My wife and I love to watch college basketball. It’s how we often spend many quiet winter evenings together at home.
We’ll watch a college hoops game at 7 p.m. and even switch back and forth to other collegiate games that are simultaneously broadcast on TV. At 9, we start the process all over again, usually until half time when it’s lights out for this tired and retired couple.
When its tournament time, more commonly known as March Madness, we are in basketball heaven. Neva claims the love seat while I relax in the recliner. Now, it’s not like all we do is watch talented athletes run up and down the court making incredible plays and acrobatic shots.
In our 48 years of marriage, Neva has taught me to multi-task. With the game going full blast on TV, she reads or works on her iPad while I often write or edit photos to post on my online blog or social media. Of course, the game gets our full attention if it is close, especially as the game clock ticks down.
Basketball isn’t the only kind of madness happening in March for us. We just celebrated our wedding anniversary. How and where we met and when we married is the rest of the remarkable story.
It was one of those “meant to be” situations. In June 1970 before we ever knew one another, Neva and I separately agreed to supervise a group of 10 energetic youth from the church I attended. It was a weeklong work-study project deep into eastern Kentucky’s coalmine region. The first time I saw her was when the group assembled to leave.
Our work involved hoeing three acres of cucumbers in the morning’s coolness. We studied and visited local sites in the afternoon when the temperatures and humidity were both off the charts.
To further learn about the Appalachian culture, we visited local homes far up those infamous hollows. We also did home repairs. Short on tools, we used large rocks to pound roofing nails into tarpaper.
It was an inspiring experience. What impressed me most, however, was Neva. Love interfered with logic. We were married the following March at the height of both college and Ohio high school basketball tournaments.
Our fathers had to wonder about our timing. They both loved basketball. We thought for sure that Neva’s father would walk her down the aisle holding a transistor radio to one ear listening to a game.
Somehow we survived that day and all the days that have followed. We haven’t lived a charmed life together, and it certainly hasn’t been perfect. But we have thrived as both a couple and as individuals. Mutual forgiveness, love, and trust will do that.
Our skills and interests have nicely balanced our life together. Neva is a marvelous cook and I am a grateful, hungry husband. Neva prefers reading. I write. She sews. I bird. She quilts. I take photos. You get the picture, no pun intended.
As March plays out into April, Neva and I will be watching how the college basketball playoffs turn out. Of course we each fill out a bracket, making our best guesses as to which teams will be in the final four. The chances of our winning are low. Our marriage, however, has beaten the odds.
Meanwhile, we’ll keep holding hands, and doing what we can to make this world a better place. We have celebrated another personal March Madness milestone and look forward to many more together.
© Bruce Stambaugh 2019
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