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Welcoming Flowers Lei

" For my 30 year vow renewal in Hawaii
Here are a few words from my Heart " Carl

Ever heard the song Living on Love by Alan Jackson? This is a story about two young people, from different countries, who didn't have anything, who said our vows and spread our wings.

I was stationed back in 1992 at Ft. Bliss, Texas. Soldiers partied across the border in Juarez, Mexico. During this time, partying is when I first laid eyes on my true love, Cecilia. Though at the moment in a dimly lit nightclub, (Spanky's) late one night is when I mustered enough courage to ask Cecy to dance. I didn't know it was true love. I didn't speak Spanish, and she didn't speak English. I was asking my friend to translate for me. I said to myself, If I would like to be alone with her, I will need to learn the basics. Needless to say, I learned Spanish pretty fast. In just a matter of four months, we were already having a great time together.

1993 came, and it was almost time for my first enlistment to end. I knew that if I left the Army, I wouldn't ever see her again, as I would be sent back to California after enlistment. Well, I decided to stay longer and commit to the army. In doing so, I had more time to be with her. We saw each other almost every day for a little over a year, and then, in August 1993, I asked her to marry me. It wasn't the best proposal in the world, by far. I went to ask her parents for her hand in marriage, but she wasn't there, and I was told that she had gone to Ft. Bliss to visit me. Needless to say, it was a very awkward moment when I asked her parents permission to marry her. It was pouring rain that day. I went to my barracks and asked the watch if anyone had seen her, and they said no. I was so worried, as she was nowhere to be found that rainy evening. An hour passed by, and I peeked outside my room, and that's when I saw her walking towards me, drenched in rain. I told her where I was and what I had done; she was shocked and wet. This is when I popped the question, "Will you marry me?" Lucky for me, she said yes.

Being young, we didn't have enough money to have a traditional wedding. I was being sent to Korea for a hardship tour, and all I could think about was her. I wanted to take care of her, but communication would be hard if she continued to reside in Mexico. So, in February 1994, we got married quickly in a courtroom with just a judge and a random witness so that I could have her as a dependent and she could stay in the Ft. Bliss area, and I knew we could constantly be in communication while I was in Korea. By the way, she was pregnant with our first child when I was sent overseas. It was rough that she had to go through everything with the pregnancy alone, without a husband to support her, in a foreign country that she could not understand due to the language barrier. I was fortunate enough to have understanding leaders that I was able to return to see our firstborn come to this world.

Wedding Ceremony

Many years have passed, and we have had three more children. I've always been gone due to being in the service and my commitment to defend our country. During this hardship—separations, sickness, deployments, and moving from station to station to different countries—we managed to stay together. Cecy always supported me, pushed me to be the best that I could be while making our house a home, and for being an exceptional mother and raising four wonderful children, Stephanie, Zachary, Sydney, and Brianna. She is everything to me—a best friend, a wife, and the mother of our children. Our love for each other walked through fire without even skipping a beat or blinking.

Many more years passed, and our relationship grew even stronger. It wasn't always unicorns and rainbows; there were a lot of trials and hardships, but through it all, we always managed and worked things out, finding solutions, motivations, and inspiration with each other.

As the years have passed, my commitment to the army has come to an end. After 25 years of ups and downs, we are still together. A little bit better than where we started back in 1994. We still remember our vows to each other. She has given me all the support and encouragement I need to be a good husband and father to our kids. Now it's my turn to support her, as she has done for me.

Flowers Lei

She is an avid runner, very competitive, and always pushes herself to be the best. The 2023 Honolulu marathon is coming, and she wanted to do it. As a surprise, I got tickets to Hawaii so that she could partake in the event. We've been stationed in Hawaii before, and we always wanted to come back for a vacation, so we did. I told the kids that their mom would be running the marathon. I was so proud of her that I told our friends and family what she was about to do. They were all so happy and wanted to be there and support her. With the passage of time, our list has expanded from just our children to include over 20 families and friends. Seeing this much support tells you what kind of person she is. She is always there for anyone, anytime, and anywhere. Her heart is so big and full of love that you can feel it just by speaking to her.

As the months draw nearer to the marathon, she has been training hard for a few months now, and the list of family and friends has now been confirmed. Remember our courtroom wedding? Well, the most important people in our lives will be in Hawaii with us for the marathon. This is when that light bulb in my head turned on. Why not have our almost 30 years of marriage, 29 years and 10 months of vows renewed, and have our family and friends bear witness to our commitment to each other and say our vows in front of our loved ones? Who knows when we will have our family and friends together again? Tomorrow is not promised.  We are so blessed, and we thank God for blessing us with so much. Our love for each other has grown stronger each and every day.

To my wife Cecy, 30 years ago, we promised to love each other, for better or for worse, through sickness and through health, for better and for poorer. Well, we have endured all the hardships, and we are still together. There were so many times where we almost went our separate ways, but we didn't. Now, with better days ahead of us, I know our love will only grow stronger, and I will stay forever yours. And my promise to be with you for better or for worse, for richer and poorer, through sickness and through health, til death do us part, this time with God, family, and friends as our witness, I promise to love you forever.