People stories are interesting. Real life, unvarnished and easy to grasp. How did this couple get from there to here? What is the core that rules their lives? I recently asked a friend, in passing, how she had met her husband. This is the story of how they met and then some.
She was studying her Masters Degree and her college roommate had a cousin who was visiting from New York. He stopped by the dorm to say hi. At the time, he was a Physics student working on his Doctorate Degree. Standing over six feet tall, slender, with long hippy style hair, he fell head over heals in love with the five foot beauty that was his cousins roommate. He barely spoke Spanish. She spoke no English but the love affair was real and the bond enduring. He transferred from NYC to UPR and they became engaged to be married.
The bride is from a very tight knit family that had immigrated from Spain to Puerto Rico with intentions of farming the land in a mountain town called Naranjito. And so they did. A family of farmers where the youngest of the children had tasks to complete since they could barely walk. The bride tells how her father and grandfather would ask her to carry a cup of water from the well to the house, without spilling a drop. I see her in my mind. Little hands staring at the cup in hopes of not losing any water to avoid making another trip. Work ethics were instilled at such a young age. We could all learn a lesson here.
Back to the romance. The long haired, English speaking Gringo did not fit the mental image of a safe future for their precious daughter. They could not come to grips with her choice for a husband. But the couple held their ground and went ahead with their wedding plans. By the way, his family wasn’t happy either. They complained that she was too small. Imagine dealing with that.
There wasn’t a lot of money those days for farmers in Naranjito. The bride and groom were able to secure a $2,000 loan to pay for their wedding. The father of the bride had suffered from anxiety attacks and the choice of groom made them more severe. He became adamant that he would not, could not, attend the wedding.
The bride was outraged that her father would not be walking her down the isle and ‘giving her away’, as was tradition. “What are people going to say”, she cried. “Everyone is going to think I’m pregnant”, she moaned. Nothing moved the father of the bride to attend the wedding and walk his daughter down the isle. He was overcome by his anxiety.
I’m told that during this period of time, this mountain town of Spanish farmers was made up entirely of white folks. I have no idea how that came about but that was their reality. It just was what it was. In response to her father’s refusal to attend her wedding she invited a close friend, a young, handsome African American man, with a huge afro hairdo, to walk her down the isle. And so it happened. All conventions were broken and rearranged into a new reality. It’s a new and loving world.
The picture included above is of pure harmony and happiness and it tells the real story. After the wedding celebration and the modest reception the bride and groom gathered the cash gifts received, got on his motorcycle and traveled through the mountains to the closest airport. They had enough money to take a flight to one of the Virgin Islands. Once they arrived at St Thomas they couldn’t secure a hotel room because she looked so young and tiny that they were being told that no rooms were available. Why didn’t the hotels request ID’s? I do not know. Finally, the most expensive hotel on the island did offer the honeymoon suite which swallowed up all their money. They stayed for one night and during the day traveled the island stopping at each beach, each pub and all the tourist attractions. They had a memorable and wonderful one day honeymoon and back home they went.
This union has produced four children, seven grandchildren and an endless fountain of love and understanding. The little mountain girl and the tall, New York hippy will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary this year. They have succeeded in creating a microcosm of what families could and should be. Too bad Dad missed the wedding. I recount this story in honor of true love. It does exist. Thank you for reading.