March 1, here at last — again.
For many years the first week of March has been an especially significant time for me.
Growing up a Niangua River fisherman in Dallas County, I was long aware of the March 1 opening date for trout season at Bennett Spring. Six months after starting at the Buffalo Reflex in late 1979 that annual event became synonymous with the start of spring as it found me trolling the banks of the Bennett Spring branch with my notepad and 35 mm camera. For more than two decades I missed few opening days, no matter the weather, documenting the thousands of anglers descending on that mile of trout-stocked stream.
However, long before I owned a 35 mm camera or had even heard of the Buffalo Reflex, another date — March 6 — became far more important than pictures of stringers of trout.
That was the date in 1971 that I and DeAnn Galbavy, an 18-year-old Baptist Bible College student from South Dakota, became man and wife at Lakeview Baptist Church near Springfield. For 23 years afterward I never failed to celebrate March 6, and though Dee was called home 29 years ago I’ll never forget my South Dakota bride and the mother of our two daughters.
The first week of March never fails to take me back to that cold Saturday night and how uncomplicated seemed the times in which we wed. Though it seemed we had a large wedding, it was simple by today’s standards. We planned and paid for it all ourselves, spending hundreds, rather than thousands, of dollars and left no debt behind us as we walked down the aisle.
As fearless as ever a bride and groom could be, we stepped into an uncertain future, with her family still in South Dakota and mine soon to be left behind in Missouri as I entered the U.S. Air Force. We had not a clue where life would take us, but whatever we might face, we knew we could face it together.
These many years later I marvel at our naiveté and wish I could experience such innocence again. But, no one goes through life without scars.
We could not have imagined that March evening the perils that would befall us 20 years later — the loss of a daughter and Dee’s cancer. If I must remember our journey, I prefer to dwell on that March we embarked, rather than the September we parted.
In his infinite wisdom, God granted me a new helpmate little more than a year after I lost Dee, as well as three stepchildren. Not only was Martha a bride for me, but a loving stepmom for my grown daughter, Melissa, and became an incomparable grandmother to all our grandchildren, now numbering 11.
What more can I say?
God is good, the same now as on that snowy night in March 1971, as I have been reminded every day since.
Copyright 2023, James E. Hamilton; email firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more of his works in Ozarks RFD 2010-2015, available online from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or from the author.
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