A Love Story

Editor’s note: I wrote this five years ago but updated it a bit this a.m. (in 2015)

Twenty-three years ago next week, Karen and I got married. In Knoxville, Tenn.

I’ve written about this before, sort of, here. That post details how we found a good restaurant for after the vows. (We got married in a small chapel in a part of Knoxville called Old City. It was just us, the preacher and a couple of witnesses at the ceremony.

But I haven’t written about why we chose Knoxville or that particular day to get married (or at least I don’t think I have – I’ve written somewhere in the neighborhood of 140 posts, and I don’t remember them all. I went back through a few of them today to see if I’d written this one before and I couldn’t find any evidence.

So here goes …

I’d asked Karen to marry me some months before. OK, I’d asked her in February. OK, it was a Saturday night. Actually it was Sunday morning, just a few minutes after midnight. OK, it was Valentine’s Day. Call me a sentimentalist. I’ll plead guilty.

She said yes, but we didn’t set a date or anything (we’d been living together for several months). And we didn’t tell anybody.

Time marches on, and we moved to Gastonia a little later, where I worked at the newspaper and she worked at the hospital. Sometime later that year, I’m thinking it was in September, Karen’s car broke down one Sunday afternoon on our way back to the Hellmouth of Weird from Charlotte. A very nice guy with a couple of teeth who enjoyed the dirt-track races in Clover, S.C., stopped to help us and gave us a ride back to G-town. We found out the car was basically not going to be repairable, so we went to a local dealer to buy a used one. No problem, we found one that served us well for a long time.

But when we went to insure it, Karen’s insurance company – which was cheaper and better than mine – told us we had to be married by the end of November (we were buying the car together). No problem, we thought, we’re planning to get married anyway.

Of course, as it often does, life gets in the way.

I can’t remember exactly how long after that it was, but Karen’s mom came from Pennsylvania to spend her week at the condo she owned in Gatlinburg. We were planning to go spend the weekend with her there with Mimi and her friend, Lovey. While there, we decided to go to Dollywood. Now, Karen’s mom had had a heart attack some time earlier, but she on the whole was doing well. We thought.

Because after a long but thoroughly enjoyable day at Dollywood, we went out to eat in Pigeon Forge. And sure enough, Mimi started feeling poorly. By the time we left, I had to call 9-1-1 for the first time in my life and get an ambulance. They took her to a small medical clinic there and immediately shipped her to Knoxville, the site of the nearest large hospital, where she was to have bypass surgery the next day.

So we set up camp in Knoxville for a week or so, and a few weekends after that, while she recuperated. Strange as it may sound, we grew to really like the city and we soon decided that’s where we’d get married.

Because, remember, the insurance company clock was ticking.

They finally let her out, and we drove her back to G-town to stay with us awhile as she continued to recuperate.

But it wasn’t to be that simple. Something strange, it turns out, often happens with heart-bypass patients. They can develop a chemical imbalance and get severely depressed, and that’s what happened to Mimi. She just completely shut down and became unresponsive. So on another Sunday morning, I called 9-1-1 again.

She wound up spending some time in the hospital where Karen worked. But once the medicine kicked in, she was fine, almost immediately. But it’s mid-November now and the clock is really ticking down. Because we really couldn’t leave town while she was there, and we didn’t want to get married in G-town (way too much potential for bad karma). But then Karen’s sister came down and flew back with Mimi to Pennsylvania.

Which left us about a week or so to get married. Luckily, it was Thanksgiving week, which meant we had some time off. So we went to Knoxville to get the license and then back for the wedding that Saturday. We stayed in a great BandB, had a wonderful ceremony, a great meal and have had a great life.

Of course, I guess that was pretty much – wait for it – insured.

Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies. – Aristotle


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