I was 19, he was 21. We officially met at a Risk game. He says that I came into the room, took my place and said to the rest of the players, "I'm taking the pink armies and I'm beating you all," and he was smitten.
I don't quite remember it that way, but I do remember an enjoyable night playing Risk. I noticed that tall young man and saw that he was personable, a good sport, and that he was taking a look at me, too.
When my friend who'd picked me up from school and driven me to the game said he had a meeting to get to early the next morning, the tall young man offered to take me back to Biola. So we set off in his little Toyota Corolla. We talked and talked all the way.
"You don't have a boyfriend?" he asked.
"Um, no. I've never had a boyfriend."
"How can that be?"
This, of course, pleased me inordinately. He asked me for my phone number and then, when he dropped me off at my dorm, opened the door for me, and I was smitten.
Then, upon waiting an appropriate amount of time, he called two days later and asked me on a date. A real date! A little while later I received my first kiss. Those dates continued for another two-and-a-half years. And finally, with graduation six months away, on my 22nd birthday, he asked me to be his wife.
He put my engagement ring in an ice cube and the waiter brought my water with the ice cube in it and pointed down, "Look, that ice cube is floating to the bottom."
This tall man, the love of my life, was so nervous that I would swallow the ice cube or wouldn't notice what was there, but I did notice. I saw the tell-tale sign of a gold band. I'd clued into the many hints along the way that evening. I knew what it was!
We sat at our table at the restaurant, happy idiots, watching the ice cube melt away from the ring. Then, he went to his knees and asked me to marry him.
I said, "YES!" and because I really didn't want that moment to end, added, "Now, ask me again."
And he did and I said "yes!" again, and we laughed and cried. He was so relieved and could finally eat the food I'd ordered. This worked out just fine, because I was too excited to eat.
We got married on a beautiful July morning at 11:00. It was a simple wedding. He wanted lots of flowers. I wanted the wedding colors to be peach and gray and I wanted him to wear a black tux with tails. He held my trembling hands steadily in his own while we said our vows.
When the wedding and reception wrapped up, we decided it had been the most wonderful wedding ever! We went off in his brand new Toyota truck, with trailing cans and whipped cream on the windows. However, we couldn't go off to the airport for our honeymoon yet! We had to go buy some hiking boots for our honeymoon! Wearing our get-away clothes, we marched into REI to find hiking boots. What a strange sight we must have been.
After that, we were hungry! So we went to Sizzler where four of our wedding guests, including my maid of honor, happened to be eating lunch, so we joined them and basked in the fellowship before heading off to the airport.
We flew using his work passes -- the first time I could fly free as the wife of an air line employee. Back then, one could fly standby and be pretty much assured a seat every time, and often get first class to boot. This time was no exception. We flew in style and even received a Newlyweds' complimentary bottle of champagne. With rings shining and glasses fizzing, we toasted our new life together.
Now, 19 years later, our rings aren't quite so shiny. In fact, his ring is practically molded to his skin (he's never taken it off), and mine is worn at the bottom from many dishes. We've gained a few (clearing of throat, here) pounds. He needs bifocals and I need glasses to read fine print. We look at seven children -- how did they get here, anyway? And we marvel . . .
Where did the time go? We can't possibly be married nearly two decades? OLD PEOPLE are married that long, not us! Yet the calendar does not lie. As gray hair gains speed on the dark hair and bones creak and eyes squint, we marvel at the blessing of marriage.
Thank you, Keith, for 19 years of being my dearest friend and love.