Let me be perfectly honest. I was never interested in marriage per se.

When I went to college, many people back in the ’60s thought females were just looking for their “Mrs.” degree. I was not. I wanted to be my own person. Marriage might hinder that. Of course, most of this was based on religious beliefs dating back to ancient times. In some faiths, women were to be subservient to their husbands. Ummmm ... no.

My thoughts were that I already had a daddy and I didn’t need a boss in marriage. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I dated quite a bit. I was even engaged a few times, but I deep down knew I’d never marry the particular young man of the engagement. They were all fine people, but none of them “rang my chimes,” so to speak. And this was important.

The funny thing is that all my friends thought I’d be the first to marry. In truth, I was the last. I was never going to settle.

No one in college met my qualifications. That sounds cold, but I was serious about what I wanted. One basketball player I went out with, only once, certainly was scratched off. Getting hit in the back of the head with a Sunday paper because I told him I had to study instead of taking a ride with him was no way to win my friendship.

Another guy I really cared about started telling me how to dress since he was running for student body president. He didn’t like my patterned hose and short skirts. Too bad. He wanted me to be more conservative. I dressed the way I wanted, not the way he wanted me to dress. Besides, he was going to be a minister and I knew I could never be a minister’s wife. And I also knew he wouldn’t be a good minister. He’s a lawyer in Washington, D.C., now. See? I was right.

When I graduated from college and took a teaching job in a small Northwest Georgia town, my plans were to teach a year and then move back to Southeast Tennessee. Life has a way of throwing obstacles in the way of plans.

The obstacle that got in my way was a man. Not a college boy, a man. And understand, I wasn’t looking for a relationship. I wasn’t lonely. I wasn’t panicking because I was almost 23 and not married ... almost spinster age. I was enjoying teaching, being free, and making plans to move back closer to “home.” Calhoun was not home to me then.

He called me three times before I agreed to go out with him. Later, he said the third call was to be his last. I was a little intrigued by him. He had a good reputation in town, came from a fine family, and was considered a “good catch,” which was not important to me.

I learned all this from my boss, Mrs. Mattie Lou Strain. She was so excited when she found out we had a date. She went on to tell me he had served his country in Vietnam and was finishing his college degree. He had four sisters and a brother, all fine people. His family had moved from Rome, Georgia, to Monticello, Utah, where his father set up his medical practice. There was a doctor shortage in the area and his father filled a big role. Unfortunately, his father died of a massive heart attack at 39.

After his father passed away, his mother moved the family back to Georgia. She remarried sometime later, to Georgia state representative Troy Causby and they had one child. I was a little breathless when she finished the history of the family.

For some reason, I pictured a knight in shining armor, but he didn’t gallop up on a white stallion. It was even better. He drove up in a 1968 white Corvette. When he came to the door, he told me he had a full tank of gas and $10; then he asked where I wanted to go.

I was blown away by his dark curls, black eyes, white even teeth, and killer smile.

He was charming and I felt something akin to giddiness as he spoke. I think my tongue was stuck to the roof of my mouth. I thought I heard chimes. We both laughed and the rest is history. We married three month later.

We will be married 51 years this coming Sunday. He has been my world for a long time, with a few earthquakes every so often. Not everything is perfect all the time. That could get boring and Bill Brooks has never been boring. I’m so glad I didn’t settle.

Happy 51st anniversary, Babe.

Coleen Brooks is a longtime resident of Gordon County who previously wrote for the Calhoun Times as a columnist. She retired as the director and lead instructor for the Georgia Northwestern Technical College Adult Education Department in 2013. She can be reached at coleenbrooks1947@gmail.com.

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