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Born With a Rusty Spoon: Episode 76

..."I'm Mike Marah, what's your name?" He had a very distinctive voice that reminded me of Willie Nelson, one of my favorite singers. With that we started a conversation...

Bertie Stroup Marah tells of falling in love again.

I had lived with my folks for about a year, when I decided it was time to get on with my life. I was forty-three years old and twenty-four years of marriage had not prepared me for the single life. I prayed hard for someone with whom to share my life and on April Fool's Day 1983 my prayers were answered.

I had finished hanging my one-woman art exhibit of mostly landscapes, animals, and florals in the old Cafe Caravan Dinner Club in Grand Junction. It was late afternoon and the place was virtually empty. I ordered a beer at the bar and waited; my attention on the list I'd made of paintings in the show. I didn't notice the man sitting at the end of the bar until he said very politely, "Can I buy you a beer?"

He looked harmless enough, so I shrugged. "Yeah, I suppose so." With that bit of encouragement, he slid off his bar stool and walked over to introduce himself.

"I'm Mike Marah, what's your name?" He had a very distinctive voice that reminded me of Willie Nelson, one of my favorite singers. With that we started a conversation. I learned he had just gotten out of a brief but bad marriage and that he was in the earth moving business. When the band began their first set, he asked me to dance. I was delighted to discover that he was a good dancer and possessed a great sense of humor. We danced and laughed the night away. He called me the next morning to thank me for the nice evening and he asked if he could see me again.

For me it wasn't love at first sight and I'm glad of that. My affection grew as we continued to date. In the end, I could trust my judgment and my emotions. His straightforward honesty was very appealing. Within a couple months, my admiration had turned to trust, then love that deepened with the passage of time.

Mike made it clear that he intended to take care of me and protect me from anyone and anything. For the first time in my life I felt safe.

Mike was born and reared in Colorado, and his home is Cedaredge, where much of his family lives to this day. Mike has always been a hard worker and is honest to the point of bluntness. He has become my best art critic with accurate observations. At times, to spare my feelings, I might have preferred a little finesse, but it's rare to find someone who refuses to sugarcoat the truth.

A year after being with Mike my depression lifted and I was able to stop taking antidepressants. He helped me meet the illness head on. He encouraged me to pay more attention to my health and discouraged me from involving myself in the problems of others. My folks were saddened when I left them to move in with Mike, but they were grateful that I had found someone who loved me and was dedicated to my happiness and well being. We would marry the following year on February 27, 1984.

For a couple summers we lived in Durango. I was free to spend time exploring the mountains and enjoy scenery. It was especially exhilarating in the autumn, when the oaks turn every shade of brown, red and purple, and the aspens glow golden. The scenic region along with Durango's historic buildings, were also conducive to painting.
The Gallery that handled my work commissioned me to paint their landmark building as it may have appeared in the 1800s, when teams of horses and buggies traveled the streets. I enjoyed the challenge and turned out a nice painting.


To buy a copy of Bertie's wonderful book please visit

To see some of her pictures click on


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