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TITLE: Getting To Know One Another
By Jim Oates

This is an excerpt from Wilma My Friend My Wife.
I would like to know if this piece would be of interest to anyone outside the family.
Thank you.
Getting To Know One Another

What a surprise it was when I received a postcard from Huntsville Ontario; it was from her. Imagine, we had only spoken briefly that Sunday after church. I must have made some sort of impression, she had thought enough to send me a card. Wow! I was floating on clouds until she came home.

Wilma told me the usual vacation stuff and when they would be arriving home. The heart stopper was when I read, “I’ll see you when we return.” I had lost count of how many times I read that card. I purposely waited a couple days after they got back before calling her, I didn’t want to appear too anxious to see her. I asked her if she would like to go to see a movie. She said that she would like that. As I was working steady on the night shift at GM and she was working days at Metropolitan Hospital, our first date would have to be on Saturday evening.

I soon discovered there was something different about this girl. She had a quiet innocence about her that I had never seen in any girl before. She also had a meekness about her that showed an inner beauty that matched her outward appearance.

I mentioned earlier, in A Bit about Myself, of living in Tecumseh. Most of the people I knew were from a different lifestyle; there was coarse talk and a lot of drinking. Even the girls had a hard way about them. I didn’t realize there was a different world just twenty miles away. I didn’t dare take her to a restaurant in Tecumseh for fear of embarrassing her.

Thinking back, I wasn’t sure just what to expect but that first date was everything I hoped it would be. I tried to do everything properly, I wanted to treat her like a lady but this was something new to me. I didn’t want to appear brash or come on too strong. I wanted to make a good impression. I bought a large bag of popcorn which we shared and a pop for each of us.

I desperately wanted to hold her hand but fear wouldn’t allow it. In an awkward moment our hands touched as she reached for the popcorn. This brought on an embarrassed laugh which broke the ice for both of us. After a couple more accidental bumpings in the popcorn bag she didn’t pull away. I think I missed most of the movie because of this, and planning my strategy while sneaking sideward glances at her. She must have had a good time that evening because she said she would go out with me again.

We saw The King and I. I know it was The King and I, because one day while I was helping with the dishes several years later, out of the blue, Wilma looked me straight in the eye and asked, “Do you remember what we did on our first date?” I drew a blank. All I knew was that it must have been fun; we were together. She knew by the look on my face that I didn’t have a clue. We both had a laugh, and then she reminded me, “We went to see The King and I.” Now, I don’t think I will ever forget what we did that night. I do know, I didn’t kiss her on that date; that was to come, some time later.

Wilma and I went to the beach at Point Pelee quite often. She couldn’t swim but we played, splashed, and soaked up the sun. Because of her hearing problem she didn’t like to get her ears wet and would wear one of those funny looking rubber bathing hats. Actually she looked cute in it.

I remember the ads in all the guy magazines for Charles Atlas the muscle builder; in the ads the muscle guy always had the girl and would kick sand in the face of the wimpy guy who did not have a girl of his own. I always felt proud as we walked across the beach, hand in hand. I don’t know if she noticed or not but almost all the single guys seemed to be looking at us. She was mine, all mine. By the way, I didn’t have to kick sand in anyone’s face.

I enjoyed many meals at the Ciphery’s. Her Mom was a good cook, and I think she liked me; I seemed to have had the approval of the family. Wilma’s oldest brother Carmen had not met me yet, as he had moved to Alberta in 1950. We met a few years later and had an immediate kinship.

I did a lot of extra driving that year; eighty miles a day. I would drive the twenty miles to our farm; work for the afternoon then race back home for supper and clean up. I then would drive back to see her for a couple hours and then drive the twenty miles back to Tecumseh, just in time to head to work in Windsor for nine o’clock. If anyone had been watching me, they probably thought I was out of my mind.

It was hard to get too personal, with her family around. Sometimes we played Chinese checkers or we would go for drives. When time permitted and I didn’t have to race off to work, we often went to the Detroit River to watch the boats sail by and do a little snuggling.

My Mom and Dad immediately fell in love with her, as did almost everyone else who met her; she was just that kind of a person.

I soon realized that this honest, hard working farm family had something going for them that had been missing in my life; I never heard a curse word and there was no drinking. They were people of integrity; could it have something to do with their Christian beliefs? I began attending church regularly with Wilma, and have continued to do so to this day.

One day in the spring of 1956 while parked on the Mole Side Road, where the Gestwood camp now exists, I asked her to marry me. Of course, she said yes. We went shopping for rings and being the frugal person that she was; we passed over the more expensive and settled on a more modest set.

One evening while we were out driving around we stopped for ice cream at the Dairy Freeze in North Ridge. On our way back to her place, I was pulled over by the police as we were approaching Essex on No.3 Highway. I know I was not speeding because we were in no hurry to get home. Maybe the officer thought we were drinking or casing the homes in the area to break in. I was ordered to get out of the car. The officer shone his light around in the car, finding no beer bottles, the light finally settled on Wilma’s sparkling ring. He turned to me and told me to get back in the car, then said, “If you two want a little loving, get off the highway and go down a back road.” We often had a laugh about that incident.

The date for the wedding was set for August 18, 1956, the first day of my vacation from GM. I don’t remember much about the ceremony; I think I was numb with brain freeze. I do know she was very beautiful, and I know it was a very hot summer day and there was a heavy down pour of rain. Leaving the church with my brother Dan, my best man and June Goodwin, Wilma’s cousin, her maid of honour, we went to Colchester where we had our pictures taken.

On returning to the Ciphery farm, we had a chicken dinner equal to any Christmas feast with all the trimmings which Wilma’s cousins happily served to us. Later, early in the evening, we left in my 1948 Ford with cans tied to the bumper clattering as we drove down the road. We headed for Niagara Falls. Not wanting to drive into the night we stopped at a motel near Wardsville, about an hour’s drive passed Chatham, long before reaching our destination.

It was there, we consummated our union as God had intended. Genesis 2:25, says, “The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.”

Although fifty years have come and gone, the memory of our first night together is etched in my mind. I shall never forget the sight of sparkling beads of water cascading over her sheer loveliness as we showered together for the first time. I can only imagine how Adam must have felt as he gazed upon his lovely bride for the very first time.

This was the beginning of forty-five fleeting years of really getting to know one another. With the Lord’s help and guidance we were able to survive as we traveled the road of life together with its many twists and turns, hills and valleys. Over the years, our love had deepened and the bonds of love had grown stronger and drawn us closer together as we worked, played and raised our family.
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