The Joy of Being Married…

to Joseph

Acknowledgement

  • To my Father in heaven who knew me before I was in the womb and knew it was one of my purposes to write.
  • To my husband, Joseph who came to know me and stayed just the same.
  • To my children Eddie, Marie, Clarissa & Charmaine and Jerrold who are still getting to know me as well as I know them.
  • To my current and future grand children (Jazzmin, Aaron, Lauren, et. Al) you are forever in my heart and prayers.
  • To my mother Josephine Laurence whom I love and cared for when she did not know herself.
  • To my mother and father in law Edward and Clarissa Codrington who came to love me as much as they love my husband.

Foreword

When I first set eyes on Laura back in ‘80 while we were students at Eastern Michigan University, I knew I wanted her in my life. She has the most beautiful eyes I had ever seen and I knew I wanted to look into those eyes every day. In Barbados, I had little luck with girls because I was not seen as attractive and to top it off I was poor. Being a fisherman’s son put my family and I at the lowest end of the class structure according to others. My father told me that eating fish was the best food a person could eat and ended it with his story about Jesus and his diciples being fishers of men. These stories would instill the courage I utilzed to overcome my societies sterotype of my family and I. I was able to become one of the best athletes in Barbados, go to one of the top schools and earn a scholarship to a university in the United States. It is with this same courage that I approached Laura one winter day and whispered in her ear “Hello Beautiful Eyes”. If you hear the story from Laura she will tell you that it was her idea to get married, but it wasn’t. I let her think it was her idea. I had plans to marry her shortly after we began dating. Like most men, I did not feel I was ready until I had something to build a life on and for me it was completing my degree once that was set then I was ready. Laura made all the plans and I never went against them. November 1984, we were married in a small church ceremony. I have no regrets, I never will. Laura is the love of my life and always will be.

Introduction

I was born and raised in Detroit. I spent my teenage years on the east side with my five brothers and mother, Josephine Laurence. I never knew my father to live in our home and my mother and stepfather seperated when I was ten. I witnessed him fight her one too many times before she forced him to leave. I was determined from the onset, to be educated. There were not many in my family who chose this path and I was determined to be one of the chosen few. Before I finished high school, I had little money and a new child to raise, which made my determination to get a college degree even stronger. I was not sure how I was going to go to college because my family was foodstamp poor. Mama worked two and three jobs to keep us afloat after the seperation so I knew I could not depend on any resources from her. I was at the top of my graduating class and was easily accepted to the two colleges that I applied to, the problem was funding. I stayed in the career services office until I was able to get information about finacial aid. God’s hand moved in my life and Fall term ’77 I took a greyhound bus to Ypsilanti Michigan.

Joseph was born and raised in Barbados, West Indies. His mother, Clarissa Codrington, and father, Edward Codrington, were married to one another all his life. However, they both had children outside of their marriage. Joseph grew up with his two brothers from his mother and barely knew the host of brothers and sisters that his father had with other women. He spent his teenage years primarily in the company of Edward and Clarissa.

His mother and father loved one another very dearly. They were carribbean poor people, but love was abundant and Joseph witnessed it. His father was a fisherman and his mother, stayed home and took care of Joseph, his brothers and his father. He witnessed his father come in from a long day of fishing and hand over his earnings for the day to Clarissa. Edward depended on Clarissa to take care of the entire household needs then aportion his cirgarette share. By the grace of God, she made it work. God was at work again when he made it possible for a fisherman’s son to go to the best school on the island. Edward would trade fish for math lessons so Joseph could keep up. Once more God’s hand was at work when Joseph received a athletic scholarship to go to college. Fall term ‘80 Joseph left Barbados and took a five-hour flight to a little town called Ypsilanti Michigan.

In these pages we want to share with you some characteristics that has made our marriage strong over the years. We hope you will find some encouragement in our experiences that will help you to continue to grow and love one another in your marriage. See if you can spot the central thread throughout this book. It is not secret, just a fact of our marriage.

Chapter One: FAITH

Rom 11:1 Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

Joseph and I met October 1980 when the days seemed longer and bitter cold walking from classroom building to classroom building. I was on my way to my morning class. We were about to pass one another at EMU’s Buell Hall. Joseph apparently had his eye on me from the bottom of the hill. My mind was still reeling from having spent the previous evening with the worse date imaginable. The only reason I agreed to a date with this guy was because he had the same name as my biological father – Willie. I quickly knew there would be no possibility of a relationship when I learned that he had no intentions of going to college. In fact after I asked him about it, he stated, you finish and then teach me when you get out – ugh!! Visiting the mailbox that morning, which I did not do often, I received a shut off notice stating that my phone would be shut off later that day. Then to make matters worse, my dean gave me the news that my poor grades this semester would result in my being asked to leave the Univeristy. I turned my attention to the matters more urgent – finding a job and putting my four-year-old daughter, Charmaine, in daycare. This would be traumatic since we were seldom seperated. Charmaine would not like the idea either, she cried for some time whenever I had to leave her with others.

Students were moving about campus to their respective destinations. Joseph passed by close enough for me to hear him whisper “Hello beautiful eyes” in an accent I was not accustomed to hearing. I had been told that my eyes were beautiful before, but this was different. Joseph’s whisper cut through the noise of the morning and the noise in my head. I turned and saw him standing just beyond me. He had the biggest smile I had ever seen. His teeth were bright white and he was dark chocolate. I asked, “What is your name?” He said “My friends call me Codgie” and asked “What is your name daugh-ta?” We talked for about two more minutes then he asked if he could call me. The noise in my head was vieing for attention and I remembered the shut off notice. I decided that as faith would have it, I’d probably never see him again so instead of explaining my life story, I gave him my phone number. He headed towards DC1 continuing to smile wide. My head noise continued where it left off and I went on to Pray Harrold.

I survived the fall term and spring term was approaching. My phone was still not turned on, but I had found a job on campus. Charmaine was beginning to get used to being in daycare. She did not cry as much when I left. She still ran into my arms when I came to pick her up as if she did not want to stay there another minute. Charmaine and I lived in Eastern’s family housing. The resident advisor in the student dorm suggested that we move to the family housing apartments after my roommate let on that she was living with a roommate who had a baby daughter sharing the room. Cornell Courts turned out to be a better situation. It was my first real apartment. Charmaine had her own room, as did I. We had a living room and kitchen combined and it was like a palace to me. To pay for it I had to apply for Aid to Dependent Children (ADC). I dreaded this. I remember from my days as a child having to stand in food stamp lines and the looks that the clerks would give as if the money was coming right out of their pockets. I learned later, that it was in a sense. Charmaine’s biological dad, Boysie, was very mad about this, even though he never gave me a penny for Charmaine; he was upset that the government was going to request that he pay for his child. In revenge, he quit his job and went underground only working places that would pay him under the table. I spent six months in court at the request of ADC trying to get him to pay. They gave up and I focused on my education and my child. I was through with deadbead dads.

Summer was approaching and the cinderblock apartments at Eastern were heating up. To cool the apartment down, we had a method of putting a fan in a front window and a back window of the apartment. One fan was used to blow the air out of the apartment and another was used to blow the air into the apartment to cool it down. It worked most of the time, but more often than not, it was hot. Carla, my neighbor, asked me to come down to her apartment to press her hair. I put Charmaine to bed closed the door and went down the hall to Carla’s. We had the door open and were talking and laughing loud. Her baby’s father was an Alpha by the name of Steven. I had pledge Alpha Angel and he was considered one of my big brothers. He was not claiming Carla’s child as his own and we had a field day on him. While we talked and laughed we heard a knock at the door. I turned and it was Joseph. I almost burnt Carla’s head. “Do you know him?” She asked. Startled partly by the sight of him and partly by being burnt. I paused before saying “How did you find me?” I had given him my disconnected phone number. He stood on the other side of the screen door smiling wide. “Can I come in?” He asked. He came inside as I finished Carla’s hair then we went to my apartment.

As a college student, credit card company’s prey on you. I was no exception. My apartment was funished on credit. I had a huge floor model television that I was very proud of. In my livingroom, I had purchased a brown overstuffed pit sectional from Montgomery Wards. The school gave us kitchen tables and beds. We were allowed to paint any color as long as we repainted it white before we left. I had yellow walls and in Charmaine’s room I had painted clouds and stars in blue and white with yellow trim. “I can’t believe you found me.” I said to Joseph as he sat at the kitchen table. “Yeah daugh-ta. I can’t believe it either. I was about to give up when I heard your laugh.” He said. “You still have not told me how you found me.” I said. “Well I was sitting in my dorm and got tired of just being alone and decided to come look for you. I ran into a girl who told me that you probably lived up here so I came up and knocked on doors until I heard your voice. That is the way we do things in Barbados daugh-ta.” He said. “Why do you call me daughter?” I asked. “It is a sign of respect that we bajans use. It means I like you.” That made me smile. “Why did you give me a wrong number?” He asked the million-dollar question. I was beginning to feel comfortable with him; comfortable enough to tell him the truth. “To be honest,” I began, “My phone was being cut off the same day you asked me for my number. I figured that I probably would never see you again so it didn’t matter if you had the right number or not.” He never stopped smiling. “Would you like some kool-aid?” I asked to change the subject. It was a school night and I was not sure if he drank or not. “Yes, please.” He answered. “Is that a television?” He asked moving the short distance to the livingroom. “Yes it is.” I answered. “Would you like me to turn it on? We could watch some television.” I said. “That would be nice.” The only thing on at that time of night was news so the television watched us. I learned where Barbados was, which prior to meeting Joseph, I had no idea existed. Just coming to Ypsilanti from Detroit was a big deal for me. I learned that Joseph grew up very poor and had no running water in his house. He told me that his family did not own a television; the only television in his neighborhood was at the community center. “The television was four times smaller than yours,” He said. “Fights would break out over which programs to watch.” His mother and father forbid him to go there to watch the community television. He told me the story of how he came to the US. He said that he made a promise to God that if he gave him a track scholarship to the States that he would become a Christian. God answered his prayer and he is trying to keep his promise. We talked into the night before he left and as faith would have it, we made plans to see one another again. I would look forward to that.