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‘They Wanted to Put Us on a Ventilator … the Vows Say, ‘For Better or For Worse…’

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BY JE’DON HOLLOWAY-TALLEY

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, please send nominations to Barnett Wright bwright@birminghamtimes.com. Include the couple’s name, contact number(s) and what makes their love story unique.

DELMUS AND AUDRIANNA BLACK

Live: Gardendale

Married: Feb. 16, 2002.

Met: Fall 1997, at the Texaco gas station in Fairfield.  Audrianna said she was new to the area and was still settling in when she ran into Delmus.

“I went to that gas station to get my favorite ice cream dessert [a Choco Taco] … and as I was walking toward the counter to pay, Delmus came in and paid for his gas, and on his way out something fell out of his wallet, and I said, ‘excuse me, sir, you dropped something.’ And he turned around, and with no smile on his face, picked it up and said, ‘you’re supposed to put your number on it’, and that caught me off guard,” Audrianna said. “…I ended up giving him the number [even though] I was kind of hesitant …”

Delmus was attracted to her allure. “It was her complexion and the hairdo combo. She had the short Anita Baker style, she looked good and had a nice smile,” Delmus recalled.

Delmus and Audrianna became fast friends “…he knew my family, he would come to the cookouts, we used to sit around [as a] group of friends and laugh… we became close,” she said.

“I was her air and she was my air, and then around May 2000, we decided to go on a date,” Delmus said. He didn’t try to pursue anything sooner “because I would have messed it up. I told her she was wife material and I wasn’t looking for my wife [when we met], so we were friends,” he said.

First date: May 2000, at a wing joint off of Lakeshore Dr. and to see ‘Road Trip’ a film that starred Breckin Meyer, Seann William Scott and others at the Wildwood Movie Theater.

“I remember it was a Thursday night because we had to make do with his work schedule, and there was hardly anybody in the theater… we talked and laughed through the whole movie, and he snuck his arm around me and it didn’t make me uncomfortable, it wasn’t weird, and I thought it would be because we were friends for so long. We had vowed that if anything compromised the friendship we would stop to protect it, but we didn’t have to,” Audrianna said.

The turn:  During the Christmas season in 2000. “I bought her first little friendship [promise] ring. I told her this ain’t no wedding ring, but I like where this is going,” Delmus laughed. “We put forth a lot of effort to make sure we spent a lot of time together. That’s when I knew it was getting really serious because of all the extra effort we were putting into it,” he said. Their work schedules conflicted, as Delmus worked varying shifts as a steel worker, and Audrianna worked a 9-5 as a medical billing coder].”

“What’s understood doesn’t need to be explained. [Our] actions told us what we both already knew, so we didn’t need to talk about it [becoming exclusive],” Audrianna said.

The proposal: June 2001, at Audrianna’s house in Fairfield in her living room.

“She had just come home from work and she wasn’t feeling her best, and I sat down in the chair she had just bought me for Father’s Day and I sat her in my lap and I told her I want you at your best and at your worst. Sickness is something that is going to [come and go] and I told her not to worry about it because we’re gonna be together regardless and that’s when I pulled the ring out and asked her to be my wife,” Delmus said. “And then she said, ‘why are you doing this right now while I look like this?’, and she started crying,” Delmus said.

“I didn’t look anything like I would’ve wanted to look for my proposal. My nose was red, I was stopped up, my hair was in disarray, I looked a mess.” Audrianna said. “And through a congested nose, after the tears, I accepted his proposal and then asked him why he didn’t wait?”

“And that’s when I said the vows say, ‘for better or for worse, in sickness and in health,’” Delmus said.

“And we have definitely taken those vows seriously. We both had COVID-pneumonia in January 2021. We were in the hospital on the same floor, and neither one of us knew if the other was going to make it. We had asthma attacks and flatlined. They wanted to put both of us on a ventilator. And both of our doctors said ‘no, don’t put either of them on a ventilator… I stayed for six days, and he stayed for five. He lost his sight for a while [from complications],” Audrianna said.

The wedding: In February 2002, they took their vows at the church they were attending at the time, Gospel of Peace Christian Assembly in Titusville, officiated by, Reverend Daniel Dunning. “He opened the church for us and we had not even 10 people there, it was just our parents and siblings,” Audrianna said.

“That’s when we were first getting deep off in church, studying the Bible and we realized we weren’t doing right just staying together, so we made it right before God,” said Delmus.

While they took their vows in February they had an actual wedding later in the year on Oct. 12 at The Wedding Chapel in Forestdale, officiated by Reverend Daniel Dunning, and their colors were navy and silver.

Most memorable for the bride was their arrival at the downtown Sheraton hotel after their wedding ceremony.

“We rented a pearl white PT Cruiser so we could get that old school look, and we pulled up to the Sheraton and I still had my dress on. It was late and when we walked in the people in the lobby started cheering and singing ‘Going to The Chapel’, and it was so sweet,” Audrianna said.

Most memorable for the groom was his eager anticipation for his bride at the altar. “When they first opened the doors and I saw her in her dress… I hadn’t seen her in two days, and even though we were already married, I got nervous and I couldn’t wait for her to get to me. When she got about halfway down the aisle, I left my post and went and got her and walked her down the rest of the way myself,” Delmus laughed.

They honeymooned in the Poconos in Pennsylvania and stayed in the champagne suite.

“It had a champagne tub that was 6 feet off the ground, it had a stairwell that led to the top of it and a swimming pool all in the suite. We never left the room,” Delmus said.

Words of wisdom: “Be honest and communicate. Communication goes a long way. If you’re not able to talk together you’re talking against each other. Be truthful, if you’re lying in the house, you’re lying to yourself. It will only come back and bite you. When you’re married the two become one, so if you’re lying to your spouse, you’re lying to yourself,” Delmus said.

“There has to be respect. Respect when we’re with each other and respect when we’re away from each other. Don’t allow other people inside your union. There should only be one other person in your union, and that’s the one who put the union together– God,” Audrianna said. “We seek God when we have those times of not understanding each other, and we remember we were friends first. We remember that bond, he’s my best friend.

Happily Ever After: The Blacks run an online ministry, New Beginnings Ministry, and plan to move to in-person services. They are a blended family with two daughters, Stephanie, 30, Autumn, 13, from their union, and have two dogs, Cookye, and LuLu.

Audrianna, 52, is an Ensley native and P.D. Jackson Olin High School grad. She attended the University of Alabama at Birmingham [UAB] where she studied medical coding and the Bible Institute [Hunstville] where she obtained an associate’s degree in theology.  She retired from the business side of the medical industry after 20 years.

Delmus, 48, is a Brighton native, and Midfield High School grad. He attended the Bible Institute [Hunstville] where he obtained an associate’s degree in theology, and has worked for CMC Steel in Birmingham as a steelworker for 27 years.

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