Today's 19 post for the October Memoir and Backstory Blog Challenge is written by Kathy Cannon Wiechman
When I was nineteen, boys my age were drafted into the army. They swore an oath to be willing to give their lives for their country.
We were all adults, right?
Two days after my nineteenth birthday, my boyfriend gave me an engagement ring. My parents were flabbergasted. They begged and pleaded with me to rethink this decision. What about your education? What about a career? (Career? I had a job, and that would get me through until I made it as a writer.) What if, gasp! you get pregnant?
I assured them I would not get pregnant. After all, the experts said diabetics had difficulty getting pregnant. Those experts also said diabetes would shorten my life. I wanted to marry Jim, and if I wasn’t going to have a long life, I was in a hurry to begin my life with him.
Jim and I had known each other since I was 13. We’d been good friends for years before we started dating. I had graduated high school at 17. I was smart. I knew what I wanted.
Two months after he gave me that ring, I became Jim’s wife. He was in the US Navy at the time, so he went back to base a week after our short honeymoon. My life hadn’t changed all that much, except I lived in a cute, little apartment instead of sharing a room with my sister in my parents’ home. I went to work during the day, and school in the evening.
|Kathy Cannon becomes a Wiechman|
Three weeks later, I flew to Great lakes, IL, for Jim’s graduation from boot camp. We were together the whole weekend, and I missed him terribly when I had to go home.
Unknowingly, I took a little extra something back home with me. I was pregnant. That’s right. Those experts who said it would be difficult weren’t so smart after all. Or was I the one who wasn’t so smart?
Jim and I decided I should quit my job after the semester and move to the Boston area where he was stationed. We lived in government housing, a small apartment where hot running water was fickle. My pre-natal appointments were at Chelsea Naval Hospital, and I was warned that a diabetic pregnancy would not be easy.
They were right. It was tough, but we got through it, and three weeks before my twentieth birthday, I gave birth to our premature first daughter. Today, Kelly is a wife and mother herself, and no, she didn’t get married at 19.
|Kathy and Jim's first-born, Kelly.|
Looking back at our wedding picture, I realize how very young we were (and Jim looks even younger in the picture than he really was. I swear I didn’t marry a 12-year-old.)
We were in no way ready for marriage and family. But we were both stubborn—and committed. We struggled through some rough times, but we’ve had wonderfully happy times, too. Yes, we’re still together, still friends, and our marriage is stronger than ever. Forgive me if this sounds sappy, but I love him more every day.
I still haven’t “made it” as a writer. Luckily I didn’t have to depend on it for a living. I worked at numerous jobs off and on while our family grew (including teaching, which made my mother happy), and Jim has been a good provider. We both grew up in frugal families, and that lifestyle worked for us, too.
The year I was nineteen was the ultimate life-changer, but I have never regretted being young and foolish.