Thursday, February 18, 2021

And Still We Remember By: Candice Smith


Time stood still.

No one moved or breathed.
No one believed that The Intimidator was mortal.
Certainly he’d walk away from what looked initially like an innocuous hit into the wall.
This was Daytona, the track that Earnhardt won consistently at and even had captured a 500 victory three years previously.
A collective gasp was heard.
Hearts sunk.
Mourning began.
A line was drawn – events that happened before February 18, 2001 and after.
The day Dale Earnhardt died.
Accidents happen, but he’d always walked away able to race the next time.
Lives forever changed that fateful day.
Healing began.
Dale Earnhardt will never be forgotten.
His indelible mark is as palpable today as it was then.
Perhaps more.
Then Earnhardt had as many detractors as fans. Fans would boo, jeer, and argue what a terrible competitor he was. A cheat, some would say, or a thug on the race track. Fans of Mark Martin, Rusty Wallace, Darrell Waltrip, and many other drivers couldn’t stand Earnhardt.
But when he was gone the enormity of Earnhardt’s death reverberated across NASCAR Nation and beyond.
Flags still fly proudly with the “No. 3” and Dale Earnhardt signature. His fans – ardent, loyal, passionate – still remember.
He was so much more than a NASCAR star.
Earnhardt was a sports icon, a business entrepreneur, a  farmer, a sponsor’s dream, a winning driver, a champion who tied King Richard Petty’s seven championships.
Earnhardt was a jokester, a fierce competitor, and a loyal friend.
He was a husband, business partner, hunter, and a father.
His legacy has made him immortal.
The name Earnhardt will forever be associated with racing – NASCAR –  and a host of positive things in the world as his family’s reach is constantly expanding.
Twenty years later and the landscape has changed immensely.
The one thing that has not changed is the allegiance shown by Earnhardt fans. There are endless stories of how Earnhardt touched their lives.
Others have entire rooms filled with Earnhardt memorabilia.
What every one of those fans has in common is their love, admiration, and adulation of Dale Earnhardt.
Twenty years on, as much that has changed, the Earnhardt fans stay the same.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Origins of Love & Loyalty: Dale Earnhardt 20 Years Later

Dale Earnhardt has been gone twenty years, but his life and legacy live on as do his diehard fans.

For many, losing Earnhardt was the end of NASCAR. For others, it was a natural transition from father to son. For so many he is still an icon, a legend, a god.

But how did this second-generation wheelman garner such passionate fandom? How did a guy with mediocre luck at the start of his career, catapult himself to stardom?

With 7 championships that tied him with the King of NASCAR, Richard Petty, and 76 race wins that put him 8th on the all-time wins list, Earnhardt was an unstoppable winning machine.

Even when a trophy from the Daytona 500, the Great American Race, eluded him for two decades, Earnhardt finally made it to Victory Lane in 1998. Every team member of every NASCAR Cup team lined up to high five and congratulate Earnhardt on such an auspicious win.

Earnhardt teased, played practical jokes, worked hard away from the track, and worked even harder on it. He was a damn great friend, mentor, husband, and father.

He was a Hero.

So how did his self-proclaimed Super Fans discover him and maintain their loyalty to his memory?

Here’s a random sampling of stories from fans I've met throughout the years:

Ira Coleman Jr.:

“He was having an autograph session at West Chevrolet Alcoa Tennessee and everybody was lined out the door waiting on him to show up. When him and Richard showed up Richard talked first and said folks I apologize for being late, Dale had scared us to death driving us over from the airport, he has drove like he was racing @ Bristol, I saw speeds over 100 a few times and he passed traffic by going up on the curb and every which way. lol The Folks were lined up for a hundred yards outside and after a hour his manager can't come in and tell on him that it was time to go, that they had to kiss to pine and fly on to Bristol Motor Speedway. Dale said I ain't leaving till I see everyone and he probably didn't because a man I work with had his autograph signed around 11 o'clock at night.”


Cathy Ann Brock Manchester remembers, “the time he came to Orlando, Fla, at K92, and I got his autograph! I never will forget that day when I seen him!”


Mindy Reno said, “My favorite memory is when I got to meet Dale Sr on June 22, 2000!”


David Foytlin:

“It was at an open house at RCR '89. I had an Earnhardt cap signed by the crew. I saw Richard sitting off to the side. Took him the hat for his signature. Told him that I had a spot on it for Dale to sign. He said wait a minute, took the hat and came back a few minutes later with Dale’s signature. I cherish that cap so much.”


Joey Cassady:

“When Dale came to Bowling Green, KY for an autograph session. It was cold and there was a pregnant woman that could not afford a ticket to get in and was waiting outside in the very cold weather. Dale saw her and asked her why she was waiting outside and she said she did not have a enough money for a ticket and it was her wedding anniversary and she wanted an autograph for her husband. Dale said let’s take a ride to the airport and he gave her his jacket off his back and some other stuff and ask if she had a name for the baby yet and she said no and he said Dale is a good name. He was a warrior on the track and a classy guy off the track.”


Brian Scott Gregory:

“The ultimate was when I was at the MI track in August of '98 and got to meet him, shake his hand and sat down with him and had a drink. Now that as awesome.  He didn’t treat me any different then he would have anyone else, and I didn’t treat him different. We sat and had a few drinks and talked about the weather and fishing and hunting. Not one word was mentioned about racing other then he did say about Jr. (I just don’t know what I'm gonna do with that boy, he just won’t listen to anyone). Gotta love it!”


Michael McHone:

“I also met Dale and Richard. They came to a grand opening for a Chevy dealer in Alaska. I have both their autographs on my copy of the 1994 Winston cup yearbook, the year of his last championship. What great people they were.  NASCAR took a big loss when Dale passed away.”


John Flock:

“He made an appearance at Fulton Speedway on one Watkins Glen weekend. After more than an hour of signing autographs, I had a private meeting with him in the office. All went well, talking of his dad's exploits in the 50's. When that first race hit the track, he stood up and said, ‘I gotta go. Can't stand to watch races when I'm not in a car.’”


Mark L. Bardin:

“Years ago, after a race in NH a friend of mine stopped at a restaurant. The place was packed. They sat my friend and his wife at a table for 6. They ordered there meals and as they we’re waiting in walked Dale Sr, Jr, Dale’s wife and (not sure)Jeffery. There was no place for them to eat so my friend noticed them and walked over and offered to have them sit with them. Dale accepted and was very kind, pleasant. Dry down to earth for such a famous man and family. My friend has since passed and lived in Pawlet, VT. I’m from Granville, NY right over the border from Pawlet, VT. Hearing the story and the the passing of Dale which I saw on TV was devastating . My father died in my arms at a basketball game up in the stands at 51 yearrs old . We worked together every day. Went to Dirt track racing together. We were very close. So, I relate to JR when his dad passed. I always wanted to meet them.  Jr. and I have red hair.”


Daniel Pascale:


“I watched him in 1979. He was rookie of the year. I couldn't stop watching him. My mom knew where I was every Sunday. He was my hero.”


Mary Elizabeth Gibson Peace


“Love Dale for The Kindness He Showed To Others & Never Wanted Any Recognition For It... He Put on This Hard Core But Really Had A Heart Of Gold....”


Dennis Baker


“Dale Earnhardt was one hell of a driver. I started liking him in the 80’s. I was and am a huge Chevy guy. The day he passed Bill Elliot in the grass he was my guy from then on. I’ve watched him go between two cars in turn one at Atlanta to pass them both. Come from 18 to win in 5 laps at ‘dega . I saw him win his last race at ‘dega and run his last at Daytona. I even named a dog I had after him.”


Greeta Burbage


“I loved the man he was and always will be the best ever, if I had to work on a weekend I would record the race and every break I’d be in my car listening to it on the radio!! He was the MAN!!”


Brian Blevins


“I became a fan based on his sheer determination and will to win… his driving ability was unmatched…”


Gerry Hamelton


“I remember one time after a race that he won on the last lap. Someone asked Dale why he had taken the leader out.

His answer was, ‘I wanted to win the race.’”


Lorie White


“I love watching Dale Sr. and Dale Jr. racing together. But after Dale Sr. passed away Dale Jr. became my favorite driver.”


Donna Lama Larson


“He was my favorite driver, I met him a few times, nice guy. Was at the race when he was killed, broke my heart. Cried For days. NASCAR died when we lost him.”


Keith Cox


“Dale was a real deal... raced you hard whether for the win or just to get back/put you a lap back!!!!”


Zack Ireland


“I was at my friend’s daughter’s birthday party. They had the race on TV. I had no idea who Earnhardt was. They asked what car I liked, it was the black number 3. It’s the coolest car on the track. The rest is history. Forever a fan, followed him ever since.”


Joyce Domini


“I became a fan when he was rookie of the year, when I was in Daytona watching the race when he drove the yellow and green Chevy. He was bumper to bumper on everybody in his way. I could not take my eyes off him. That was the first time we went to all races after that in states next to us. Alabama, Atlanta, Daytona, Darlington. Two a year at each place, then I got to meet him in Daytona, he was staying in the same hotel I was in.  I was so excited. I saw the mark key that said welcome Dale Earnhardt. I first thought it was just to Daytona, but it was to the hotel. Someone said he was at the beach with his family. I sat by the pool until he came up. I had my picture taken with him. My husband started talking to him, because had won lots of trophies in drag racing and could talk on his level. He visited with us a while, he was the nicest man. I also meet Richard Childress, he was so nice also.”


Ray E. Shelton


“I started watching Dale after reading an article about he and the death of his father. He drew my attention and his struggle to race in the NASCAR series was something that I felt drawn to. He was a no mess with driver that put his all into his racing. From his first full time season (‘79 ) to the beginning of an amazing career. Many hated him including drivers, but deep down it was like I was him. He worked hard away from the racetrack. When he had a bad race, I felt awful and grumpy then had a bad week myself. He was someone I looked up to and I couldn’t wait for the next race. The more I found out about him the more I followed him. The day we lost him my heart broke and I never hid the fact that I cried like was my best friend.”


There are as many stories as there are fans. There are as many “3” Flags that fly at races as any other number. New generations learn from others about “The Man In Black” and “The Intimidator”.


Dale Earnhardt lives on forever and continues to leave an indelible mark on his fans that will never go away.






Friday, January 1, 2021

Candice Smith, Chief 187, Christmas Candi

Welcome to my page!

My name is Candice Smith and I am thrilled you have found your way to this spot to find out more about me and what I do.

First and foremost, I am a wife and mother of three. I work hard in my community as a Board of Education trustee (in my second elected term) as well as work as a paraprofessional in a lovely school. Although I am also a licensed teacher, I work as a para because it fits the schedule I want to keep to raise my own children who are still at home.

Second, I am a three-time published author of the following books: Christmas Candi: A Guide To Year-round Holiday Bliss, The Man Behind the Beard co-authored by Pat Ficcio, and Drafting the Culinary Circuits co-authored by Eddie Crowther. Drafting the Culinary Circuits was a limited run book for 2020. 

Currently I am working on writing a book with my father about his lifelong love affair and ownership of automobiles. My dad used to write a popular series of articles that we are actively crafting into his memoirs. I also have a book in the planning stages about life, love, marriage, and parenthood.

I have written thousands of articles. Many of those articles were about Motorsports, specifically NASCAR and INDYCAR. I used to helm a website that offered these articles plus other articles from different writers about Formula One, ARCA, and other forms of Motorsports. At that website we also ran an Internet radio program titled "Drafting the Circuits" with a diverse and talented panel of writers and broadcasters who talked about and interviewed major talents including the legendary Mario Andretti, NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison, IndyCar legend Bobby Unser, 10-time ARCA champion Frank Kimmel, and Indianapolis 500 champion Alexander Rossi among scores of others In addition, I secured media credentials for Drafting the Circuits to cover races from the Indianapolis 500 to the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas, and NASCAR races at Texas Motor Speedway, Kentucky Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and Pocono International Raceway.

During the 2020 Holiday Season I posted daily Holiday Hints on social media. They were so well-received and many became the basis for articles that appeared weekly from Thanksgiving Week through New Year's Eve.

2021 promises to be another prolific year in terms of my writings. Monthly articles will be published while I continue to create books for future publication. The "Holiday Hints" will sprinkle the Internet periodically and become Daily Hints once September 2021 rolls around. 

Thank you for coming to this page to learn more about Candice Smith/Chief 187/Christmas Candi. You can find me on Facebook at the following pages where I post original content:




Feel free to read the blogs that populate this site and check back for new ones in 2021. If you are following me on social media, you'll be alerted. 

Friday, May 1, 2020

Mother's Day Gift Guide 2020 By: Candice Smith

Mother’s Day is approaching. It is May 10th this year. This means I’m giving you a head’s up and enough time to do more than give your mom a perfunctory card, a last minute phone call, or a hug. In these times of social distancing, uncertainty, and stress, Mom deserves some happiness.

Moms are special, and, as flawed as they may be (I speak from experience, I have three children and am flawed to the max) they tend to love their children wholly and completely.

So, in honor of Moms’ special day that arrives only once per year, why not take a few extra minutes, the money you were saving for a new video game or concert ticket, and splurge on your mom. I’m giving you notice and I don’t believe you’ll find a bigger return on your investment.

Guys, your wife who is the mother of your child(ren) may not be your mother, but she is the mother of your child(ren). She’s more than worthy of a nice gift just like your mom is. Remember, Father’s Day is next month and a good turn this month most certainly will yield a great one for your special day!

So, here’s my gift guide for Mother’s Day. Yes, it’s skewed to my tastes and desires. What do you expect, my name is on the title?! But, I am a woman, a mother, and think I have an insight into what other mothers may enjoy receiving.

Mother's Day Gift Guide 2020

Jewelry – This can’t be a surprise for any of you. Most women I know, albeit not all, love jewelry of some kind. Diamonds may be out of the price range (but if they’re not, go that route), but jewelry doesn’t have to be. Mother’s pieces, birthstone styles, initials, or anything she admires is appropriate. Although I adore fine jewelry our budget does not always have room for that. Costume jewelry is a lovely way to commemorate Mom, too. Even Rainbow loom bracelets or friendship bracelets made by the children is a lovely gesture. Find something that suits her taste and shows her you were thinking about her.

Framed Art – If you have children like I do your house is overrun with art projects from school. They hang from the refrigerator, the wall, sit in piles on the counter tops, and fill up storage bins in the basement. Sometimes I purge after taking digital pictures of the masterpieces, but mostly I have them saved. But there are a couple from each child that are so beautiful, meaningful, and sentimental to me that I have had them framed. Make or pick one of the children’s best works of art to be professionally framed and present it to Mom.

Spa day/1/2 day/hour – It is very sweet when my family gives me a scented lotion, bottle of nail polish, or a back scratcher, but I rarely have the time to scratch my back or the other more time-consuming tasks. Having me luxuriate for as little as one hour or up to a full day would be a truly sensational. Spas and salons will need business (EVERY business will need business) so pick up a gift certificate now and when life resumes normalcy, Mom has something to  look forward to and you have helped keep a business afloat.

A chaise lounge, a book, and some peace and quiet – I actually received this gift many years ago when I was pregnant with my last child. It was, and, to this day, still is my favorite (non-jewelry) gift. I still have the chaise lounge, books needing reading, but somehow, with three kids in the house, have lost track of the peace. One day I’ll find it! As for books to gift, I have three great titles to offer: Christmas Candi: A Guide to Year-round Holiday Bliss, The Man Behind the Beard, and Drafting the Culinary Circuits. All are available on Amazon.

Plants/trees – Cut flowers are very nice and pretty, but they are dead and fade quickly. But a flowering plant or tree is a gift that gives joy for years on end. Make planting part of the gift unless Mom loves to get her hands dirty in this way.

Tickets to something and a babysitter – When social distancing gets faded out, plan to take her out. Theater her thing, find a local production. Concerts turn her on, take Mom to hear her favorite band/singer. Does she love racing (and what woman doesn’t)? Find a local track and enjoy! Depending on the activity, arrange in advance to get Mom a sitter and let her have grown-ups only night. But, if it is something the whole family might enjoy, then get them involved, too! There is so much to do in most communities, from minor league baseball games to fantastic productions that going out need not be expensive, difficult, or far. And, as mentioned above, plan now to anticipate the fun later when the world reopens for business.

Breakfast/brunch out – Breakfast in bed may sound nice, but crumbs get everywhere and usually Mom ends up doing all of the dishes. This time, give Mom ample time to take a shower and beautify, and order the family takeout from a great place for breakfast/brunch. This meal is typically far less expensive than dinner and starts the day on the right foot. Then make sure to have the children do the dishes (with supervision if they aren't old enough to handle the job alone).

Romance her – Obviously a tip for the husbands of the Mom. Moms are so mired in raising the children, managing the home, work, and all the other details she is in charge, that making time for romance is scarcely done. But it is so vastly important. Once the children have given their crepe paper corsages, “spoiled mom” and gone to bed, Dad/husband/boyfriend/significant other/lover can swoop in and make Mom feel like a woman and nothing like a mom. Read up on it people, there are a lot of ways to go about it!

Mostly Mother’s Day is a day to make Moms feel completely and utterly appreciated, respected, and loved.

I’m wishing my mother, my mother-in-law, and all of the mothers out there a very Happy Mother’s Day on May 10th.

In the meantime, I hope y’all got some ideas and will implement the ones that work for you and Mom in time for her special day.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

The Historical Significance of NASCAR and Dale Earnhardt By: Candice Smith

After earth-shattering events, NASCAR has always been there in modern history to provide normalcy and a beacon of hope for America.

Leading the pack of NASCAR drivers who brought a feeling of hope, optimism, and victory to America was none other than Dale Earnhardt. On what would have been his 69th birthday, I have gathered historical events that rocked America and how watching Earnhardt’s stellar career unfold made those stressful times in America a bit more bearable. In no way am I implying the tragedies and Earnhardt’s success were related or had anything to do with one another, simply Earnhardt’s victories and Cup championships continued to occur despite national tragedies.

In Dale Earnhardt’s storied career with 76 NASCAR Cup Series race victories and seven NASCAR Cups, he had been a part of the fabric of America from the late 1970s until his death in 2001. 

As he was racing for his first career Cup in 1980, the country dealt in May with the eruption of long-dormant Mount St. Helens in Washington state. Although certainly not related in any way, it is part of a pattern that Americans looked to their passion for NASCAR and its heroes to make it through.

As 1986 dawned, the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster rocked the American space program and the country when all eyes watched live as the explosion occurred. That same year Earnhardt had a remarkable season in NASCAR winning five races and tying up the Cup one week before the season’s end.

In May of 1987, the USS Stark was fired upon during the Iran-Iraq war. That year Dale Earnhardt showed brilliance by winning 11 races his third NASCAR Cup championship, and a back-to-back one at that!

The year 1990 saw the mobilization of American troops after Iraq invaded Kuwait. Earnhardt once again had a dominate season in NASCAR and won his fourth Cup after winning nine races.

By 1991 American soldiers were participating in Operation Desert Storm to liberate Kuwait. Airstrikes began against Iraq and military families were put under enormous strains. Earnhardt raced hard, acquired four victories and another back-to-back Cup that totaled five for The Intimidator.

The first bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City occurred in January 1993. By spring of that year people tuned in daily to learn evermore about the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas while a massive snowstorm labeled “The Storm of the Century” blanketed the eastern United States “from Canada to Mexico” for three days in late March. Meanwhile, Earnhardt won six races and captured his sixth championship in NASCAR’s top series.

In 1994 the country was mesmerized and horrified by the OJ Simpson arrest for the murder of his wife. In addition, America’s favorite pastime, Major League Baseball, struck a sour note with its fans that still reverberates to the present when they went on strike. NASCAR kept powering on, collecting more fans. Earnhardt, in yet another back-to-back Cup, earned his seventh championship, tying him with the sport’s King, Richard Petty.

The loss of Dale Earnhardt, on February 18, 2001, left the sport and the country reeling. A seemingly indestructible sports hero was fallen in what looked like a benign accident at first. The news of Earnhardt’s death sent a tremor felt within NASCAR, the country, and around the globe.

True to form, NASCAR went on with the next scheduled race a week later held at the North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham. The winner of that race was Dale Earnhardt Inc. driver Steve Parks.

In July of 2001 Dale Earnhardt Jr. drove his DEI-backed No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo to victory at the track his father had perished five months before.

Then the unthinkable happened on September 11, 2001. And the world changed.

But NASCAR was there for America. After the attacks on September 11, 2001, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. drove his No. 8 to victory lane at Dover Downs International Speedway and then drove his victory laps waving an enormous American flag. The crowd wept with every emotion they had been feeling since the attacks had occurred, and since Earnhardt's death. It was a form of healing. It offered hope.

Another victory awaited Earnhardt Jr. in October 2001 at Talladega.

Fast forward to 2020. Now there is a global pandemic that has kept NASCAR’s engines silent for six weeks and counting. The iRacing with Earnhardt, Jr. and other NASCAR drivers and drivers from other series is filling a void, but unable to quench the thirst of America’s collective need of live NASCAR racing.

It has been nearly two decades since we lost Dale. For many it still feels like yesterday. And Dale Earnhardt, Jr. retired from NASCAR’s Cup series at the end of the 2017 season, yet there are still many heroes on the track.

As we remember Dale Earnhardt on his birthday, let us honor him and his greatness by bringing the engines roaring back to life! If history has taught us anything, it is that healing begins with the normalcy, excitement, and greatness that NASCAR provides.

Let’s do it for Dale.  

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Happy Birthday, Davey Allison

If you are a longtime NASCAR fan you undoubtedly know the name Allison. Bobby Allison was inducted to the second class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2011 and he and brother Donnie were two of the original “Alabama Gang”. 

Bobby had two sons, Davey and Clifford, who were following in their dad’s tire tracks. Unfortunately, tragedy struck twice in the Allison family. First, fate claimed Clifford on August 13, 1992 at Michigan International Speedway during practice for the Detroit Gasket 200 in the NASCAR Busch Series. Injuries sustained on the track took the young Allison’s life. Within a year, on July 12, 1993, while piloting his helicopter to Talladega to take part in the race, Davey Allison crashed and perished.

As a mother, I cannot imagine the unbreakable sadness that would grip me losing not just one but also two of my sons. The enormity would be too much for me to bear. And then, as an extra cruel twist of fate, having the death dates less than a year apart and at the same time of the month would simply do me in. Bobby, having dealt with his own tragic career-ending crash, was dealt the most unfair of hands, and yet, to this day, is still a great ambassador for NASCAR. He does what most of us take for granted; he gets up each morning and breathes. For those of you who have lived through tragedy and adversity, you know how difficult that one activity can be.

The Allisons were a dynasty in NASCAR; a racing family that was supposed to endure through the generations. Davey and younger brother Clifford were talented and good and primed to be the next generation of the “Alabama Gang”. Davey, several times, was a breath away from sitting at the lead table at the Waldorf Astoria. Many have pondered, “What if Davey lived” scenarios that include “would Dale Earnhardt have won as many Cups?” No one will ever know.

February 25, 2020 marks what would have been Davey Allison’s fifty-ninth birthday.  As a fan in Davey’s heyday, it is hard for me to wrap my brain around that.  It was important for me to bring Davey’s name back to the forefront for a moment. I’m sure Bobby hasn’t forgotten; I just wanted him to know, I haven’t forgotten either.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

The Marriage Story By: Candice Smith

While recovering from a New Year’s illness last week, I had a block of time to watch something on Netflix. With no children around to curb what I’d watch, I chose a drama that seemed riveting to me. A Marriage Story was the name and it stars Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, Laura Dern, Ray Liotta, and Alan Alda among others. I felt I couldn’t go wrong. I knew the premise of the movie – a couple was in the process of a divorce – but felt certain there would be a happier ending as the title is A Marriage Story.

I was wrong.

Spoiler Alert, but you probably don’t need one like I did. The couple DO divorce. I was incensed.


Because I’m absolutely tired, fed up, and over movies where the couple disintegrates. Where love is lost – obliterated even – and dies. Where the couple most move on from one another to find happiness.


Listen, I’m NOT a Pollyanna, but I’m a sucker for a Happy Ending.

In the decade or two (three?), I cannot think of many or ANY movies where a couple falls in love, struggles, and then STAYS TOGETHER better for the journey.

Ryan and Candice Smith
January 9, 1993

Let me offer a personal backstory:  my husband and I are celebrating our 27th wedding anniversary on January 9th. It’s a big number for any couple, but especially since I am 47 and he 50. In fact, we’ve actually been together since I was 14 and he 17. So, Happy Endings mean a lot to him and me.

Realizing that many marriages end in divorce is a fact I’ve lived with my entire life. My husband and I have had great marriage models in our parents and grandparents – all married for over fifty years. But my brothers are both divorced, friends from all parts of our lives are divorced. It’s an epidemic.

Whereas I understand Art has a duty to show divorce for those going through it to understand they are not alone, where is that for couples who want to sustain?

Disney has even done away with “classic” fairy tale endings. Apparently having our daughters believe being a Princess is fine, but in no way should she ever love or have faith in a Prince.

Great, what message does that send our sons?

I am a mother of two sons and one daughter. I have a vested interest in raising both sexes to the light. To show them a world that allows them to be the best they can be, AND to learn to love unabashedly so when they choose a mate, they can defy the odds and collect years upon years of wedding anniversaries like their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents.

But what if their future-spouses aren’t raised that way? Then what?

Perhaps an over-simplification, but I think today’s youth – Hell, today’s Society – NEEDS romantic movies, books, and media where the couple STICKS TOGETHER. Where the relationship is held in high esteem, is WORTH WORKING ON, and is a source of COMFORT, not a death knell to happiness.

Marriage is worth the time, the commitment, and the work. Yes, work. It is HARD WORK to make a marriage last. It’s NOT easy. But it can be so worthwhile.

Should every marriage last? No, not in my opinion. Surprised? Don’t be. I know some marriages are toxic, unhealthy to both. Sometimes addiction, abuse, and culture are insurmountable. I believe those people need to be let go of their vows and find health and happiness apart.

But, for most of us, if marriage is entered, it should be the priority for a lifetime. With children, it is a necessity.

My cousin married her love yesterday. She was a beautiful bride and he a handsome groom. They are educated, are gainfully employed, and seem to be blissfully in love. The bride’s parents have been happily married for over thirty years.

But I worry. Is she equipped with the tools to stick with the marriage when it doesn’t seem fun? When romance wains, financial crisis hits, or children invade the status quo, will they dig in and work hard, or secure lawyers to get out? Does he have a marriage model or are his folks apart?

I am an optimistic person who, frankly, loves love, but this movie A Marriage Story truly rattled me. I wish the beautiful couple well and pray they make it.

As for my husband and me, our lives are NOT perfect. Far from it. We fight, we argue, we face uncertainties, we are living a fast-paced life. We bring insecurities to the table daily, and we continue to evolve. The marriage has taken a beating in the nearly three decades since we said our vows. But it still has a strong heartbeat. There is love, passion, and compassion.

A few days ago I worried about what to gift my husband for our 27th Anniversary. Money is tight. He likes experiences more than things in this stage in his life. I’m not so creative that way.

What I’m giving him is this, my staunch defense of Marriage. The knowledge that no matter how badly he screws up, I love him and will stand by him. And, conversely, that no matter how badly I screw up, I hope he will continue to love me as fervently as he has for these last 33 years.

I love my husband and cannot imagine a world without him. This is our Marriage Story. It stars Ryan and Candice Smith, not Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson. It ends with a marriage intact, not another couple divorced.

We may not be headliners, superstars, or in the majority, but we’ll stay married against the odds.

Happy Anniversary, Honey. I love you always and forever. I hope you liked the experience so far.