Good friend Allen Mincey and longtime Banner cohort sent a message the other day poking fun at me by asking if I could possibly write something about my family.
I know my summer columns haven’t been sports related, and I did offer to have them moved to the People section, if the paper preferred.
With the COVID-19 pandemic overshadowing everything in our society for the last five months, I decided that rather than write my grumblings and opinions of the gloomy situation facing local sports, this summer I’d hopefully make you smile with some heartwarming stories from my days gone by. From the amount of positive feedback I received, you are enjoying them.
While this week’s musing does have a key element from the past, it is also extremely current.
On the morning of Feb. 12 this year my Facebook account notified me that my high school sweetheart, Robin Hall, was having a birthday.
As I usually do, I sent her my special Facebook friends wish for a “Bappy Hirthday.”
Robin and I had been “engaged” (or so I thought, she says she doesn’t remember that part) for a year and a half while in high school. We semi-reconnected on Facebook a couple of years ago, but had not had a lot of interaction to that point.
However, when I added a key word to my birthday greeting, saying “Bappy Hirthday Beautiful,” it sparked something in her (she was a little bummed a few months later when I confessed that was a usual b-day wish I send my female Facebook friends — not something special I made up just for her. Should have kept my mouth shut about that).
Two days later, on Valentine’s Day, she responded with a short note:
“Thank you for the birthday wish, it touched my heart and made me laugh. I just wanted to tell you that I truly miss you. No one was ever as kind and gentle as you were to me. I haven’t ever forgotten you. Thank you for still being that sweet gentle man I knew so long ago. Love and hugs.”
My heart leapt in my chest as an old flame got fanned.
Let me share at this point, Robin had been divorced for almost 20 years and I had been separated and divorced for 15. Both of us had resigned ourselves to being single for the rest of our lives.
She had declared to her friends just the month before, she was done with dealing with the stress of dating and would never get married again.
Although I had only briefly dated two women in the past decade and a half, I had no plans on pursuing another relationship, figuring at my age, weight and income level, I wasn’t much of a catch.
It seems the Lord had other plans for both of us.
The exchange of a few messages, turned into long phone conversations and after a month into a face-to-face meeting.
While we had talked about working out a way to see one another, after the Bradley Bearettes fell in the opening round of the state tournament and I found myself with an unexpected weekend off, I headed for what turned out to be the first of many 320-mile trips to Winston-Salem, N.C.
After I had just crossed the state line east of Knoxville, she called me, apologizing as she had just found out she was going to have to work all weekend, due to an urgent project deadline (she’s a CAD operator for an engineering firm).
I told her it was too late, I was coming over anyway, even if I only got to see her for a few minutes and get just one kiss. I was at the point I needed to see her to find out if what I was feeling was for real or just something I had made up in my mind.
She agreed, so I continued my trek to destiny.
Getting to her house just a few minutes before her, when she pulled up in the driveway, and stepped out of her van, my heart went into my throat.
I greeted her with a hug (this was just before the pandemic hit with social distancing and masks encouraged) and then we kissed. I felt the flickers flash into a roaring fire immediately as the 44 years gone by melted away.
Although neither of us said anything about it at the time, we have both admitted we knew something special was happening in that instant.
I’ll share more next time about the amazing doors the Lord has opened to confirm our (spoiler alert for those who don’t already know) recent special event. While we had a small, family-only ceremony for legal purposes (so she can move in without us “living in sin”) almost a month ago. Our “wedding celebration” is planned for October.
It’s amazing to us that when we both had accepted our future in one way, how the Lord stepped in and said, “I’ve got something better planned.”
It’s always best to end your prayers like Jesus did in the Garden, “Nevertheless, not my will, but Thine be done.” — Luke 22:42.