Hospital wedding endures in sickness and in health for 50 years (Video)

April 29, 2012 at 10:04 p.m.
Updated April 29, 2012 at 11:30 p.m.

Proving that love lasts forever, Darrell Jaynes leans over and gives a smooch to his wife of 50 years. Darrell and Linda Jaynes are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary Monday.

Proving that love lasts forever, Darrell Jaynes leans over and gives a smooch to his wife of 50 years. Darrell and Linda Jaynes are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary Monday.   Frank Tilley for The Victoria Advocate

Two days before he was to marry his sweetheart, Darrell Jaynes doubled over in pain.

It was 1962, and Darrell's lifelong friend - his best man-to-be - rushed him to DeTar Hospital, where doctors told him his left lung had collapsed.

"My best man said, 'You ain't gonna get out of it,' " Darrell recalled, smiling.

Of course he wasn't. His fiancée, Linda, was just as enamored with the tall, hunky 28-year-old as he was with her.

Three days after they canceled their wedding - with no recovery in sight - the Victoria couple decided they'd just have to exchange eternal vows where life had led them - the waiting room of DeTar Hospital.

She put on her white dress, he his suit, and the guests gathered to cut the cake - all of the fanfare you'd expect anywhere but a hospital.

The Victoria Advocate was there to capture the unlikely union. The Jayneses have kept the newspaper clipping - along with their vows - and 50 years later, on Monday, they celebrate their anniversary.

"Don't you want to know how we met?" Darrell asked with schoolboy giddiness.

Darrell had just left his job as a taxi driver, he explained, and the morning sun beamed on the bus station in downtown Victoria. He happened to look up, and like a scene from a movie, spotted Linda.

"I'm going to marry that woman one day," he said he thought. "Two years later, after chasing her and her chasing me, she caught me."

"Who did the chasing?" Linda countered.

While Linda admits that Darrell is a "stinker," she doesn't mind. Linda says she's one too.

While he may have fallen for her at first glance, she said she fell in love with him over coffee, conversation, and just acting silly. That, and he wouldn't go away.

"He's just a sweet person," Linda, now 69, said. "He still is, or he can be."

The health problems that launched their matrimony weren't the only obstacles the couple has faced. They talk about their struggles openly and endearingly, and always sprinkled with a few laughs.

Around their 25th anniversary, Linda told her husband she wanted to renew their vows.

"I said, 'Why do you want me to make the same mistake twice?' " Darrell, now 78, recalled. "She was red hot."

In her anger, Linda told him she wanted a divorce, which he, completely in character, took in jest.

Their front-porch swing has been the site of plenty of marital feuds turned truces, Linda said. Simply talking about and listening to each other's grievances on that swing has been enough to keep the couple happy - eventually, at least - over the years.

Not long after their 25th anniversary blow-up, Darrell would be hospitalized again, this time because of the overwhelming stress of trying to support a wife and four kids with mediocre job prospects.

As it goes with the "in sickness and in health" vows - which the Jayneses knew more about than most on their wedding day - Linda carried him through.

"You know, when you've got the best, the rest are just the rest, so you take care of what you have," Linda said. "That's exactly how I feel, even today - how glad I am that I still have him"

In more recent years, Darrell has had eye troubles that prevent him from building dog houses and rabbit cages - a hobby and livelihood that lifted him out of his stress-induced stint in the hospital.

Linda noticeably aches for her husband when he talks about how he misses building those cages.

"Without her, I wouldn't be here," he said, staring at nothing.

His hurt eyes puffy with tears, Darrell said he's been thinking too much lately.

But with seven grandchildren and one great-grandson - not to mention his bride - life has been good to him.

As fate would have it, the waiting room in which the couple wed is now the chapel at DeTar Hospital Navarro.

"We just happened to meet at a corner of our lives, and we were meant to be together for the rest of it. That's the finality I could give this situation," Darrell said.

"Does that mean you're taking me to supper tonight?" Linda asked.

"Yeah, we'll go to dinner, for sure."



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