Flo refers to her initial meeting with Doyce English as a “God thing.” They met. They fell in love. Instantly. They spent eleven months dating and getting to know one another, even though they felt they saw all the way to one another’s souls when they exchanged the first hello. They told their families they intended to marry. One or two eyebrows lifted skyward at the news, with a handful of naysayers insisting the union was doomed to failure. After all, they said, what could a 15-year-old girl and a 17-year-old boy know about love and marriage commitments? “We were married 66 years,” Flo chuckled. “I was one of 12 children, so I figured my mother was happy to sign for me! “Doyce was working construction by the time he was 14, and I dropped out of high school when we married.
Of course, back then, those decisions weren’t all that uncommon.” Flo is 82 today and still maintains her home in Potosi, a small town outside Abilene. She also spends a generous share of time visiting her four children, including daughter Sherry Richardson and her husband J.R. in Argyle. “Sherry and J.R. have a boat and easy access to Lake Lewisville,” Flo explained. “That makes visiting them during the summer especially nice since I love to water ski and free style body surf. With the surfing, I just hold a rope and the boat pulls my body across the water.” Yes, you read correctly. Flo, an 82-year-old woman, water skis and body surfs.
The revelation surprises most people. “I’ve always been independent,” Flo admitted, “and I’ve always been busy from the time I get out of bed until I go to sleep in the evening. I never had a job outside the home and taking care of our children. I was there when they left for school, and I was there when they got home “Our first son was born two years after we were married. We had a total of four, two boys and two girls, over 13 years. Our oldest graduated high school when our youngest started kindergarten.” Flo insists her kids are as much of a “God-thing” as her meeting with Doyce. “I’m so thankful for them,” she said. “I don’t like to refer to their husbands and wives as ‘in-laws’ because I think of them as family. “We were always close-knit, and we always kept God in our lives.
I look back at some of the things we did – things such as taking a family vacation every year – and wonder how in the world we did it. A lot of families with two incomes can’t do that today. “Our modern world is very different. We’re all so busy. All the time. Sometimes we don’t even realize how busy we are, and we have no idea how to get ‘unbusy.’” Most of us think of the life Flo describes as the “old-timey housewife” scenario. Yet, as she noted earlier, she was an independent woman, and that didn’t bother Doyce one bit. “I’ve always enjoyed friends and Doyce encouraged me to spend time with them. I can honestly say I’ve never done anything I didn’t want to do.”
July marks one year since Doyce left the earth. How’s that been for Flo? Her voice drops a little when she answers. “It’s been hard. We never fell out of love, and we weren’t shy about telling one another how we felt. I’ve learned how to do some things since he’s been gone. He never let me take out the trash, but I do now. I loved helping him in the yard. Now, I try to keep up with all of it on my own. “I know I do things my kids wish I wouldn’t, and I also know they’ll do anything I ask. That independent streak just makes me not want to ask! I’m in great health, and I intend to water ski and surf as long as Sherry and J.R. take me. “You know what I really am? I am blessed, blessed, blessed!” Really? What else would you expect from a life created in heaven?