defying the odds means proving everyone wrong..
& that's exactly what they have done. When Scarlet emailed me to nominate herself & her husband, Charlie, she made sure to include this in her email.. "I think we would be a good choice because no one thought we would make it very long as there is 22 years difference in our age, but we proved them wrong!" They are going on 31 years of marriage & if that wasn't enough, the obstacles they have overcome during their time together makes their story so much better.. This is Scarlet & Charlie.
Where did the two of you meet?
"We met about 35 years ago, at The Longhorn." Scarlet began to explain. "It was a night that I was working at St. Joseph's & I lived over in Campbell. The roads had iced over so I ended up staying the night with my friend that I worked with & she talked me into going to the bar. I gave her all the excuses in the book, I don't know anyone here, & I don't have anything to wear.. she told me she had something I could wear so, of course, we went. There probably wasn't 30 to 35 people in the entire place & that's how we met."
Would you consider that your first date?
"I don't think we ever went on a real date." Charlie said while smiling. Scarlet laughed & said "I think our first real date was at the Fish Fry but Jimmy Joe was with us. His next door neighbor. He was always with us. It was either there or a restaurant in Hugo." Scarlet told me as she looked over to her husband as if asking him which it was. "Jimmy Joe was there in Hugo, too." He said & laughed a little. Scarlet went on to explain how even after they got married Jimmy Joe would come over for supper every night until he got sick.
Who said I love you first?
"Probably me!" Scarlet laughingly admitted. I asked Charlie if he remembered it like that & he said "I have no clue, I don't remember 30 years ago."
When did you realize you wanted to spend forever with her?
"I don't know if I did." Charlie joked. "Well what the deal was... she had an operation & she wasn't supposed to drive & I told her come stay down at the house, me & Jimmy Joe will take ya around wherever she needed to go. That's pretty much how it all got started."
What's your favorite thing about him?
"My favorite thing .. is how he can absolutely overcome the hardest things." She said with tears in her eyes.
This is when I decided to skip the next question because I didn't want to make anyone uncomfortable & it was a little deeper than the rest.
What's your favorite thing about her?
"Well, my mother really liked her." Charlie said. I giggled & told him that was definitely a plus. " & my daddy too... and uh she thinks of others before she thinks of herself." He told me.
What's your least favorite thing about him?
"Ohhh gawww!!" Charlie exclaimed while rolling his eyes. Scarlet patted him on the leg & said "He can get a little grouchy every now & then but you know what? It's because I've brought in all of these rescue dogs. That's my other favorite thing about him, is how you can have an old dog, or a young dog, just any dog that's on it's last chance.. doesn't trust anybody, doesn't like anybody. Charlie won't try to make it like him or trust him but he will absolutely be the only one that dog ends up trusting & will stay right under his feet" Scarlet explained. "We have 26 rescue dogs right now, most of them were death day dogs."
My mind was blown. 26 dogs? I asked a few more questions because I was truly intrigued & they both told me all about the dogs, and goats, and pigs, and donkeys. It was plain to see the two of them found an enormous joy in taking care of these animals. Before our crazy farm conversation ended Scarlet made sure to let me know how much she loved the way Charlie treated all of their babies.
Have you ever had your pictures made together, just the two of you?
"Angie got us some done back in 2010, I think, but it was one of those things where we got some done, Angie got some done & then the little girl who spent the summer with us was there too." Said Scarlet. "The best part was our little Dotson who kept photobombing us."
During the middle of our session
the electricity went out. It was lightly raining, but there were no thunderstorms or anything. Charlie jokingly asked If I had paid the bill & I assured him that I had. Scarlet took the lights being out as an opportunity to tell me about the one time she forgot to pay the light bill & when they got home nothing was on. She said 'That's another thing I love about him, he is so laid back, & kinda just rolls with the flow. I was so afraid he was going to be mad at me & it was like he didn't mind at all." We continued with the interview even though we all looked crazy sitting in the dark.
Tell me about your wedding day?
"Well, it was just a JP wedding" Scarlet said. "He had been married before & I had been married before. Two of our friends met us up there & they were our witnesses. But boy did we ever get hounded by our family members for not having a wedding." I asked how long they had been together before they got married, "4 years!" Scarlet said in disbelief. Like she still couldn't believe her sister had gotten mad that they didn't have a wedding!
Who controls the thermostat at home?
"I don't touch it." Charlie assured me. "I'm always hot, & he's always freezing." Scarlet said in the most serious manner.
What do you see when you look at each other?
I turned to Charlie & asked.. "Her thoughtfulness, she's the backbone of her family, her kids. I don't know what any of them would do without her."
Scarlet, what do you see when you look at him?
"Well.. I see strength." She said. When I think of him, when I think of us, I think of devotion, in it for the long-haul. We've had so much tragedy." She explained while her voice cracked & she fought back her tears. "We've been as broke as you can get, But there's been times we've had money. We've been up & we've been down but we've always just seemed to take care of each other."
As I took a deep breath & was getting ready to ask the next question Charlie stopped me & said, "Why are you asking us all of these questions anyways?" I smiled & explained to him that every year I did something around Valentine's Day, usually it was mini sessions for the local kids but this year I wanted to do something different, I wanted to meet couples who would tell me about their love story, that wasn't afraid to have their pictures made & wasn't afraid to share their story with the world. How it was more of a project for myself than it was for anyone else. He nodded his head like he understood but I could tell it still didn't make very much sense to him. I added that I was 28 years old, I had two little girls & I had never been married. I had been with my boyfriend for about 6 months & was head over heels in love with him but I wanted to look back to the beginning of our story & remember that one time I sat down with all those old people & listened to them tell me about their struggles & hardships. What made them pull through & stay together.. As they sat & listened to me explain why I was doing what I was doing I couldn't help but think to myself, these people probably think I'm crazy. Charlie looked at me & said 'you've never been married?" I replied - no sir, I haven't. "Well you don't even know what it is then do ya?".. No sir, I sure don't. I told him.
What does love mean to you?
"I think it goes with what I said walla go, endearment maybe? Something that is long lasting." Scarlet said. "Trust." Charlie chimed in. Scarlet immediately agreed & went on to tell me how trust had never been an issue in their relationship, & how the only time she ever worried was when he would be working out on the dozer & it would start to get dark & he still hadn't made it home yet. She would load the kids up to go find wherever he was working & almost every single time they would meet at the end of the road. "That's the only time I worried." She said
Last Question, I told them..
If you could leave any advice for the younger generation, what would it be?
"Don't get married if you're not expecting to stay with that person through good & bad...poor & rich, through & through." Scarlet told me. Charlie cut in & explained how getting married today wasn't the same as it was back in the old days. Getting a divorce then was looked at as a disgrace & how they both had been divorced before their marriage now. "There was an occasional divorce back then" Scarlet said, 'but it's a different generation now." Charlie finished.
I nodded my head in agreement because I completely understood. In today's world relationships aren't taken as serious as they were. Obviously, I don't know from experience because I didn't grow up in the 40s nor have I ever been married but I knew from the way they spoke & the things I was taught growing up that people were quick to leave when things got rough now-a-days.
We were almost ready for the photo-session part of the interview when I turned to Scarlet & told her I had skipped one of the questions earlier because I had seen how upset she had become & I didn't want to make her cry. I explained how I was going to ask this question but they didn't have to answer if they didn't want to. She said okay & we went on.
Tell me about a time the two of you might've struggled in your relationship & what you did to overcome it?
She told me all about how they never really struggled - as far as leaving each other went, that was never an option. But how two summers in a row it rained a whole lot & they struggled financially because Charlie couldn't work on the dozer while it was wet. "He got real good at nintendo that year." She laughed & said. I asked what his favorite game was & of course, Super Mario was his answer.
I turned the recorder off & we talked about how we were going to manage these pictures considering the electricity was still off, I suggested we step outside underneath the awning so we didn't get wet & we could use the natural light. They both agreed & we ended up getting these gems.
After it was all said & done
& the two of them gathered their belongings & made way to their car, I couldn't help but wonder why Scarlet had been so emotional during the first part of our session. It wasn't until days later while I was reading emails that I came across one I had somehow missed.. here's part of what it said..
"....I think they would be great. They have been through so much in their years together. He had raised his children before they met/married and gladly accepted the role of raising two young step children. They have endured the tragic deaths of both of his sons (separate car accidents), the death of his parents (from another car accident), and then the murder of one of his two grandsons. Things that destroy some marriages only made theirs stronger. He is the sweetest man and you would never know what he has been through."
Read that last part again, things that destroy some marriages only made theirs stronger.
She was absolutely right. You would never be able to tell by looking or talking with that man that he had been through so much turmoil in his life. Despite all of the heartache he still holds his head high. Despite all of the odds that were meant to break the two of them, they managed to push through. Scarlet & Charlie have truly been through it all.
Now, If that isn't relationship goals then I don't know what is.
Stay tuned for more sessions from Lamar County Love Stories & What Love Means!