Valentine’s Day, 1973, was a lonely but happy day for me. I can’t remember what I was doing that day, but I can remember why it was both lonely and joyful.
In my last year in high school, a girl I had planned to marry after graduation and I broke up. In my despair, amplified by the state of being a 17 year old, I cried out to God:
“Lord, please find me a girl who will love me for who I am, whom I will love no matter what, and that we will remain together through good and bad.”
Meanwhile, far away from Cairo, in Ohio, a teenage girl is told by an aunt that one day, she will meet a tall man from the South who will win her heart and marry her. She has the faith to believe God can, but is unsure if He will.
As teenagers are wont to do, such things pass into the mind’s obscure regions, and neither of us thought much about it until later. A friend, Darrell, that I made while stationed with the Navy in North Chicago (Great Lakes), who was also 18, suggested that when our training was over in late January, and we headed to the same ship in San Diego, that during that 2 week period, we spend a few days at his house in Ohio, and then a few days at my house in Cairo. I agreed, and when we were shipped out, we drove to his house in Ross, Ohio.
Once there, Darrell said there was a girl he wanted to take out, a younger sister of a girl he went to high school with and graduated with, also 18. With all the insecurity and vanity of an 18 year old boy, he showed me her picture in his high school annual. He called and setup the blind double date for Saturday night, January 20, 1973.
When we walked into the girls’ house (something guys did back then to be respectful rather than sit out in the car and honk the horn), a beautiful girl came out with long, dark hair and brown eyes. It turned out to be the younger sister. Then, I saw the most beautiful sight I had ever seen when my date walked out. Long, beautiful brown hair, big brown eyes I could get lost in, a sweet, gentle face, and a smile that melted my heart. I was stunned and stayed that way the whole evening. Her name was Pam.
We went out to eat, went bowling (something the girls loved), and then I drove home as slowly as I could. I tried to get Pam to go out with me Sunday night, and my heat sank like a rock when she said she couldn’t because that was family bowling night, and no dates were allowed. Just about the time I thought she was giving me a polite brushoff, Pam suggested picking her up Sunday morning. I am pretty sure the joyful yell I had was kept contained so as not to embarrass myself.
I picked Pam up Sunday morning, and we went driving out in the country. We talked and got to know each other. Being the idiot I was at 18, I saw a path going through a field, and decided to take a shortcut.
I got us stuck in the mud.
We went to a farmhouse nearby to see if the farmer could pull us out with his tractor, but he had just bought the farm and did not have his equipment in place yet. He let us call a tow truck. While we were waiting, he said we must be newlyweds. We both laughed and said no, just dating.
Once I was back on the road, something came over me, and I pulled over and stopped. I turned to Pam, and asked her to marry me. To my surprise, she said “Yes!”.
We had not known each other for 24 hours yet, but we both had it in our minds from the night before, her at her house, and me at Darrell’s house, when we couldn’t sleep, that this was “the one”. Not having a close relationship after this night was an unbearable thought.
We set the date for March 10, then had to move it to March 3 when I found out my ship would be at sea on the 10th. That Valentine’s Day, 1973, was lonely for me because I missed her terribly, but joyful because I knew God had found my mate.
This next March 3rd (2011) will be our 38th anniversary. I love her more than ever, and she is more beautiful, more lovable, and more desirable to me now than when we met. Neither of us has been the perfect spouse, me certainly much less perfect than her, and we’ve had our trials and obstacles, but through it all, God has given us a love that will not die – for each other and for Him.
God knew all along who He wanted for my wife, and who He wanted for Pam’s husband. The love of a lifetime can be a divine appointment, if we just have the smallest bit of faith in the One who created us.