As the highest awarded country music singer, a devoted wife, and mother to six children, you would be forgiven for thinking that Loretta Lynn has it all.
The now 89-year-old has been nominated 18 times for a Grammy and won three. She was also married to the same man for 48 years but has revealed in her biography and in interviews that it was “one of the hardest love stories.”
She met talent manager Oliver Vanetta Lynn Jr., commonly known as Doolittle Lynn when she was a teenager and a month later married him in 1948 when he was 22 and she was just 16 years old.
Loretta was utterly devoted to this man despite his constant cheating, something not all women would forgive.
The country music legend has gifted fans with her talent for over 60 years and at 89 years old is still producing music, releasing her 50th studio album “Still Woman Enough,” in March last year. Fans were left heartbroken when she was forced to cancel her tour in 2017 due to health issues, yet this lady still bounced back, a testimony to her determination to succeed.
She has seemingly put the same drive and determination into her marriage, despite being wed to a man who constantly cheated on her. In her 2002 autobiography Still Woman Enough, she revealed that ‘Doo’ had frequently cheated on her and once left her while she was giving birth.
The two had met at an auction over pie and Doo was immediately drawn to the beautiful brunette so they didn’t waste much time tying the knot, but even after they were newlyweds he sent her back to her parents’ house so he could woo other women.
His drinking was a problem in their relationship, it led to physical fights between the two.
“Every time Doo smacked me, he got smacked twice,” Loretta said. During one fight, she emptied a skillet of creamed corn over her husband’s head. Another time she struck him: “I heard teeth hittin’ the floor and thought, ‘Ooh, I’m dead. He not gonna put up with this.’ But he laughed.”
When asked why she didn’t leave him Loretta maintained her love for him and that she had six children to consider.
“I put up with it because of six kids,” she once explained.
Country singer Loretta Lynn and her husband at a soiree in circa 1976. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
She also credited her husband with her career as he believed in her, even buying Loretta her first guitar, a $17 purchase from Sears.
In one of her autobiographies, she recalled:
”I married Doo when I wasn’t but a child, and he was my life from that day on. But as important as my youth and upbringing was, there’s something else that made me stick to Doo. He thought I was something special, more special than anyone else in the world, and never let me forget it. That belief would be hard to shove out the door. Doo was my security, my safety net,” she said and continued:
“And just remember, I’m explainin’, not excusin’… Doo was a good man and a hard worker. But he was an alcoholic, and it affected our marriage all the way through.”
But Loretta said without Doo she would never have even sung in front of anybody as she was so shy.
Born in the coal-mining hills of Kentucky as the eldest daughter of 8 children the singer was raised in abject poverty with her mother having to use newspaper as wallpaper to keep the cold out of their tiny cabin.
She met her husband and thought she had found her happy ever after but he would never settle for the beautiful and talented woman he’d married, he always wanted more.
She dealt with heartbreak after heartbreak, violence, and rejection but she never gave up and even channeled her feelings into her music, stating she never wrote a song without including her husband with her lyrics charting his affairs and even the time she attacked another woman who was interfering in their marriage.
According to her: “If you can’t fight for your man, he’s not worth having.”
Not only did Loretta have to deal with her philandering husband but also suffered the heartache of two miscarriages. She was a mom to four children by the time she was 25 and in 1963, when she thought she was done with childbearing, she fell pregnant with twin girls.
Loretta stayed in her marriage until Doolittle died in 1996 at the age of 69. The loss was hard to bear, and her kids thought she would never recover from it.
“Three days after my husband died, I left Hurricane Mills and come to Nashville,” she said in an interview in 2000. “After bein’ here awhile, I said to a friend of mine, ‘It seems like I been here a couple months already.’ And she said, ‘You been here a year.’”
Thankfully, she has been able to pick up the pieces and is now focused on caring for and supporting her family, including her six children and three grandchildren, while still making music.
It’s hard to imagine staying with a husband like Loretta’s but her devotion to this one man is admirable. Please share this woman’s incredible story with all the country fans you know.