Shannon here: Historical romance author, Penny Zeller and her grandmother share how her grandparents met. Comment on any post dated April 18 – 22 for a chance to win a copy of Kaydie. Deadline: April 23, midnight central time. Here’s Penny and her grandmother:
My grandma, Ruth, shares the story below of how she and my grandpa, Johnny, met. In December of 2009, my grandpa passed away after nearly 60 years of marriage. I could always see the love they shared and wanted to model my own marriage after theirs.
Yes, my grandparents disagreed, argued, and fought at times. But they also laughed, rejoiced, and brought love, inspiration, and blessing to our family. They shared wonderful times, but also hardship. In the last months of my grandpa’s life, he was an invalid and my grandma stood by his side, caring for him, loving him, and singing hymns to comfort him in his last days.
A Man Named Johnny
In March of 1947, I was a 17-year-old senior in California. Every week there was a meeting for the Girls’ Guild, of which I was a member. One evening, I was on my way to a meeting and to meet a couple of girls at a nearby gas station. We would then walk the rest of the way to church together. Little did I know that on that day, my life would change.
When I reached the gas station, I noticed a cute guy changing a tire on his 1939 Chevy Sedan. “Hi,” I said.
“Is it hard to change a tire?” I asked.
“No. Would you like to try it?”
He handed me a lug wrench. Luckily I had slacks on so I was able to crouch down and turn a couple of the lug bolts. I was feeling pretty smart and proud of myself that I was making a good impression. Only later did I learn that he had loosened the lug bolts before I took my turn to make it easier for me.
He finished changing the tire while we continued to talk and I learned his name was Johnny. All too soon, it was time for me to leave for the Girls’ Guild meeting and he offered to give me a ride.
For the next two days, I walked to the store on an errand for my mom, hoping to see the handsome stranger I had recently met. On the third day, I started walking home when he stopped his car beside me. “Can you go for a drive?”
My heart pumping, I answered, “I’ll have to ask my mom…and you would have to meet her.”
Minutes later my mother agreed to the drive.
As we drove, Johnny told me how he had been drafted into WWII the day he turned 18. After basic training, he was sent to tour duty in Europe, and later to the Philippines. I learned that while he was on duty, he contracted Malaria and Amebic dysentery. He had to be hospitalized and lost 58 pounds.
We then stopped at a small grocery store for some snacks. Johnny chose Hostess chocolate cupcakes.
We stood by the gas pumps eating, and just as I was taking a bite of the middle of the cupcake, Johnny reached over and lightly pushed my hand, causing the cupcake cream to go everywhere on my face.
Luckily, I had noticed a hose for filling radiators. I quickly grabbed the hose, turned on the water, and really soaked him good. We laughed and laughed. Later he told me that it was at that moment that he knew I was the girl for him.
Two years and three months later, we were married in Yuma, Arizona. I didn’t care that we didn’t have a fancy wedding, I was just thrilled I had my Johnny.
In the next ten years, we were blessed with five beautiful children. Johnny worked for the fire department, followed by the police department.
We went through some tough times, such as, when Johnny, who was in his parked police car, was rear-ended by a drunk driver going 65 mph. It nearly killed him and caused a back injury so severe that he was forced to retire from his position on the police force. Yet, we praised God that he was alive.
Johnny retired at $232 per month, not much for a family of seven. Many times to make ends meet, our entire family pitched in and worked odd jobs, including cleaning 300-foot long chicken houses. We were poor, but we were happy.
For our 50th wedding anniversary, Johnny surprised me with a new wedding ring, which he placed on my finger above the first ring. When asked why I wear two wedding rings. I answered, “One is for the first fifty years and the other is for the next fifty, which we are working on.”
Meeting that cute boy all those years ago was the beginning of a wonderful life – a life that I have shared and treasured with the man I love – a man named Johnny.
Learn more about Penny: www.pennyzeller.com.
About the book:
For the first time in years, Kaydie Worthington Kraemer can breathe easily. Although she is still haunted by memories of her abusive husband, Darius, she takes comfort in knowing the man is dead. Staying with her sister McKenzie and brother–in–law, Zach Sawyer, at their ranch, Kaydie is still wary of men, especially now that she has another life inside of her to protect. As she looks forward to her baby’s birth, she builds a protective wall around herself that won’t be easy to tear down.
Ranch hand Jonah Dickenson views his boss, Zach, like a brother. He does not, however, envy Zach’s new role as a husband. Deserted by his mother at a young age and forever despised and rejected by his own father, Jonah has few close relationships. But there’s something about Kaydie that draws him to her and makes him question his decision to remain a bachelor.
When Cedric Van Aulst, an old friend of Kaydie’s, comes to town, an unforeseen prospect of marriage arises. Cedric is someone Kaydie trusts. Will she settle for a safe union with him, or can she trust God to guard her heart and her life in the arms of Jonah?
Come back April 22 for an excerpt from Penny’s book, Kaydie.