“Swing like you’re out of control.” Those words came from my golf instructor. Not the words I was expecting to hear and who hears those words anyway from a golf instructor? He said I had a good swing it just needed to be faster. We were invited to Palm Desert for a few days and I couldn’t wait to try that out. Let me just say I need to practice that some more as most of my shots went out of control along with the swing.
From Palm Desert it wasn’t a very long drive to Balboa Island to see a very good friend. Ann Marie and I had driven from Minnesota to California in my blue 1967 Mustang when we graduated from college. We both had teaching jobs in Anaheim, CA in the same school. We discovered Balboa Island and rented a house there, which wasn’t a bad commute to Anaheim.
There were some cute guys living in a house right down the street from us, one of whom Ann Marie was very interested in. Suddenly I didn’t see much of her. But what about Dick, her college boyfriend, still in Minnesota? Everyone knew Ann Marie and Dick were going to get married and everyone loved Dick, especially mom and dad. Ann Marie’s sister Sheila came out to visit and on meeting John, the new guy, she became very alarmed. This would just not do! She rushed back to Minnesota and told Dick he’d better get out to CA ASAP as Ann Marie seemed to be quite enamored with the intruder down the street from her.
Then came that fateful day. I was doing dishes or something and looking out of our window. Ann Marie was down the block at John’s. Who do I think I see walking down the street with a suitcase in his hand? It couldn’t be could it? But it was! I called her in a panic and said “Ann Marie, get home now, Dick is walking toward our house with a suitcase in his hand!” She ran out of John’s house and caught Dick before he got to our house. Later we heard that John and his roommates had pulled all the shades and locked all the doors. Dick was a big guy.
Ann Marie broke up with Dick and after she and John had been dating awhile she was expecting
an engagement ring for Christmas. She dragged John back to Minnesota for Christmas so her parents could share the joy of her engagement. John was a California guy and the prospect of a cold Christmas in Minnesota didn’t thrill him. Ann Marie’s parents had still not gotten over her breakup with Dick but they were trying. Under the tree on Christmas day there was a large box from John for Ann Marie. “Surely,” Ann Marie thought, “it’s one of those boxes that has smaller boxes inside. How romantic!” What was inside of this box? No small boxes, no ring. It was a wetsuit. She wanted to burst into tears but couldn’t in front of her parents. She had to act happy and doing that when she just wanted to kill him was really hard. John was so proud of himself for picking out the perfect gift. He was a sailor, a boater, a deep sea fisherman after all and had just given his girlfriend the perfect gift. Shortly after that John was given an ultimatium. ” We get married or I’m out of here.”
John and Ann Marie were married for 48 years and John just passed away. He had an incredibly
dry sense of humor, he was a great story teller, loved an argument and also to manage his kid’s careers much to their dismay. We all loved his sayings. He had a lot but my favorite and everyone’s favorite was: “There’s always room for one more at the dingy dock.” You could take that several ways but we’re sure John is now parked at the dingy dock in the sky and we will all miss him and his witticisms very much.
Their daughter and our daughter are the same age and happen to live in the same county in the Bay Area. They have become friends. I call that a happy ending.