Last night at dinner, A-Grape asked “Mama, can you tell us your love story?”
Dr. P. and I met at a young adult Bible study in the church where he grew up, and where I was attending during college. Dr. P. was not currently living at his parents’ home, so he was just visiting for a couple of weeks. He had a job traveling to schools to teach study skills to high school students.
When he introduced himself to me, sitting across the table of the Bible study, I initially thought he was his brother, with whom I’d attended Sunday school classes and birthday parties growing up. I had no idea that Dr. P’s younger brother even HAD an older brother.
After Bible study, Dr. P. asked me to go out to Friendly’s for coffee and French fries, and I refused as I had a maternity nursing exam the next day.
He teased, saying “Oh come on. You know you’ll fine. Just come out for an hour.”
I saw his little red sports car, so I caved.
Later that same week he called asking to go on a dinner date. We went. At that point, Dr. P. knew he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me, and he told me so. I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with this guy, too, but there was no way I was ready to tell him that.
I waited a respectable 3 months. *wink*
Later in May, we both attended the super special wedding of my life long friend.
He caught the garter.
I caught the bouquet.
That seals a deal, right?
Nearly our entire courtship/dating period took place long distance. Dr. P. was either establishing state residency for tuition purposes in Georgia, or he was in graduate school at the University of Georgia in Athens, GA. I was in Connecticut finishing my undergraduate degree in nursing. We saw each other in person only on school breaks and through the summers of 1989 and 1990.
The rest took place via handwritten letters (gasp!) and through weekly, one hour, Sunday night phone calls.
Intentional communication built a successful and long lasting relationship.
A year later, on the anniversary of our first real date, 3/18/1989, Dr. P. took me ring shopping.
It was all a ruse. <smile>
He’d had the ring for quite a while.
Later that night he proposed. I accepted.
We called all our family that weekend, except that they all knew. I was the last to know that Dr. P. was proposing. He’d asked my Dad’s permission at Christmas time.
We saved our news to tell in person to one person…my great-grandmother, Helen Mears.
We used to visit her in her nursing home. She really liked Dr. P. She said he reminded her of my late great-grandfather, Grandpa George. Dr. P. was kind and gentle with her, like Grandpa. He snuck in Friendly’s Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup snack sized sundaes for her during our visits.
Later in June, when Peter was in CT for the summer, we visited her and let her know our plans. Nana had a hard time finding joy in her life after Grandpa died. She was thrilled to find out that we got engaged within a day or two of her own wedding anniversary. She told me I’d “gotten” a good man, one like Grandpa.
She smiled and talked a lot that day, sharing stories of life with Grandpa.
On this anniversary of our dating and engagement, I smile, thinking of the memories of sharing our engagement with Nana.
It was as though we had a special connection sharing our date with her and Grandpa.
We planned our wedding for August 25, 1990, after other priorities were done, like my college graduation in May of 1990, Dr P’s brother’s graduation from the Air Force Academy, and I took nursing boards in July, 1990.
We were married on August 25, 1990.
After our honeymoon, we moved to our first home together, a 2 room apartment in married family housing at the University of Georgia, in Athens, GA.
We have lived in six homes in three states, and had six children.
We’ve had job losses, family losses, and accidents and health scares.
We’ve traveled many miles to be with family, rather than taking vacations.
We’ve had baptisms, birthdays, and formed our own family holiday traditions.
This summer we’ll celebrate 15 years of successful homeschooling with the graduations of our two oldest children.
Our current home, buried in snow or not, is where we intend to welcome our children’s spouses and our grandchildren.
And where we hope to celebrate 75 years of marriage.
We have been blessed.
Looking forward to more to come…
I love you, Dr. P. There is no one else with whom I’d rather share this crazy life.
And, as A-Grape just said as she reads over my typing shoulder…
“Ahhh. Love stories.”