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‘The love for our kids was the glue that held us together’

By Anita Debro
Special to the Birmingham Times

“You Had Me at Hello’’ highlights married couples and the love that binds them. If you would like to be considered for a future “Hello’’ column, or know someone who would, please send nominations to Ariel Worthy at aworthy@birminghamtimes.com. Include the couple’s name, contact number(s) and what makes their love story unique.

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Live: Center Point

Married: June 11, 1971

Met: In 1967. Patricia’s brother was dating David’s sister. Patricia and David’s sister were going on a picnic when David saw her and thought “that was a pretty girl,” he remembered. But Patricia was not impressed. “I wasn’t (paying attention) to [him],” she said. “I use to call him names.” But David was persistent. He told her brother he liked her. It would take him two years to convince her.

First date: In 1969 Patricia was a little older and softer to the idea of going out with David. They went to the movies on a double date. After that the two would see one another on the weekends when David would come home from his Air Force base in Ft. Walton Beach Fla. David said he knew almost immediately that Patricia would be his wife. “I was persistent.” Patricia felt she was too young to be married, but would eventually change her mind.

The proposal: David had been proposing for the two years since they had been dating. By January 1971 he asked Patricia again. This time she said yes.

The wedding: The couple were married in her mother’s house in Gate City one month after she graduated from Carver High School. She wore the same white dress that she had sewed herself for graduation. “I remember we had family there, my uncle stood in for my father because he was out of town,” she said. “His sister was there and my younger sister was a flower girl.” The couple moved to an apartment on Huntsville Road after the wedding.

Words of Wisdom: “You have to just love one another,” David said.

“Trust and respect is important,” Patricia said.

David said the couple went through rough patches. “It wasn’t all good between us. We had our ups and down. About five years into the marriage I went buck wild,” he said. “During my wild times, though, I opened up a door and got a look at myself in the mirror. I didn’t like that guy.”

During those days Patricia said she just prayed. “I would not tell anybody that marriage is easy,” she said. “You really have to work at it. Sometimes I wanted to give up and throw in the towel.”

“The love for our kids was the glue that held us together,” David said.

Happily ever after: This year Patricia decided she would have the formal wedding that she never had. So she planned a wedding vow renewal to coincide with the couple’s 47th wedding anniversary. “I wanted a church wedding,” she said.  David found out during a church service that the vow renewal was planned.  The couple renewed their vows at their home church Mt. Zion Community Church in front of friends and family.  David remembers that day his best friend teased him, saying his bride was going to surprise him. But David didn’t know how he could be surprised by the woman he had been married to for four decades. “Then she walked down that aisle and she was a knock out,” he said. “She put me in mind of the bride from [movie] ‘Coming to America.’ It was like I was seeing her for the first time.”

Patricia said she was finally happy with her special day. She was especially pleased that one of her grandsons sang the Luther Vandross classic “Here and Now.”

“It was exactly what I wanted,” she said.

Patricia is retired after years of working in the food service and childcare fields. David works at Allied Protection Agency as a security professional.

The couple now look forward to a golden 50-year anniversary in the coming years.  They want to spend more time with their family of five children, seven grandchildren and a large extended family.