I’m Sure Glad That I Did
Today marks the 30th anniversary of mine and my husband’s first date. Little did I know that we’d actually go out on a date much less make it this far. I met Charles at Foremost Dairies near downtown San Antonio where I worked at the time. Although I never considered ours an office romance as we worked in different departments, our paths crossed randomly and I couldn’t help but wonder if he was noticing me like I was him. I had been dating for a few years and could tell that Charles was a real heart-breaker. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to take the chance of getting my heart broken again, but I loved his laugh and the sparkle in his beautiful blue eyes. Ultimately, this was enough to put me into motion. I had a feeling this man would hold my attention for a lifetime, and so I proceeded to find out if he was interested in me as much as I was in him.
A few days before this first date of ours, I had visited my mom for Valentine’s Day. I arrived at her place a little forlorn as I had already been attempting to introduce myself to Charles. As Mom and I cooked a meal together, I told her that I’d met the man I was going to marry. She said, “Oh, really. How long have you been dating him?” I replied, “Oh, we haven’t started dating…yet, but I plan to ask him over for dinner this week.” My mom was kind enough to take this in stride. She proceeded to ask me all about him from his broad shoulders to what kind of vehicle he drove. And, I told her about how his belly laugh seemed to fill his entire soul from the sparkle in his eyes all the way to his toes. Somehow, she didn’t seem to doubt that I was going to do just what I said that I would. Marry this man.
Once I got back home, I set out to ask him over for dinner. At the end of Monday, I was not pleased with myself. I had attempted several times to speak with him, but he was busy every time I stopped by his office. By the end of the day, I felt like a stalker. That evening I thought about it and decided to try harder the next day. I mean, what was the worst thing that could happen? He would say no, and then I’d know he wasn’t interested in me. It would be better than not knowing at all.
The next morning came and I told myself to be brave and ask him out or I’d never be able to live with myself again. After a few more failed attempts, I finally planted myself right outside his office. There were several workers in with him and he kept getting or making phone call after phone call. The general manager’s secretary came up as I was standing outside his door and struck up a conversation. To this day, I don’t know what she was saying. All I know is that I was counting as the men left his office, one by one, and when he finally set the receiver down on his phone, I left her in mid-sentence and walked into his office.
After some stumbling around, for both of us, Charles surprised me by asking me to the rodeo – that evening. I pretended to have to check my mental calendar and then committed to being picked up at my place later that day. He was ever the gentleman, arriving only about five minutes early, unlike other possible suiters who would arrive a good thirty minutes too early or be dreadfully late. We enjoyed a typical night at the rodeo, and spent even more time together on the fairgrounds. It was a brisk February night and, even though he was just as chilled as I, he let me wear his jacket. This definitely scored more points in his favor.
After returning me safe and sound to my place, we agreed that he would come over on Thursday for a home-cooked meal. He hugged me good night and I was impressed that he seemed satisfied with a hug being that most guys wanted at least a good night kiss. As I got ready for bed, the song, “Heart Don’t Fall Now,” by Sawyer Brown, the country music performers at the rodeo, kept playing in my head. It was too late. Despite warning bells of possible heartache, my heart had fallen hard and fast.
Thirty years later, and I can tell you the road hasn’t always been easy. Charles and I have been through some tough times together. He lost his dad while we were still dating. After being married only eight months, we made a major move across country, leaving behind all those we knew and loved and all that was familiar to us. In our second year together, we learned that we couldn’t have more children. Due to poor coping skills and years of shiftwork, we lived with misunderstandings, disappointments, and angry times. We became strangers and then friends again more times than I can count. And, there were times we almost didn’t make it. These times had an upside though. If not for the tough times, we couldn’t have experienced the good times. And, in thirty years, there have been many good times. Plus, we are blessed beyond measure. Today we have a son who we are super proud of for many reasons, a daughter-in-law who we love dearly as our own, and two precious grandchildren. We have more family than we can count and more friends than we deserve. And, that’s just the important things.
If there were three things I could share that have made our relationship last, I would have to say forgiveness, sharing our blessings with others, and random acts of kindness. Our relationship has grown and developed by letting go of disappointments and hurts, and instead focusing on our present and future goals. Throughout our years together, we have shared a common bond of paying it forward as a way of giving back for all those who have helped us along the way. And, we take time to do little things for each other. Thoughtful things, like when I launder his uniforms or he walks my puppy, go a long way to making each other feel truly loved and appreciated.
For me, personally, the things that have helped me be a good wife and partner for Charles is remembering how and why I fell in love with him, and always seeing the good intentions of his heart. Today, Charles is not only still the man I fell in love with, he is better. He was and is my match, and I’m a better person since I took the chance on love with him. His rough edges are not so rough and his soft edges are smoother. Like fine wine, we have grown together to become a better version of ourselves as individuals and as a couple.
Yes, we are celebrating this anniversary of our first date in a special way; however, we are not doing so by attending the rodeo. The rodeo is not how we spent our date. It is what we did. How we spent our first date was getting to know something about each other. Asking questions. Laughing. Admiring the twinkle in the other’s eyes. Grinning with and at each other. Being nervous. It was spending time together. Embarrassing ourselves, yet continuing on because we liked each other – a lot. I’ve never wondered too much about what would’ve happened if I hadn’t decided to ask Charles over for dinner thirty years ago. But, I’m sure glad that I did. The fact that he asked me out first, after all of my efforts, only made it more special.
As we celebrate the 30th anniversary of our first date, I encourage you to do something special for the one you love. Do the dishes for her. Take out the trash for him. Give him or her a neck rub. Whatever it is, just love and be loved. Relax and embrace that which is unique for the two of you. And, laugh together. It is still the one thing I love most about Charles, the one thing that caught my attention most about him. Not only do I still love his laugh, but I love how he gets me to laugh along with him – even when I don’t think that I can. Laughing together is one of the main things that has gotten us through the tough times and cemented our love for each other. Go on, laugh and love and celebrate life together!