Looking back on the early years of our marriage, it’s a wonder Mary and I, and our children, survived. As you will see, we were pretty clueless about things like money and life in general, but we got through it, with lots of help, and lots of mistakes along the way.
Mary and I got married relatively young; I had just turned 24 and Mary was 23.
We were both working full-time; I was at Prudential in their group insurance department (yes, feel free to yawn), and my wife was working as a receptionist/social worker/activities assistant at a nursing home (she was an early multi-tasker).
Eleven months after getting married, we had our first child.
Mary quit her job so that she could stay at home with our son, James, and about two weeks later, I quit my job to go back to school to get my PhD. As part of the PhD program, I was hired as a teaching assistant at a salary of $6,000 per year. (Fortunately, our rent was only $290 per month).
I am sure our parents thought we were crazy, but they were very supportive, in many ways.
I am sure we further confirmed their suspicions that we had no idea what we were doing when we decided to take a one-week vacation at the Jersey shore when our son was only two weeks old. But somehow the three of us survived the sun and ocean.
Another example of how clueless we were happened on a July 4th weekend. We thought it would be nice to pick up some sandwiches and go to a park for a picnic. Since we didn’t know the area we were living in at the time that well yet, we thought we would just drive around until we found a park that looked acceptable. It didn’t take us long to find a park that had a beautiful entrance, and we thought that the name of the park, the George Washington Memorial Park, seemed appropriate for the holiday.
As we began to drive through the park, we finally came to the realization that a Memorial Park is a fancy name for a cemetery. Needless to say, we quickly left and looked for another place to picnic. I can’t remember where we ended up, but there is a good chance we ended up back at our apartment.
I’ll share one more story that perhaps is more of a tribute to our immaturity than anything else.
I don’t why we had agreed to this, but one night we had a salesperson visit our apartment to try and sell burial plots to us. I think these people must read the birth announcements in the local paper, and figure that new parents are a good target demographic (and no, we do not have some strange obsession with cemeteries).
As we sat around our dining table and listened to this woman go on and on about the importance of early planning for a burial site, my wife and I kept telling her that we were both in good health and along with having no money, we didn’t think this was the right time for us to buy a burial plot. And then the woman went all in, bringing up the recent Tylenol poisoning scandal that had killed seven people, using the story to tell us that you never know when it will be your time. At this, my wife and I burst out laughing, and as much as we tried to control ourselves, could not get it under control. Within five minutes, the salesperson was gone, and I think she muttered something about our immaturity. Guilty as charged.
So as I said, it is somewhat of a miracle that we’ve made it to our sixties, given how naïve we were about so much.
But we certainly have had lots of fun along the way, have three wonderful boys, and have met lots of new friends over the years.
And somehow, we still don’t own a burial plot…