The year was 1972. The venue, A&W drive-in on Sprague and Pines in Spokane Valley.
Two sisters at Central Valley High School were working as car hops to earn money by selling root beer floats and Coney dogs.
One of their customers was a tall, strapping hot-rodder and recent Central Valley grad who had his eye on the older sister, a long-haired, green-eyed, brunette. But alas, she was spoken for. And since he’d developed an addiction to root beer and Papa Burgers, he and his buddies continued to visit. Turns out that the younger sister, Shannon, was pretty, too. And friendly, with a charming smile. A natural flirt.
Problem was, our hero hot-rodder, Dennis, was a red-head. Not any run-of-the-mill red-head, but blazing orange carrot top red-head. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It just wasn’t her taste.
But what’s meant to be is meant to be and love must have its way.
And so a romance blossomed and shortly after Shannon graduated, they married.
Even when the beautiful older sister died tragically in a car accident at an intersection all too close to the A&W where so many memories were made, love strengthened through grief.
We have had the happiest of days, giving birth to and raising two delightful and beautiful red-headed daughters who would one day also graduate from Central Valley High School.
Through richer and poorer - mostly poorer - as job layoffs and back injuries set us back again and again, our love endured. Through sickness and in health, with Shannon’s devastating diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis and her threats to leave Dennis so as not to bring him down with her declining health, our commitment deepened with Dennis’ promise to take care of Shannon.
Our love experienced its greatest test yet, when our daughter was diagnosed with cancer not once, but twice and recurring again and again. We helped her battle through treatments and surgery after surgery for 10 painfully long years, helping to care for her young son. She passed away at the age of 38, leaving a grieving husband and 10-year old.
We look at each other in awe after 42 years of marriage and are reminded of how to endure:
“Realizing you have everything you ever need right in front of you and knowing that is a gift.”
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