My Unlikely Road to the Altar

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Me and Big Poppa on our wedding day, March 22, 2003.

Yes, by the time most of you read this, Big Poppa and I will be celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary!  Yay, me! Somehow, I thought that we would mark this milestone with a lot more fanfare than we are but, considering the two people involved (one of them being me), I shouldn’t be surprised that it’s going to be really low-key.  We always said that we would return to Hawaii (our honeymoon location) for our 10th anniversary but, I think that those plans started before the birth of Thing 1 and Thing 2.  Kids have a funny way of changing your plans.

Ten years!  Like, a decade!  No, not “like” a decade, it is a decade! I know that there are plenty of people who have been married longer than that, in fact, my parents were married for 59 years by the time that my dad died. Quite honestly, the thought of being married for 59 years just freaks me out but, I think that’s because I will be 95-years-old when I celebrate my 59th wedding anniversary. Yikes!

By the time I met my Mr. Right, I was in my mid-thirties and marriage had pretty much fallen off of my radar.  I was raising my son as a single mom and really had no desire to change things.  Believe me, my road to the altar was just as surprising to me as it was to everyone else who knew me.

Okay, I’m going to tell you this story, mainly because it’s funny but, as I reflect on it, I think there is something very poignant about it.  So, picture this…it was the fall of 2000 and marriage was NOT on my list of priorities.  At the time  my son was then 10-years-old and in eight years would be leaving for college.  Still relatively young, after he left I planned to sell my townhouse in the western suburbs and buy a condo downtown Chicago.  I was looking forward to it, kind of like starting over.  During this time in our lives, my focus was on being the best mother that I could be to Mr. C.  I rarely dated and most of my social outings involved him.  This is not a complaint, it was the life that I had built for us and it was all good.

One morning at work, I was talking with a friend of mine, who was also my admin, about life (in hindsight, I really think that she thought I was a bit loony) and she said “What exactly would you be looking for in a potential husband ?’  Since I hadn’t really thought about it in a while, I told her that I’d get back to her the next day.  I did in fact consider the things that were most important to me and this is what I told her and in this order:

1. He must love God.

2. If he has children, he must be a great, fantastic and wonderfully loving dad.

3. He must be financially secure (this one needs further explanation); and,

4. He must not expect any hanky panky before marriage (this one does not need any further explanation).

The reference to financial security did not mean that I was looking for a guy with a lot of cash.  However, it did mean that he had to be secure in his profession and wise with his money.  Remember, I was a single mom.  I did not want to take any financial steps backwards.

My friend looked at me and said “Honey, you are going to be waiting a long time!”  then walked away.  I believed that she was right but, it was okay because I had reached a point in my life where I was willing to concede nothing and I was perfectly happy.

Fast forward to Christmas of that same year when a mutual friend invited this guy:

IMG01047-20120713-1653 Yes, the goofy guy in the foam pit, and I to a Christmas party that she was hosting at her home.  We were briefly introduced but, that is about as far as it went.  There was no instant spark, no love at first sight, nothing at all. Sorry, Charlie.  However, a couple of weeks later, he called and asked me out to dinner.  I said yes and this is where things start to get a bit wacky.

Big Poppa shows up to pick me up and literally, the second thing that he says to me after “Hello,” was “Can we go somewhere that I can get some soup because I just got braces on my teeth and they are hurting me right now.”  Yep! He was one smooth talker, all right!  Anyway, we went to Baker’s Square (yummy pies, right?) and I soon realized that this was a man who was putting his life back together after a divorce and not really interested in dating.  The fact that he kept stressing that we were not on date but, instead we were “fellow-shipping”  (Christian speak for “hanging out”) pretty much illustrated that point.  Therefore, I thought that entitled me to two pieces of pie since I obviously wasn’t trying to impress anyone.  Believe it or not, we went to the movies after the soup and pie to see Tom Hanks in Castaway.  It was a pleasant enough evening, which we now refer to as our first “non-date”,  and we did talk on the phone a few times after that but soon, it fizzled out. Oh, well, life goes on.  It was January, 2001.

Out of the blue, in August, 2001, I received an email from him asking me if I would like to attend a co-worker’s 50th birthday party.  Apparently, I didn’t answer quickly enough because about five minutes after I opened the e-mail, he called me to verbally repeat the invitation.  However, during his verbal invitation he went a bit further to say “There are other women that I could ask but, they would read more into it and think that this was some sort of date and I know that you won’t do that.” Really?  Wow! Now, I know that many of you are wondering why I even bothered with this guy but, being the slightly off beat, quirky person that I am, I figured that here was another opportunity for a free meal and a pleasant afternoon out with someone who wasn’t going to try to touch me.  So, I went for it!  We agreed to meet at my sister’s house where I would park my car and ride with him.  Believe me when I tell you, that from the moment I stepped out of my car that day, everything was different.   His smile was different -sweet and sincere.  His demeanor was different – totally relaxed.  His, or shall I say, our conversation was different – we were no longer fellow-shipping   We had a great time that day and we’ve been together ever since.  We became engaged in February 2002 and, as they say, the rest is history.  By the way, he met every one of the criteria that I listed above.   He isn’t perfect, he does have his own issues, (we both do…but, he has more) but, he is perfect for me.

There you have it!  The abridged version of how the two people pictured above became one, or shall I say, seven.

Our Family Circa 2012

Our Family Circa 2012

In retrospect, I guess 10 years isn’t so long.  I think that we may be just getting started.

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