Tomorrow is Marcia’s 60th birthday. She doesn’t know writing this I am so if grammar mistakes I make or speling mistakes i mayk then my fault is it.
In a way April 1 is bittersweet for Marcia, whose mother passed away at the age of 61 on Marcia’s 25th birthday. Thirty-five years have passed. Wow!
That’s right, Marcia’s birthday is April 1. April Fool’s Day doesn’t mean anything here in the Philippines, so she misses out on those practical jokes, unless I do something today just to keep her on her toes. One of her high school friends was born on the same day, and our neighbor of 19 years in Lansing was exactly 24 years older, so Happy 84th, Peg.
I fell in love with Marcia the first day we spent time together. Actually we had met once before, when she and another girl came through my college dormitory selling candy or something. I was a freshman at St. John’s U. and she was a senior as St. Ben’s Prep in Minnesota. I just remember I was wearing only a bathrobe because I was heading to the showers, so it was semi-embarrassing when I answered the door. I had known a couple of her brothers – she has six – from St. John’s Prep, and also sort of knew her sister – she has four – who is one year older (my age) but I didn’t know Marcia. She says that she was already aware of me, though. Must have been my height and good looks. ;-)
The next time we met was at a picnic at a mutual friend’s house. We took a walk through the woods in their back yard and I was lovesick. Did she like me? What excuse could I make to meet her again?
Marcia was at St. Ben’s because her original girl’s Catholic boarding school, Villa Maria Academy, was closed permanently when its four story school building was struck by lightening and burned to the ground during a snow storm in March, 1969. And it was snow that got us together again after the picnic. The last day of my first year of college was May 18, 1971. I was supposed to drive home the next morning. However, about a foot of very heavy snow fell, making it impossible to travel north, so I decided to try to slog over to St. Ben’s and maybe run into some girls that might also be stranded. As it turns out I met Marcia who was waiting for her brother to pick her up. By the time David arrived at least two hours had passed and I had an invitation to Marcia’s commencement ceremony.
When I arrived at graduation I found out that Marcia was the valedictorian. This was in a class where at least half the girls would have been at the top of any other class in any other school in the state. This was one smart bunch of girls. One sits on the Minnesota Supreme Court. Now I’m no dummy, but this kid was out of my league. Then I drove to her house (I can’t remember how I finagled that one) only to find out that the Blaylocks had a house the size of a small hotel, complete with tennis court and horses. I was from a much different social strata. So I figured it was fun while it lasted, which wouldn’t be very much longer.
Needless to say, Marcia must have seen something in me because we dated off and on for the next year, then got engaged and were married on February 24, 1973 at the ages of 20 and 19. Odds were not in our favor. Marcia immediately got pregnant with our daughter Jean, and we decided that I would join the Air Force to get medical insurance. So off we went to Texas, and then back to Minnesota. The war in Vietnam ended and I got an early discharge, so I was able to finish college in 1976. Shortly thereafter our first son, Nick, was born.
Despite Marcia’s brains, we had committed to her being home to raise the kids, so I went from computer job to computer job for the next several years, eventually moving to Lansing, Michigan in 1981. We arrived on our 8th anniversary, and it was already our 7th cross-state move. However, we settled in Lansing, and after a few years with Burroughs I worked the next 13 years for EDS at General Motors. We had two more sons, Tony and Al, in the 80’s. In 2000 I went to work for the State of Michigan in their computer department.
When Al was in the last years of grade school Marcia went back to college and received a two year degree as a physical therapist assistant. She was one of two out of 30 or so students who finished on top in the program. Marcia was the oldest and the other the youngest, just out of high school. She worked for a private Lansing company mostly at the Eaton Rapids Hospital for the next ten years. It was obvious at her retirement party that she was well respected and loved by co-workers and patients alike. And she truly loved her job. I believe that at even at 60 Marcia could go back to medical school and graduate with honors, that’s how smart she is.
But as most of you know, fate led us in another direction. In 2007 we were offered the opportunity to live on Corregidor Island where my father had fought in WW II. It didn’t take us long to make the decision, but it did take a year and a half to make it happen. In the meantime Marcia’s father passed away, and at his age (almost 91) and health (failing kidneys and three times a week dialysis treatments) it was a blessing.
I often wonder how many other women I could have married that 1) would have put up with me so long, and 2) would be happy to live on a remote island 8000 miles from home and family? Although we live comfortably by Filipino standards, we were living in a 3000 square foot home with 12 acres and an in-ground swimming pool, with modern conveniences like a microwave and a 52-inch television. We had two good-paying jobs with excellent insurance coverage. We didn’t have the ants and scorpions and lizards and snakes that we do here. Yet she was willing to leave all the comfort and security to help me honor my father and the thousands of other men and women who served and in many cases died here.
I absolutely adore Marcia. I would die for her and I would die without her. Do I always act that way? Of course not, I’m human. But I am constantly reminded of what an exceptional person she is, and how blessed I am to have her as my wife and companion for these past 40 years. She has made me a much better man. She’s smart, she’s beautiful, and she loves me.
Steve on the Rock
PS For those of you who have been receiving this newsletter from the beginning, it may seem familiar, I sent this out four years ago on Marcia’s 56th birthday as well. It’s still true,