'My First True Love' They were long separated when he died, but Rebia Mixon-Clay still cherishes fond memories of her first husband. Like the time she came home to discover wedding and engagement rings on the bedroom dresser.

'My First True Love'

Rebia Mixon-Clay told her story at a StoryCorps booth in Chicago. StoryCorps hide caption

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Rebia Mixon-Clay told her story at a StoryCorps booth in Chicago.


Rebia Mixon-Clay was pregnant when she met her first husband, Frank Mixon. He saw her, walked over and said, "You're going to be my wife." A year later, they went down to city hall and got married.

"We had no rings," Mixon-Clay says. "He tried to give me his class ring, a big ugly thing to put on my finger."

Then she came home one day to find a note on the back of the door. Go in the bedroom and look on the dresser, the note said.

There she found a box, with a beautiful wedding ring and engagement ring inside. She grabbed the rings and ran out of the house.

"I knew where he hung out at. And when he saw me coming, he said, 'Did you find them?'"

"And I was like, 'Yeah.' And I was shaking and stuff like I had just met him. And I handed him the rings, and he got down on one knee. He said, 'Would you be my wife, really be my wife?' And I said, 'Yeah.'"

Whatever she would fix for dinner was fine with him.

"He made me feel like it was magnificent," she says. "I mean, if I burned popcorn, it was the best, you know. That was the kind of guy he was."

After 17 years of marriage, they separated and he moved to Michigan.

Frank Mixon got into an altercation. "They say that this woman was a damsel in distress," Mixon-Clay says. "And Frank was helping her. And the woman's boyfriend shot him in the back."

She had her fourth child with Frank Mixon.

"He's exactly like his father — exactly," she says. "He never talks above a whisper. He's always happy and laughing. He's the gentleman of all gentlemen.

"And even my other three kids are like that because they had him. My oldest son, he'll tell you, 'My biological father's name is so and so, but my daddy's name is Frank Mixon.'"

"Out of all the years that we were separated, I still remember Frank Mixon because I honestly believe he was my first true love."

Mixon-Clay recorded her interview as part of StoryCorps Griot, an initiative that travels the country collecting the recollections of black Americans. This segment was produced for Morning Edition by Michael Garofalo.