To the point week of 9-29-11

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SOME PEOPLE MEET THE love of their life in college or in the workforce. Others search their entire lives and never make that one, special connection.

National statistics show that more than half of all marriages now end in divorce; which shows that although people may not believe that their one, true love is out there – they’re still willing to try and find them.

Me? I got lucky. Because I’ve known my one true love since we were freshmen in high school. That’s 36 years, but everyday seems like the first one.

My wife, Jacquita, isn’t one to seek the spotlight – in fact, usually she runs from it. She is someone who is fiercely proud of the accomplishments of others, and although she played a key role in that success, she is very happy to let others get their glory.

I actually met her when we were seventh graders, but she moved from our community for her eighth grade year; but moved back as we entered our freshman year of high school. After our lunch hour we’d hang around in the algebra room, waiting on our fifth period math class to start; and a group of us would talk and laugh and just goof around.

As winter approached, we were all anxiously awaiting the high school Christmas Dance, a big event at our school; and after some nervous moments I asked Jacquita if she would be my date.

She said yes.

That was December 10th, 1975.

After that dance we were more best friends than a couple, being a part of a big group of friends that ran around together and generally enjoyed high school. She would date one of my best friends for some time, while I moved in and out of a couple of dating relationships. When the Blizzard of 1978 hit and we weren’t in school for a month, Jacquita and I talked on the phone everyday.

Just friends. Nothing more.

Now I guess if I have to admit it, I was a “good boy” in high school (I really hate to admit that, but it’s true). I was known around town as a “good kid”, and that caused me to be put in some strange situations.

The strangest was when my buddy began dating the daughter of the President of the town council where I lived at the beginning of our senior year. Her dad didn’t trust my friend one bit – but he did trust me. So, a deal was struck, much to my objections:

My friend could date his daughter, as long as I went along.

You can imagine how fun that was.

After several weeks of being the “third wheel”, I was getting pretty tired of sitting in movie theaters alone and generally being the “chaperone”.

It was November 10th, 1978 – a Saturday – when I got a call from my friend telling me what time he’d be by to pick me up for his date that night.

“No thanks, I’m done,” I said.

“But you have to go,” was his reply.

“I’m not going alone.”

“Then find a date.”

“Who?”

“I don’t know. Who do you want to go with?”

Moments later, I was on the phone, calling Jacquita and asking her if she wanted to go on a double date “as friends”. She agreed, and off we went.

The relationship between my friend and the councilman’s daughter didn’t last much longer, but when we finished that first date, I asked my future wife if she’d like to go out by ourselves the next night - Sunday – because we were off of school on Monday for Veterans Day.

She said yes.

And here we are.

People say that “long distance” relationships can’t last, but for two years after high school Jacquita attended Ball State University and I went to Hanover. That was long before cell phones and laptops (or computers, for that matter); there was nothing like instant messaging or Facebook; let alone Skype.

Jacquita and I worked campus jobs to pay our share of the phone bill, because we got to talk via long distance once a week. We wrote letters (yes, real letters with stamps and everything….) and we probably saw each other about twice a month.

After two years she transferred to Hanover, and a year later during the summer between our junior and senior years of college, I asked her to marry me.

She said yes.

We graduated at the end of May and were married in July of 1983. She was working in an ice cream place while she hunted for a teaching job that fall; and I was waiting to hear if I had a job at the newspaper in Richmond. I got that job, but had to start the Tuesday morning after we were married, so there wasn’t much time (or money) for a honeymoon.

So we came to Florence, Kentucky, got a room and wandered around the Florence Mall.

Foreshadowing, right? Since we’re there sometimes weekly now.

When we moved to Vevay in the spring of 1984, I moved in early May because she was teaching and wasn’t leaving her kids until the school year was over. At the end of May, she moved here to join me.

I remember going over to take pictures of the high school band camp, and she went along. Bill Kindle, who was the director at the time, asked me if my daughter played a musical instrument.

“She’s my wife,” I said.

That’s been a running theme.

I once went to her classroom door and asked to see Mrs. Lanman when a first grader answered.

“Mrs. Lanman, you’re dad’s here!”

“Her dad’s here?” was my response. Surely I don’t look that old!

Nope, she just looks that young.

I tell you all of this because this Saturday my beautiful wife will celebrate her 50th birthday. She is somewhat surprised because since January, when I turned 50, she’s thought that she’s 50 also – because we’re the same age, right?

She will celebrate in a somewhat quiet fashion, as is her preference; but plans are being made for a trip with three of her dearest friends from high school (not me) now that all four of the ladies have turned 50.

“I don’t know where we’re going, but it can’t be too long because I have to be at school,” she’ll say.

She’s right. Your kids will always be her kids too.

With your permission, I need to stop for just a few lines and write something personal and private to my wonderful wife. I hope you understand.

*

To my old Army buddy: I know you don’t like to have attention drawn to you, but you need to know that you are a superstar in my eyes. You have truly invested yourself and all your heart into whatever you do, from teaching kids to raising them; and even to your marriage with this man who drags you through a too busy, too hectic lifestyle when you’d just as soon read a book. You and I both know that I don’t deserve you, and we also know that I’d be lost without you. As you turn 50, know that each and everytime I look at you, I still see that young girl I took to our first dance; that teenager that agreed to that first movie; and the college woman who was faithful and loving and understanding.

I still see you walking down that aisle on the arm of your dad; and I see you holding our three daughters. Your birth certificate may say you’re 50 years old this week; but in my eyes and my heart you will always be frozen in time. The timeless love of my life; and I will never be able to express the full extent of my love for you.

Happy Birthday, Q. I love you.