Larry and I met at Norfolk State University in Norfolk, Virginia, “Behold the Green and Gold!” Our freshman year, we boarded a bus to go to a basketball game. I immediately knew after seeing Larry that I would marry him! We started dating soon after we met in 1970 and became engaged in our junior year of college. We were married a week before our graduation on May 11, 1974, and during that same month, Larry was commissioned as an officer into the United States Army.
I’m from a small town in Virginia called South Hill. I was raised with a loving mother and father and four siblings. Larry, on the other hand, was raised by his single mother and two siblings but also in a small Virginia town. For me, I often heard my parents pray together and work collectively as a team because their bedroom was right next door to mine. Thinking back, their interactions as a couple taught me how a husband and wife who were committed and loved each other should work together as a solid unit.
I believe in love at first sight because I was immediately drawn to my husband during our initial encounter. We shared the same college major while in school, and because of this, we took several courses together. A lot of quality time was spent laughing and getting to know each other. As time went on, both of our feelings intensified the more we were in the presence of one another. Throughout the years, we have always laughed together and shared the same values. Which have been to keep God first, our family second, and our careers third.
Laughter and our deep commitment have kept us together for many years and helped us through several situations. Larry was an officer in the military during a time when it wasn’t easy for Black men to have a leading position in the armed forces. We’ve moved more than twenty times across the United States without knowing anyone on several occasions. However, I chose a career with the flexibility of working part-time while making an executive income in sales and driving those pink Cadillacs with Mary Kay. It allowed us the flexibility to travel the world for some alone time to keep our love flame LIT!
But the biggest challenge we’ve faced in our marriage was being caretakers to my parents and Larry’s mom for sixteen years. We pushed through and were able to maneuver with the key that not only helps us survive but also thrive in our marriage. Laughter. We’ve laughed to the hospital and rehab visits for back, hips and knee surgeries, cancer treatments, a dementia diagnosis, and in-home healthcare, up until their passing. Ultimately, we remained close by praying, completing morning devotions, and spending as much time as possible with just the two of us. We also maintained open, honest communication, which allowed us never to lose sight of our priorities.
Having two children of our own added to our family legacy, and we now look forward to loving on their children (our grandchildren) just as we did with our beautiful son and daughter. Since our entire families are alumni of Norfolk State University, attending yearly homecoming celebrations has been and will continue to be our tradition. This year as we celebrate 46 years of togetherness, I’m reminded daily why our love story is one
I would relive over and over again.
Reflections by Marita Campbell