On the 20th of September, Hazel and myself will celebrate our 48th wedding anniversary.
It's truly amazing to both of us that it's been that long since that Sunday morning when two nervous young people accompanied by a few friends went to a Justice of the Peace's office in downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma and tied the knot.
And what a strong, endurable knot it has been, staying firmly tied through ups and downs, good times and bad times when the man of the house was away from home
for extended amounts of time with nothing but an expensive phone call to bridge the long miles between us.
We have literally wept from just longing to be together but understood that I was on a mission and if the goal was to be reached the time apart couldn't be helped because we had a baby boy and he had to have a stable home environment and we all believed that what I was doing would result in a better life.
I have made many sacrifices on the road to building my career, but the sacrifices I have made pale in comparison to the ones Hazel has made. She was just a kid, raising a baby whose father was away more than at home, living far from the only home she ever knew and trying to pay too many bills with too little money.
She didn't have a telephone and even the limited calls we could afford had to be made from a neighbor's house or a pay phone.
Much of that time she didn't even have a car to drive and the only bed we owned was a baby bed. She slept on a mattress on the floor and walked to a Laundromat to wash diapers and carried groceries home pushing a baby carriage.
She has withstood loneliness, bill collectors, repossessed cars, worn out second hand appliances and cars that broke down constantly.
In 1967 I got a call from my friend Bob Johnston who had just taken over the Nashville office of Columbia records inviting me to come and throw my hat in the ring in the Music City. I knew Nashville was a tough city and I would just be another young man with a guitar trying to prove that I had something unique to say with my music in a place where songwriters and guitar players are a dime a dozen and only the cream and those with bull dog tenacity would rise to the top.
When I put it to Hazel she never hesitated, "let's go"' so we took off to Nashville with everything we owned in a small U Haul trailer and moved into a house that had a busted water pipe and had been trashed by vandals.
I rode a bus to downtown Nashville taking anything of value we had left and pawned it to get us through those first few days.
Hazel made a home out of whatever we had, at wherever we happened to be and stood by my side, never flinching, and the word quit is not even in her vocabulary. There is no way on earth I could have staid the course and run the long, and many times discouraging race without knowing she was always there, always waiting at home to soothe the many wounds inflicted on me along the path I chose to follow.
I would lay down my life for her and go to any lengths to make her happy.
So Happy 48th Anniversary my lover, my best friend, love of my life, my darling Hazel.
All I have or ever will have is yours. Heart included.
You are God's very special blessing to my life.
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