"You have to come meet this girl at my church," my husband's best friend told him one day many years ago. "She is the female version of you."
According to Robert, he came and we were introduced, though I don't recall that first conversation.
The second conversation, however, got my attention.
I rode my ten speed to the store. As I was leaving, he was on the pay phone--if you can remember those.
"Hey!" he called to me, "don't we go to church together?"
He had caught my eye by then, and I was glad to confirm that we did, indeed, attend the same church. He said he had been going to Union University, but had just transferred to Memphis because his dad's cancer had returned. When he wasn't running the family trucking business, he was part of a prison ministry. I was impressed--which he later confessed to be his goal.
As I pedaled away, I said a little prayer about that guy on the payphone.
Soon after, his dad's illness took a turn for the worse. While other friends from church visited the hospital to show their support, I kept my distance, afraid of sending the wrong message since I barely knew him. His dad was in ICU for over a month before he passed away. I regret that I never did meet him.
After his father's death, Robert stepped up to the plate-- going to school full time, hauling cotton samples across the country to keep the family trucking business going, and trying to be there for his mom through her grief. He was 19 years old.
For the next six months, I watched; I waited. Occasionally I would catch a glimpse of him at church. He was always late, coming in off the road from delivering samples to customers. He later told me he sometimes ate raw coffee right out of the can to stay awake. Though he hardly made it to class that year, he still kept his GPA up.
One spring morning as I was leaving class, I remembered him mentioning he met a friend at the library every day to give her a ride home. Clearly the opportunity to speed things up had presented itself. I moseyed on over to the library.
I soon heard a familiar voice. "Hey, Margie! What are you doing here? Hey, we were just about to go to lunch; want to come along?"
"As a matter of fact, I do." I later confessed that was my goal.
Within a few weeks, he asked me to dinner. The friendship grew and six months later, we were engaged--which was my ultimate goal.
"You and Dad make it look so easy," Bethany said not long ago. When you love each other, you keep a common goal, I told her.
Today we celebrate twenty seven-years. In some ways our life together has been a series of changes--we have lived in five states, for instance. But because we have ten kids, we are still changing diapers after all these years.
Happy anniversary, Captain Fun. I would do it all over again with you.
And that will never change.