25 years ago this month, I met the love of my life, my soul-mate. My mother had told me since I was a little girl that “Mr. Wonderful” would show up one day… and so he did!
It was Easter in Jackson, Mississippi and for some strange reason the ballet company I danced with had dropped it’s weekend engagement -meaning we would not be boarding our bus yet again and traveling to some area of the United States to perform. We had just come off the road with a short turn-around and had prepared to leave, but schedules can change quickly with a touring company. Thus was my life as a dancer. I didn’t have time to make the 6 hour drive to Atlanta to see my parents so I decided to make the best of it in my little flower dress, and went to church alone.
It was a beautiful morning and I sang all the way there. My friend, the pastor’s daughter, met me coming in and waved me over to sit with her. What a joy, there weren’t many college-age kids in the congregation. She and her new husband invited me for lunch afterwards. Somewhere in the first few minutes of greetings and songs a guy had slipped into our pew, next to my friend. I nudged her and asked who he was. They obviously knew each other. Her face lit up as she began to tell me all about this long-time friend of her family’s who was now in Louisiana at college (Tulane).
Her low talking turned to whispers, then to notes as the sermon started. He sure was handsome and I was glad I’d curled my hair, but the more she gushed about all of this guy’s accomplishments and academic achievements the more intimidated I became. She wanted to set us up on a date. I panicked. I could see her match-making eyes dreaming of our future together. Instead, I suggested inviting him to lunch, feeling sure that as soon as he heard I was nothing more than a vagabond ballet dancer trouping all over the country, he’d politely eat and bow out. But then…
I shook his hand. I don’t remember him saying his name or who was standing around us. I just remember looking into those blue, blue eyes and feeling his warm hand incasing mine. I was in a daze after that. I could hardly breath, much less eat lunch or function for days… which turned into weeks. We learned about each other through cards and letters (pre-cell phone, “snail mail”). We had our first date 3 weeks later -as our schedules finally permitted. 4 days together in the same town and we were secretly engaged. A month after that we shocked everyone by announcing our engagement! 6 months later (most of which we spent apart) we were married.
Today he tells me he never had any doubts… that day after lunch he drove to his grandpa’s house and told him, “I just met the girl I’m gonna marry.”