When I met him, I should not have been where I was. In church dressed to the nines with sunglasses trying to survive a hangover. I was not old enough to drink. However, that and little else stopped me from what I wanted to do, especially when I had my older school sisters of a lifetime and they were with me.
I never pledged a sorority but associated with many sisters. The fraternity brothers always had the best parties. Once I attended one, then another, it was as if I was expected to be all of them..
I’d dance for hours at a time. Yes, Dancing With the Stars are not the only ones who keep slim and trim from dancing. There were few dance steps I could not do because, there would be someone who had learned a new dance or step in travels or a party and it was taught to all of us.
That comfortable July night, the frat-bros had chartered a cruise liner that plied the New England waters for hours. We sailed at a slow pace to the international waters and returned. With the music, food, drinks, smooth sailing and frivolity I had a grand time.
By time we docked, and I got a ride home it was about three that Sunday morning. I got into bed about four. At seven, I heard a noise. My bedroom door opened and there stood my Cherokee Mom with a metal pot and slotted spoon in her hands. The sounds of the largest Native Peoples’ Pow-Wow would have been quieter than the noises Mom was making.
In between her clangs I got the “Cherokee Mom” lecture that I’d hear at least once a week. “We are subject to alcoholism; diabetes and other diseases stemming from drinking. If you get arrested for underage drinking you will spend the night in jail and if you get your photo in the paper, I’ll skin you alive.”
That Sunday morning Mom made me get up, dress and threw me out of the house where I paid half the bills. My retorts did not have weight. Mom reminded me that I may be paying half the bills, but her name was on the lease because I was too young to sign it. Yes, I made the money to be able to pay half the bills. Education was my door opener, never my age.
I knew the nearest Baptist church had theatre lighting and where I could take a nap at nine in the morning. I slept through whatever they did. The organist woke me with a loud crescendo and I heard the pastor ask the visitors to stand. I saw this gorgeous Marine uniform stand. I could not hear and did not see his face.
I tried to escape before the pastor ended the service, but a neighbor recognized me and held me up. She had someone she wanted me to meet. I told her I had to catch a bus. Then another, Mom’s friend had grabbed the Marine by the hand and introduced him to me. With my best Boston manners, I greeted him and excused myself to catch a bus. Then I hear Ruth yell, “Call your Mother and tell her you are bringing a Marine home for dinner.” Again, I excused myself from the Marine and took Ruth aside. “Your friend threw me out of the house this morning and I’m not to return until I am completely sober. I’m going to my Cousin’s cook out and get a ‘hair of the dog’. “
“No, you are not getting another drink. Now call your Mom! I obeyed my elder. I stepped into the phone booth, dropped a dime, Mom answered and said, “What?” I said, “Ruth wants to talk to you.” I stepped out of the booth and handed Ruth the phone. The Ruth said, “Your Mom wants to talk to you.”
“Be home in ninety minutes, not ninety-one; not eighty-nine.” She was furious.
The Marine and I walked around the Franklin Park Zoo until it was time to get on a bus to take him home to meet Mom.
Upon entering the house, I smelled the most delicious aromas. Mom had knocked herself out cooking for the Marine. I started to introduce him to Mom and forgot his name. He did the introductions.
The table was elegant and the dinner was ready for eating. Mom had set two places.
The Marine was shown the bathroom and given a guest towel.
As we sat for dinner, he sat me and then sat himself. Mom had disappeared, but I knew she was listening.
The food was scrumptious. After dinner the three of us chatted a few minutes. He mentioned having to return to his ship. I gave him directions for a fast trip to the harbor. As he was leaving, I slipped him a three by five sheet of paper with my name, office number with extension and my coffee break times.
Mom refused to speak to me except to say “Put the leftovers in the refrigerator and clean up the kitchen.” Frankly, I enjoyed the silence. Night did not come fast enough.
I went to bed early. Monday morning I was sober and dressed for business. My Fortune 500 company had a switchboard. At ten just as I was going for coffee, my telephone rang. It was the Marine. He spoke for three minutes. Those days that is all the time one got on the telephone for a dime. I went and got my coffee and returned to my desk which was frowned upon.
By the afternoon break hundreds in the building knew, “Pat-ri-cia has a-no-ther boy-friend .” I ignored those mavens.
This time they were right. We were never apart except when he had duty. I liked him as a friend, and learned to love him. I was not looking at marriage at any age. He was all to me then and still many years after his death, I have two years, seven months and twelve days of married bliss memories. We had a blessing by clergy on Christmas Eve.
Then we had Mom’s over the top wedding in June.
Mom died days after her forty-first birthday, so I had a funeral to endure before we were legally married. Mom refused to sign for me to marry until she got her way.
I got the most fantastic man for a husband that ever took a breath. Even in death I still feel his aura. I’ve a good imagination but not enough to conjure his presence.
In time, we’ll be together again. Then the two happiest “kids who ever played in a sandbox” will continue their love through eternity.
Causes Patricia Barbee Supports
Gold Star Wives of America, Inc.
Any effort to aid the elderly, children and enslaved women.