Enough with the depressing stuff! Enough with the negativity of the joblessness for a bit! It’s the week of Thanksgiving, let’s look at the things we are thankful for!
Let me start by talking about my wife.
Amy is literally an answered prayer to me. That’s not an overstatement.
There was a time in my life when I needed a good partner. I was headed down a pretty bad road, one that actually could have killed me if I’d continued to go down that path. I was in emotional pain, and that old line of “loneliness was my best friend” … well, in my case, it was true.
I had reached a point one night where I felt that pain so much, I just knelt down and prayed for a good two hours or so. I needed someone who could love me for who I am and lift me up when I needed it. I needed a good, positive influence in my life. So I asked for one.
And I got it.
I met Amy Kathleen Wareing on a blind date in the middle of September in 1989, not long after that prayer. As soon as she opened the door to her house to greet me on that first date, I was swept away by her lovely face. I met her parents and her younger sister. To be honest, she wanted me to meet her parents because, when I called her for the first time to arrange a date, my voice intimidated her.
That darn deep, low voice of mine! It can get me into more trouble!
We went to a college football game, where I treated her to popcorn and candy. She knows very little at all about football, even to this day, so I tried teaching her a few things about the game. I fooled her into believing that a touchdown was actually a home run, but she showed a good sense of humor and gave me a good whack on the arm when I let her know I was kidding. It was important to me to know that she could handle my gentle teasing. That’s a trait I somehow got from my father, even though I’d never met him.
After the game, we had a 30-minute drive to get back to her home and we had some time to kill. I asked her what she might like to do, gave her a choice of anything at all she might like to do. She chose to drive through car lots, so she could pick out the car that I would buy for her someday.
I liked that. I liked that a lot. It must have meant that she liked me.
The pickup truck that I owned and was driving at the time was a 1988 Ford Ranger. It was white with blue pinstripes along the side. It was jacked up a bit, had nice chrome rims, a rollbar and push bar each with a set of fog lights, four on the floor. That truck was super sweet, it had some get-up-and-go, and it was a tank when it came to four-wheeling. So just before getting her to her home, we did a little off-road riding as well. She was impressed.
On first dates, I would usually come home afterward as high as a kite, filled with excitement. But not after the first date with Amy. Instead, I went back to my studio apartment, sat down on my couch, smoked a few cigarettes, and thought about the date. I wasn’t bouncing off the walls like I normally would after a date. I felt a sense of … peace, contentment, comfort. It felt like something that was really meant to be.
The dating continued sooner than I expected. We went to movies, concerts, out to pizza, on walks through her family’s pasture area where horses and other livestock roamed. As managing editor of the small daily newspaper where I worked, I had to work nights from Mondays through Fridays. On Friday nights, when I’d have to help cover high school football games, Amy would come to games with me and help me by taking notes along the sideline while I’d take photos. Back at the office, she’d be with me, sitting in a chair in my cubicle while I’d work until I was done for the night and I could take her home.
Amy was raised as a Seventh-day Adventist. I had never been in an Adventist church, until the first time she invited me and I freely accepted. There I was, a longtime rock-and-roller, going to church on a Saturday morning. And what was the title of the very first sermon that I would hear in an Adventist church?
“One,” taken from the song of the same name by the rock band Three Dog Night. There I was, someone who had prayed for someone to really share my life with, to take away the pains of loneliness, and the Adventist pastor was talking about “one being the loneliest number.”
Okay, was that supposed to be some glaring sign? Maybe so.
I asked her maybe two weeks into our dating if she had a photo of herself that I could keep. She gave me a picture of her standing near a stream, holding the reins of her horse on a trail ride while the horse drank from the stream. Amy’s very big into horses, always has been. Animals of all kinds, actually. I took that photo home, sat and looked at it for quite a while, focusing on Amy’s face, her long brown hair, her eyes.
Less than two months after meeting her, I went the old-fashioned route and asked her parents’ permission for her hand in marriage. In early November, I sat with her in my apartment one afternoon before I went in to work, had her sit on the couch, and I played two songs on my stereo. As the first one — Billy Joel’s “Just The Way You Are” — played, I told her about what a difference she was making already in my life.
I knelt down in front of her as the second song played. It was John Lennon’s “Grow Old Along With Me.” I asked her to do that with me, and she accepted.
We were married on a Sabbath afternoon, March 17, 1990 — St. Patrick’s Day. The pastor had broken his foot while jogging just a day or so before the wedding. The cast on his foot and leg was green.
The wedding was about 25 miles away from my home in Blackfoot, taking place in the Pocatello, Idaho, church. As I drove toward Pocatello on I-15, I thought about the events ahead of me with tremendous anticipation. I also thought about my deceased father and older brother, wishing they could be there with me to share in the occasion. A touch of sadness mixed with great joy. As I thought of them, I thought of my bride-to-be walking down the aisle, wondering what she would look like.
As I drove along the freeway, getting closer to Pocatello, I was listening to a song on my truck’s cassette player called “The Meeting.” I listened to the gentle piano playing of Rick Wakeman in the song, thought of my loved ones missing and the loved one I was about to meet as I would gaze upon her down the aisle, and I cried.
Amy literally took my breath away when I saw her for the first time that day. Darn near made my knees buckle. That’s how beautiful she looked then.
She looks even more beautiful today.
I am forever grateful for the gift of my wife … my best friend … my comfort … my strength … my partner … my inspiration … the one who’s given me the greatest positive influence in my life.
I will be forever grateful for the ones who brought this wonderful gift to me