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Do You Remember?


By Michael Aun


I can remember the day when I decided to marry a young lady named Christine Marie Thiel. It was April 16, 1972. I saw her from a distance in her father’s plant site, State Machinery in West Columbia, SC. I was enamored with her instantly.

I turned to a co-worker and said, “I will marry that girl one day.” His response, “You don’t even know her.” Still, I remember it like it was yesterday.

Do you remember when you first fell in love? Do you remember when you first committed to someone? Later that same year, I asked her to marry me. I remember the exact place and the precise time. It was a Midnight Mass over the Sign of Peace at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Columbia, SC when I posed the question.

I also bitterly remember her mom and dad’s reaction an hour later as we celebrated our engagement. “It will never last!” they proclaimed. “We’re very disappointed in both of you.” 

That was the shortest motivational speech I ever heard in my entire life. 

Christine had to finish Nursing School, so it would be two years later before we would finally tie the knot. Again, I remember it like it was yesterday. How could I forget? We got married in the men’s room of the Cold Stream Country Club in Irmo, SC  on July 6, 1974.

It was supposed to take place on the 18th green but God figured the grass needed the deluge more than we needed the green… so it was moved inside to the men’s locker room as the main chamber was set for the reception.

I think I can safely say we are the only couple in the history of the world to get married in a men’s room. With that as a backdrop, here we are 45 years later, still together and still in love. 

We just celebrated our anniversary on July 6.  I know I am not the lover I once was, but I am more in love than I ever was. This is how one feels when one clearly knows he has “over married.”

I remember lots of little things. I remember my first real loss was the death of my grandfather Elias S. Mack, Sr. at the age of 60. I was ten years old and was not allowed to go to his funeral. Children were not allowed at funerals in those days and I remember that broke my heart.

I remember how rotten I felt that I could not say goodbye to my mentor and how I would never deny a child of mine that opportunity. Eli Mack taught me many things, but one I still use every day is to journal my thoughts. I have over 250 of these journals today.

Jiddy (Lebanese for grandfather) would point to his head and say, “This is not a filing cabinet. Write things down. What you put in your journal is what will make it valuable.”

I can remember the next greatest loss in my life. It was my 35th birthday and the obnoxious disease of cancer took my mom’s life. She was a remarkable 60-year old woman who brought 11 children into this world after losing her first three in childbirth. Those siblings would have likely survived with today’s medicine. 

I remember all the victories and all the defeats. I remember winning the World Championship of Public Speaking in 1978 in Vancouver, British Columbia for Toastmasters International.

I also remember losing it the year before in Toronto, Ontario because I went eight seconds over my allotted time limit and was disqualified.  I remember thinking one must go through Toronto to get to Vancouver.

I remember the stinging defeat when I ran for the House of Representatives in 1980. As Mark Twain once remarked:  “I don’t belong to any organized political party… I’m a Democrat.”

I remember dozens of other wins and losses over my life. I learned from all of them. It is the lessons taught and applied that is the key.

Michael Aun, CSP®, CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame® earned the Certified Speaking Professional designation in 1981, one of fewer than 150 speakers in the world at that time.