My Eternal Partner, Raymond

I had met Marilyn Degeneff at Parents Without Partners in Riverside and she invited me to her house one Sunday for dinner.  Unbeknown to me, she had also invited this man that she had met at Weight Watchers and they had gotten to be friends.  They both were lecturers for the organization.  I arrived at her house in Redlands at the set time and about a half an hour later this man shows up and is introduced as Ray Roberts who, surprisingly, also lived in Hemet. I thought he looked a little familiar and come to find out he was my mail man while living in my folk's home on State St and I didn't pay much attention to him.  Post Office shorts, knee length socks, black rim glasses and a buzz hair cut topped off with a round baby face.

 She had made the living room so that he would have to sit next to me on her love seat, (no less) as she had put newspapers, etc. on the other furniture.

I didn't stay very long at Marilyn's, in fact, I left before we ate.  When I first saw Raymond I got this funny feeling in the pit of my stomach and I didn't want to deal with it so I made up the excuse that I needed to go home because my youngest daughter  was sick and I didn't want to leave her all afternoon. He had the most gorgeous eyes and eye lashes and beautiful (if you can call a man's hands beautiful) hands and I couldn't keep my eyes off him!  hehee..............Well, anyway before they would let me leave, I had to promise them that I would go out to dinner with them the following Friday.  She also said that I could come with Raymond to save me the drive by myself.

  Up to that point in time, I hadn't dated, or anything for over two years, as I was sick and tired of what they expected and what they wanted to demanded of me. I wasn't about to marry anyone that I didn't love just to get a meal ticket and I wasn't about to marry anyone to give them a meal ticket. I also wanted to be truly and honestly in love as much as I knew what the word meant, as I never had had it in my life. 

It was good for me to have lived alone all of that time, as I found out what I really wanted in life and what I was willing to give to get it. Granted it was terribly hard, as I missed so much of the kids life plus having to basically support them by myself. I had made up my mind that who ever I married had to support me at least the way that I was supporting myself.  I just didn't want to work anymore unless I wanted to, not have to.

All this time I had thought that she was just trying to find a way to be with Raymond as many times, during the past, I had gone with Marilyn to dances, dinners, etc.  The guys would start a conversation with me in order to get to Marilyn without being too forward and I just thought this was a reversal of that situation.  Little did I know!  He came by to pick me up that Friday night and we all met in a restaurant in San Bernardino.  I was asked what I would like to drink and I told them that I didn't drink (Marilyn already knew that) so she had her usual and Raymond had a small glass of wine. I also told him that I didn't smoke either but neither did they so that worked out great. 

We had dinner and Raymond sat next to Marilyn which further led me to believe she had an eye for him.  He asked me to dance, but I told him no, that he needed to dance with her thinking that is what needed to happen.  In a very short while, Marilyn said she had to go home, so she left abruptly.  There we were, so I had to dance with him. <smile> Needless to say, we closed the joint down and then we went out for something to eat before going home.  

We sat in his car in my driveway and talked and talked almost until morning.  Most of the conversation was about how come I didn't drink and smoke and so I started to tell him my reasons why and a few other of my no-no's!  hehee  I finally had to go in as he had to go to work in a couple of hours.  Before he left, I asked him if he wanted to go to a Special Interest dance for the single people in my church the following Friday in San Bernardino and he said okay.  The next day, Saturday, Raymond said he was going down to Fallbrook to see his cousin, and wouldn't be home until sometime on Sunday.  I got a kiss before I went into the house.

The weather was horrid with lots of rain and wind so I called him Sunday night to see if he got home okay. Later on I found out that he was very touched at my concern which I guess made me some brownie points.

The following Friday, we went to the Special Interest dance and went out with a some of the crowd to eat before coming home.  I asked him if he wanted to go to a Fireside that next Sunday and he said yes, not even knowing what a Fireside was.  Little did he know it wasn't a group of us sitting around a fireplace!

Going to the Fireside brought up many questions on our vernacular of "what in the world is free agency"; " how come you call it a Fireside when there isn't a fireplace"; "how come you call some of your meeting houses Stake Centers when he thought they were steak centers" hahahaha, so needless to say, we spent a lot of our time just talking about my religious beliefs. He found out about me up to the Prophet on how the church worked.

Our relationship was built just opposite than most peoples as ours started out on a spiritual level, then the mental, then the physical when generally it starts with a physical attraction.  We were inseparable from that night on.  I don't know how in the world he and I both went to work with only a couple of hours of sleep!  We would sit up in the living room talking and talking about the gospel, about kids, and about what we both wanted out of life.

The following night after that fireside, Monday, we talked about having the need to pray about what was happening between us.  I already had had thoughts of he and I being together for the rest of my life but we didn't even talk about that. I wasn't about to tell him how I was feeling so I just played it cool.   We had talked about going to the Special Interest Conference in Las Vegas that coming Saturday night and coming home on Monday after the conference was over and thought that might be a good way for him to know more about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Also for him to get to know my friends that I had been associating with since I had joined the church.

Raymond had been a Methodist all of his life and had even attended a Methodist school to become a minister for the church but it didn't work out for him so he was a wonderful Christian man to start off with anyway.  My standards didn't pose a problem for him at all which was wonderful as I didn't have to worry about our relationship that way.

When Raymond came over on Tuesday night and when I saw him at the door when he came in, I had this overwhelming feeling of peace and contentment. My prayers had been answered but I still hadn't even let on how I was feeling. If anything was to come of this relationship, he had to make the first move as I sure wasn't, as I didn't want to get hurt again.

We spent all of our waking time together and we decided that if we were really going to go to the conference on Saturday, we needed to make some plans.  So on Thursday night, we sat down and started to figure a schedule out as he had to work on Saturday.  It was to be Valentine's weekend along with president's weekend for the holiday, so we knew that finding accommodations would be difficult as all of the singles stayed in private homes and by that time, everyone had arrangements made.

We were talking about the trip and he said jokingly, that we would go to Vegas and I would probably marry him.  I didn't know if he was kidding or serious and needless to say, I was speechless. So then he formally asked me to marry him and I said yes.  We called some of our friends the next day, but by then most of them had taken off already so we ended up by calling them in Vegas.  They set up a Bishop of the church to marry us in the Relief Society room at the chapel that the Saturday night dance was being held.

They also had made connections with a church member who worked at the county offices so that if the line for wedding licenses was long, we were to ask for her to get right in.  That Saturday was February 14th, Valentines Day.  I was so nervous that I drove until we got to the point where you can see the lights of Vegas over the hill on I-15 figuring that if I didn't drive, I might chicken out.  We found the court house, but there wasn't a line so we finally ended up at the chapel between 11 and 11:30 but the Bishop hadn't arrived yet.  Finally just about 5 minutes before midnight he comes running down the hallway....we hugged each other as we both felt we were old friends but we were only just meeting for the first time.

We had over 115 of my dear Special Interest friends there to be with us for our wedding.  Nancy Loomis, a dear friend of mine from Hemet and Nolan Packham, also from Hemet, were our attendants with Russ Hardman, our witness. The group had gotten me a corsage and Raymond a boutonniere and we had hurriedly had purchased a set of thin gold bands.  We married!

Our marriage in Las Vegas, Feb. 14, 1976.  Left to right:  Russ  
Nancy, Patty, Raymond, Nolan  and the Bishop. Notice the
buzz hair cut and black rim glasses!  And you can't say that that isn't
a baby face!  hehee

Now, we don't know if you have been keeping track of the time table on this story, but if you add it all up, you will get nineteen days.  Yup, nineteen days. But at our age and the feelings that we each had of confirmation of our decisions, time wasn't an issue.  We just had our 25th wedding anniversary while this was being written.

Raymond said that one of his biggest concerns was trying to be a father to my four kids.  He was a widower with no kids and I was a divorcee with four. The two oldest ones were mainly gone from the home so all that was there was the two youngest.. I need to put in here that later on we all got a big laugh out of that as the two others came home more and we ended up during those first five years of married life being foster parents to eight others.

We decided to stay in my home and so we sold his and also what furniture we didn't want to keep between us.  We had a giant sale inside his home and when he came home for lunch that day, I asked him if he wanted to sell his place and for how much.  By the time he came home from work, everything, including the house had been sold. 

Raymond joined the church the day of our wedding reception which wasn't until March 20th and our honeymoon wasn't until June when we went back for me to meet his folks in Illinois and him mine, in New Hampshire; Quick courtship, longggggggggg wedding celebration.  <smile> We had our Temple wedding a year later.

Our reception.  Can you tell that I like PINK!  Didn't Kathy
Brown do a wonderful job making our cake!

Things that I remember about our life. Lots of luaus for the Special Interest Singles group in our back yard;  helping with the formation of the Big Bear Special Interest Conference and wearing a bear suit and handing out bear claw pastries; 

Guess who is in the bear suit?

 ......finally not having to work unless I wanted to; started doing wedding receptions in the way of decorating and catering; 

One of my table set ups.  I still have my cloths, skirting, 
tables, ribbons and greenery. son having appendicitis while on the roof putting up my citizens band antennae and having surgery in the middle of the night; spending nights during my time to monitor the REACT emergency channel being half asleep in fear I would miss an emergency; lots of backyard barbeques for the missionaries; Raymond becoming Santa Claus with me joining him later as Mrs. Santa; one daughters wedding in the back yard  and another's wedding at sunrise up in the Sage Valley area and the experiences of being foster parents.

Discovering Genealogy & Cemeteries

During that time I also got involved with genealogy which has ended up by being my love and passion.  The director of the Family History Center in Hemet, had asked me to give a class on Cemetery Research for the Genealogy seminar less than 6 weeks away.  After I quit laughing at the ridiculousness of even the suggestion, as to that point all I knew about cemeteries was that people were dying to get in them, I said sure.

Can you believe that very day of saying I would do it, I received a copy of my Yankee Magazine and the feature story was on the Association of Gravestone Studies back in the Boston area.  I am not a letter writing person, so I picked up the phone and called Rosalee Oakley who was the director of AGS and gave her my story about the seminar.  That lovely lady, ended up by sending me a huge packet of booklets, pamphlets, printed sheets full of information about cemetery research.  Before we hung up the telephone she has suggested that I call OldStone Enterprises in Boston as they carried the supplies for the stone rubbing.    I called them and told them my story and about Rosalee and they ended up by sending me a tube of paper, brush, wax and literature free for me and I purchased one to use for the seminar.  

Again, before our conversation ended, he suggested that I call Daniel Farber who was a world known photographer of cemetery stones.  Again, the phone, and I couldn't believe what this man offered to do for me too! He sent me a huge box of his original mounted photographs for display, for no charge except the postage in mailing them back to him. None of them knew me at all but were so loving and willing to help me.  What a wonderful gift!

My seminar talk went off beautifully and I sounded like an expert with all of the information that I was given!  I had even set up one of my wedding tents for a cover in a section of the patio area where the seminar was being held.  I had borrowed gravestones from the local monument place, and made some, and put plants and flags around to where it all looked so real.  I had all ages down on the knees rubbing the stones!  I called it  "Seminar Cemetery - Stones and Bones Acres. "From there I was asked to give my talk to different organizations all around the area and I finally did get to the point where I knew, really knew, my subject.  What a fun time that was.  I missed being a part of that after moving up to Utah where we live now. 
                                (see my talk in my index pages) 






             Rubbing stones sure make people "humble"!                         

The next year the genealogy director asked me to put together another talk on "Collecting and Preserving Family Memorabilia" and I didn't have to worry about knowing that one as I had been doing that for many years on my own.  So for a few years while they had the seminars I did both talks.  I had so much fun with them and I always have the folks attending laughing and having a good time while they learn.  I will include that talk also, but it looses something without my actual presentation of my memorabilia. The information was just posted so take a look at it by going back to the front page.  <smile>

Move to OUR Home

We stayed in my home from 1976 until 1983 then we moved into an 1800 sq. foot modular one.  We had remodeled mine but yet we both wanted something that was ours together, hence the move. 

Here is our modular home. It was set in a cement box at ground level. 
All of the roof tops that  you see were ours!
The stack of wood on the left WAS a beautiful, huge walnut tree. 
The neighbor had taken down the half of it that hung on her side of the
fence so our side had to come down before it fell down.

The local newspaper put our home on their 
home page one time and this is the story:

Bathroom with double marble sinks and                 Master bedroom.  Raymond always said
        sunken garden tub.                                          it felt like being in a fancy hotel as
                                                                                   it was so big.


My dining room with my really neat china                        A woman's dream for a kitchen; complete
cabinet.  Raymond's mom embroidered the                      with pull-out shelves and everything was
table cloth and matching napkins.                                           so easy to keep clean.

Our huge family room that was 24' X 20'. What is
showing isn't even half of it.

 We were able to move in literally one trip with all of the neat people who helped us; having a Chinese dinner for all of them and having them sit on the floor on pillows and no silverware to eat with only chopsticks; (recipes are in my cookbook); having the deaf Elders of the Church stay in our home for two weeks while one recuperated from leg surgery; going to the Deaf Branch in Riverside for year to get to know them and learn their language and culture;  and our son's wedding reception in our home; being a rural mail carrier for the Post Office;

Below is my "blue bird" postal jeep.  It had mag wheels, completely carpeted, surround sound stereo, especially made oak credenza that had a storage cupboard where I kept my cleaning supplies and some emergency food storage;  stamp drawer and place for my first aid kit.  The paint job was a metallic blue and it had yellow curtain valances on the windows!  I even put in new weather stripping myself and my fan had blue blades! My oldest daughter painted my yellow singing birds on the doors.....the left one had a bird screeching to a halt and the one on the right was singing.  I even went so far as to have a blue leather steering wheel cover! It was sooooooo much fun to drive. It was even in a parade.                                            


                                                                                                                           Also having a deaf Elder be put in our care while he was having some problems and us learning to love and understand each other; teaching sign language in our church; many, many homemaking classes where I taught Emergency Preparedness skills and classes on microwave cooking to making an oven out of a cardboard box  and baking bread in it.

Decision Time Again

The kids were all gone, and life went on with some changes that we didn't really care for.  The area was building up so fast and people were leaving the city to get away from the drug and gang problems.  The only thing was, a lot of them brought that awful stuff with them when they came.  We ended up with drive-by shootings, graffiti all over the place, smog so bad most of the time you couldn't see the "S" on the side of the mountain, traffic was unbearable and it was getting hotter and muggier with so many people planting homes instead of trees.  They took out lawns and replaced them with rock and then painted it green to look like lawn.  A handshake or your word wasn't good enough anymore for any kind of dealings and you had to be sure to carry I.D. with you so that you could prove who you were if you needed to cash a check.  There were only about 3,000 people when my family moved to Hemet and when we left there was over 100,0oo in the valley!! 

To others who have chosen the area to be their home, didn't have the old past to compare with and to them it is a great place.  It really is, but not for us.  We do miss our friends that we have had for years and the different activities we were involved with, like the Ramona Pageant , but we don't miss the modernistic feel of everything now.  I guess you can say that we wanted to turn the clock back to the "good old days".... enjoy four seasons during the year and live a slower pace of life.

So, Raymond and I decided that it was time to figure out where we wanted to be for the rest of life and to be settled in an area when it came time for him to retire.  We had thought about back East where I would dearly love to be, but the cost of living was too much for us.  Then we thought about Raymond's home area, Illinois, but it was too flat and too windy.  Raymond had gotten to love the mountains and so had I.  We both agreed that we wanted an area that had the four seasons as we did like the changes.  Being sun people as we were, going up to the Northern part of the country just didn't do it as neither one of us really wanted to live with a whole bunch of rain, or extreme cold.  The Southern part wasn't for us either as we didn't really care for HOT.  Talk about being picky! I guess we both were. But we were talking about the rest of our lives.

A few years back we had gone up to Nephi, Utah, for a wedding reception of one of our deaf elders as I had promised him we would decorate his reception for him when he got married and he took us up on it!  While there we took a drive up to the Provo area and fell in love with that part of the country.  We loved the trees, the green, the "little bit of everything" kind of seasons and the much slower pace of life than what we were used to but longed for and the standard of living financially that was there.

We did a lot of praying on our decision and felt good about it so Raymond started to put out applications for transfer of employment.  He had worked for the post office since 1961 and was hoping someone would take him. He had worked at just about everything you could do, from walking 16 miles a day as a carrier; being in charge of all of the postal vehicles as a VOMA,, to even filling the soda pop machine; on the counter as a clerk, and a 204B which was a supervisor name it, he had done it! He was even acting postmaster for a couple of days as he had the seniority in the office as the number 2 person in longevity.

We put the house up for sale, again on our own, as we were getting pretty good at selling homes it seems! After a while, Raymond received a reply from Salt Lake City, Utah post office, offering a position (at the bottom of the ladder of course as a part-time flex) but it was a beginning. The day that our house sold, is the day that he received notice from SLC that they decided not to hire him as he had previously had carpel tunnel surgery done on both wrists.