We were married almost 30 years ago which has given us thirty years of “life stories” together. I guess, besides myself and Nascar, there was only one true passion he had and that was his cameras. Paul loved photography and used to be quite an avid photographer. He’d pour over photography magazines for hours and loved shooting pictures…of everything! At times he was inseparable from the camera. He loved that Nikon camera. One of the many times he had his camera with him (at one of my family functions), he put it down to shoot some pool and one of my cousins (today she is a teacher, but back then a little bratty LOL) picked it up and, wham! On the floor. I gasped because I knew how much he loved his camera. He ran over to it, not wanting to make a scene - being my family and all – said: “she must’ve just knocked it off” to which April said “ No, I threw it down” Oh my goodness!!! I couldn’t believe what had just happened. Did I mention that he loved that camera? That is close to an understatement! The fact that he didn’t strangle her right then and there was a good indication he either loved me or was in shock. But that’s not when I knew he loved me.
We tell each other daily that we love each other and sometimes when I’ve made an exceptional dinner, (i.e., one he loves), I’ll get a standing ovation. No, seriously, I will! When he’s away on business trips, he’ll call me multiple times a day just to share something he has seen, or to make sure I know he’s safe, or that I am safe. I’m not so good at that. He’s better.
Paul has never given me a reason not to believe he loves me. But one day, in particular was the day I knew he loved me.
We had gone to his brother’s graduation from Florida State. This was his baby brother of whom Paul was so proud of. He got a good many pictures at this event, for sure!
After the ceremony at the huge civic center in Tallahassee, we along with hundreds of other people were trying to make our mass exodus off this equally huge campus. We trudged what seem by me to be miles (ok, it was actually yards) only to find we had chosen the wrong path and the gate was locked. Several were just climbing over it, as did Paul and is brothers and sisters, but he didn’t feel I could do it so directed me to go a different route, completely within eye sight. I would go underneath what looked to be concrete grandstands, thinking back, maybe it was just the concrete building, but at any rate, there was crawl space and if you bent down you could pass easily. Easily, IF you don’t misjudge the height and just as you’re about to come out of this thing you raise up, conk your head and fall down, stalling about one hundred graduates trying to do the same thing!
I remember one of his family members saying “Jeanette fell down”. I could see Paul in the corner of my eye and what he did next is something I will never forget. He dropped his camera bag, jumped over the fence and ran to me. Did you get the part where I said he “DROPPED HIS CAMERA BAG”?!? He didn’t even say “here, would you hold this for me”. No. When he got to me, (there were still people stalled because I fell at an angle I couldn’t pull my legs up under me to get up) he helped me up, asked over and over if I was ok. I think I would’ve been tempted to say “you can’t even crawl?!?” LOL. But I also saw the look of, first concern, then of love as he gently helped me up and held me. That’s when I knew he loved me. When I realized that “I” was his prized possession.