Chapter 1 Marly Meets Destiny
When I grow up, I’m going to marry him, I thought back in late autumn of 1966, standing in front of our tiny 4-room house on the main drag of a small town in Illinois, truly the middle of nowhere. I was 10 years old, soon to be 11, an ugly duckling hoping to someday turn into a swan. (A girl has to dream, doesn’t she?) Walking towards me on the sidewalk was a dark-haired, handsome, 6 feet tall man. He was dressed in loafers, white Levi’s (very fashionable back then), and an olive green corduroy coat.
One look at him and I knew. This was my destiny. Nothing would ever change my mind. You may ask how a 10-year-old child could know anything about destiny. It wasn’t for me to understand. It just was. My heart skipped a beat when he murmured a low “Hi” upon passing. I was mute and couldn’t have spoken if my life depended on it.
Life would take many twists and turns after that first encounter. My daddy had died in the spring of that year, leaving Mom, my little sister, and me with virtually nothing. Mom did not drive a car, dependent on friends to take us wherever necessary. Before Daddy died, Mom worked swing shift in a factory in the next town, a few miles north of us. Upon Daddy’s sudden death, she quit her job to stay home with us. This was a brand new experience for Beth and me. We had always stayed with baby-sitters or Daddy. Without Mom’s paycheck from the factory our family income consisted of a small monthly widows and children Social Security check and an even smaller Veterans pension.
It was hard for all of us. I wanted normalcy, even if it meant poverty and alcoholism, which is what “normal” meant to me back then. My poor mom wanted the love of her life back. At only 29, she was far too young to be widowed. My little sister was clueless at only 5 years old. “I wish my daddy would come back,” she said one summer day as she blew the fuzzy seeds off a dandelion and made a wish.
Early summer brought the “widow hunters.” My mom was and still is a very attractive, petite lady. She has never weighed over 115 pounds in her life! Honestly, wouldn’t you think God would have planned a little better when He created my sister and me? Both of us could give Mom a few pounds and never miss an ounce! Men would call or stop by our house trying to date her.
“Trying” is the operative word in this case. No way was my mom going to date them. She wanted no part of somebody new, still grieving Daddy. One gentleman was probably a very nice man and a good catch. He was very tall with jet-black hair. He was also divorced with a crazy bitch for an ex-wife and two little girls. No way was my mom going to get involved with that! She allowed him to come to the house for Sunday dinner once. After that, he was history. It’s strange how memories work, isn’t it? I can clearly remember the pink and black-flecked Formica table in our kitchen that day. Mr. Eligible was very polite, but quiet. he poor man was probably terrified of the 10-year-old brat sitting to his left. Did I mention I did not want a replacement Daddy?
Others tried to wiggle into our lives that summer, but Mom resisted. She was too busy trying to house, feed and clothe her girls. A few more twists and turns had to take place before her destiny and mine would appear.
Marilyn Slagel enjoys reading, needlework, quilting, and regular board meetings (wine, food, and gossip) with her friends. She is a member of the St. Louis Writers Guild. Marilyn currently makes her home in a tiny, rural Illinois town with her very spoiled dog, Shadow.