Today is our ninth anniversary – and my lovely wife Darlene has challenged me with the task of getting the details of our courtship right.
But of course, I am a guy, and the likelihood of my being completely accurate as to her accounting is slim to nil.
But here is how I remember it.
A decade ago today, I had a great job for a great company in London, Ontario. Life was very mundane, lonely and – except for my work – down right empty.
Free … free to do what I liked – when I liked – with who I liked – but empty.
I met my lovely bride to be in the late winter – early spring of the year 2000.
Both of us were at a sailing club in Bayfield, Ontario for different reasons. I chatted with a pretty red-headed girl at the bar on my turn to buy a round. I left with her email address – and she with mine.
We exchanged a couple of emails and the next thing I knew I was down to the little town of Amherstburg – on the southern tip of Ontario where the Detroit River meets Lake Erie – for a visit.
That first weekend, my lovely new registered nurse of a girlfriend sent me to a local doctor to have a full physical.
She was checking under the hood of the new man she was acquiring. Luckily I passed with flying colors. But it did have me wondering.
The visits became weekends, and shortly became every weekend.
A most memorable weekend included a trip to the new Comerica Park in Detroit – to watch the Toronto Blue Jays beat the snot out of the Detroit Tigers. It was my birthday present.
The seats were right behind home plate – and I sat there alone in the barren stadium on that May 28th game and listened to a drunk two rows up from me heckle Carlos Delgado as he hit his second home run in a row. My lovely girlfriend Darlene had decided to go shopping in the gift shop that afternoon.
Cut to Father's Day later that summer.
Again I was down and visiting, and we had some friends over from the neighborhood. Good friends I must say now in retrospect. The next morning, trying to absorb a coffee into my recovering dried out brain, my lovely girlfriend Darlene presented me with a Father's Day present.
My very first one.
I looked at her oddly as I opened the box.
Inside the box where a pair of booties for a new born baby. Each adorned with a tiny old English D logo of the Tigers.
"Hey .. that's pretty cool!" I responded, thinking they would look great hanging from a rear view mirror.
"uh ..hmmm" cleared the throat of my lovely girlfriend. "There's more".
At the bottom of the box sat a photograph of some kind. I pulled it out and tried to make sense of the image.
"Okay …?" I said still not getting the not so subtle hints.
"It's an ultrasound image", she said.
"Oh, yeah .. I see it now!"
"It's a girl" said Darlene as her eyes got all warm.
"Ohhh ….OHHHH ….ohhhh" as the dawn of realization swept across my face in what will stand to be the most life changing moment I will experience – aside from being born myself.
At that moment, and never with question, I knew that Darlene and I had just embarked on the journey to the rest of our lives together.
And there has never been a doubt in that decision.
Since Darlene had a great career as a registered nurse across the Detroit River – and I as an IT guy could find work anywhere … the decision seemed simple for me to find a job down in Amherstburg and leave London.
The one job that I had landed was as a Java Architect for Chrysler in Detroit. Two interviews and several phone calls had left me with the impression that I would be travelling frequently to Germany to work with the Daimler side of the company to integrate systems between Detroit Chrysler and the German Daimler.
"You have to be able to be a tough prick to get things done with these German's", my future boss informed me.
My next call to their office the following week was greeted by a message on an answering machine that the office no longer existed. The Germans had overthrown Chrysler and the office was gone.
To this day, I am so glad I did not start that job only to lose it a week later.
At the same time, I was working hard interviewing and trying to sell myself with Green Shield Canada, a premier employer in Windsor. All the while – driving back and forth from Amherstberg to London – a two hour drive each way, through November and December snow blizzards.
Just before the end of the year – I finally landed a job with Green Shield, and I left my former employer – a company I had watched and helped build from a staff of fifteen to nearly a hundred people nine years later.
So we were set.
We rented a tiny little home in the old downtown section of the historic little Amherstburg. And we started to prepare the tiny little nursery for our soon-to-be newborn daughter.
As our first Christmas came and passed – and the new year started – and the culture shock of my new job was jarring me – my lovely girlfriend and I came to realize that only one thing was missing from what was soon to be our perfect little family.
We weren't married.
Now I don't remember who said what to who – but the conversation one evening late in January 2001 went something like this …
"You know, I'm due in early February?"
"Yes, I believe you are."
"We really should get married you know"
"Yeah, I know."
A couple of minutes passed in silence.
"Let's do it".
There was no kneeling down. No engagement ring. No violins or champagne.
Just an agreed acknowledgement of what should be done. The right thing to do.
I guess that's one of the reason's I love my wife so much.
We told our neighborhood friends our plans … and they got very excited … more excited probably than we were. And we told Darlene's parents. And they seemed very relieved. More relieved than we were.
And so at the end of the eighth month of my lovely girlfriend's pregnancy – glowing and in her most full rounded form, we marched down the isle of a non-denominational chapel and said our vows to a non-denominational minister.
And we were hitched.
My lovely wife's father – now my father in law – threw a really nice little lunch for us in a restaurant that looked out over the river – across the street from the chapel.
And then we went home.
And that afternoon was like any other Saturday afternoon.
The following Monday, I went into the office and in simple passing … when asked what I did last weekend, I simply listed off the events … "oh, and we got married on Saturday".
The following weekend, our eldest daughter Alannah was born.
And while we were in the hospital learning to be parents in our weekend dose of instant reality – I simply looked over at my lovely wife Darlene … holding our beautiful and perfect baby girl … and said …
"What do you want to do next weekend?"