when I needed him most. He's my hero.
And for that, I thank God every day of my life.