YAKIMA, Wash. -- What to do if you’ve been out dancing with friends and they head to a friend’s house — someone you want to get to know better — in the wee hours of the morning to serenade her for her birthday?
You tag along, of course.
Audel Ramirez was among a group of enthusiastic night owls who serenaded Isabel Garcia for her birthday around 2 a.m. on Feb. 1, 2013. The couple married on the beach at Lo De Marcos, Mexico on July 12, 2017.
“They were trying to be a mariachi and sing the traditional Mexican birthday song, wearing silly hats and playing the guitar (not Audel),” Isabel said. “Audel can’t sing, but he managed to come into my house with the group and had hot cocoa to warm up on a freezing February morning.”
While their day jobs are for different organizations — Isabel is executive director of Yakima Valley Partners Habitat for Humanity; Audel is a loan processing officer for Central Valley Bank, a role that involves helping nonprofits with mortgages — you’ll see them at many Habitat happenings, not only fundraisers but also build sites and related events.
Isabel and Audel have a great collective sense of humor; you’ll find that in their answers to our questions. And if you know them, you see it when they’re together.
How did you meet?
Isabel: On my birthday, I was invited by our mutual friend musician Sandra to Gasperetti’s, where she was playing for the night. During her show I noticed this handsome gentleman coming into the restaurant who sat across the room from our table. Sandra introduced us, and I felt firework sparks!
After I left, she invited Audel to a pre-planned serenade by Sandra, colleagues, my daughter and friends at my home after salsa dancing at the Seasons. It was a freezing February early morning, and everyone was invited to keep singing inside.
Audel: I should never sing out loud, but I am glad that I took that chance that night and accompanied my friends to Isabel’s house.
Tell us about that first date — when, where and how it went.
Isabel: After our initial meeting, we would see each other at different gatherings; however, we lost touch for a couple of years and then reconnected through Facebook.
In early spring 2014, after talking on the phone in endless hours of interesting conversations and music sharing for a few weeks, we decided to meet at Bill’s after work for a drink and dinner.
Audel: We had a great conversation. There was definitely chemistry and a lot of saucy housing and finance talk. Then I walked Isabel to her pickup truck.
How do you make your relationship work?
Audel: We laugh a lot; we value each other’s strengths and complement each other’s weaknesses. We discuss things openly and honestly. We make decisions as equals and compromise through looooooong and patient negotiations.
Isabel: We remind each other how much we love one another and respect our differences. We have a great sense of humor, laugh at each other and are unafraid to share our point of view and be ourselves at all times. It is not about who wins, it is about what is best for our family.
What is the best and worst relationship advice you’ve received?
Audel: The best advice I ever received was love yourself and be happy alone. So that when you meet someone special you will have happiness and love to share with them. The worst advice was, marry for money, who cares how you feel about the other person.
Isabel: The best advice I ever received was don’t go to bed mad at each other; you still have to share the same sheets. Kiss each other good night, every night. The worst advice was to be submissive (to your husband). If your husband is seeing red and you see green, agree with him. Ahh! No!
What relationship advice you would offer?
Don’t try to change your partner or yourself. If there are so many differences between two people, it may not be meant to be. There is always someone else out there who will love, respect and accept you for who you are.
Any inspirational couples?
Jesus and Margarita Ramirez, Audel’s grandparents. They had 11 children — seven boys, four girls — 53 grandchildren and 80 great-grandchildren and were married 62 years. They knew everyone’s name and had a connection with all their descendants. We all learned to love by their example as the patriarchs of our family, a love that remains strong until this day.
Not a week goes by that we don’t talk to each other or get together as a family, no matter distance or time. My grandfather’s favorite saying was, “Que no se seque la raiz.” Don’t let the root dry up.