Thursday, May 28, 2015

How I Met Your Mother

Dear Melody,

Since today is your mom's birthday, let me tell you about how we met.  It was April 4, 1998.  I was living with my cousin, Dan, in Montgomery Village, MD.  Dan and I would spend many a Saturday morning getting breakfast at the local IHOP.  It was an opportunity to catch up on things, even though we saw each other just about every day.  Dan and I could talk about anything, and we regularly shared stories about our relationships situations.  He was dating a nice young lady at his church, and things were serious.  I was dating a young lady who lived just over an hour away, which made it essentially a long distance relationship.  I hate long distance relationships.  They never work out.  And this one wasn't going well.

Ellen and I met in August 1993 after being introduced to each other by my aunt in Uniontown, PA.  Aunt Sandi was taking classes at West Virginia University, and Ellen was in one of those classes.  My grandfather, Pap, was in the last days of his battle with cancer, and the end was near, and I was spending a lot of time with him.  Aunt Sandi invited Ellen to visit and we kind of hit it off.  We dated semi-seriously for about six months before things fizzled.  It was just too hard for us to date with her at WVU and me working full-time in the DC area, and, frankly, I don't think either of us felt like we were "the one."  Fast forward to the Summer of 1997, and she tracked me down and began to write to me.  Not email...actual hand-written letters.  She was interested in seeing if I wanted to get together.  She was now living in Northwestern Virginia, which, as I noted above, was still kind of far.  I finally agreed to drive out to visit in October, and there were enough sparks to warrant dating again.  But it still didn't feel right.

That morning at IHOP, I shared with Dan my concerns about the relationship, and that I was considering ending it.  In fact, we were due to get together that afternoon, but she had called to cancel, so I didn't have plans for that Saturday.  The wheels were turning in Dan's head and he quickly invited me to the Easter Passion Play he was performing in at his church that evening.  He said there was a nice girl in the show that I might like to meet.  I hemmed and hawed, and told him I would think about it.  Then we went on with our days.

I decided to go to the show.  I arrived at the church and found a seat in the back row.  I looked over the program and the cast list, but Dan had neglected to tell me the girl's name.  I had no idea who she was.  As the show began, I started scanning the actors on stage to see who might fit the age range of the girl Dan wanted me to meet.  I had no clue.

The performances were well done, and after the show, Dan came out to tell me that much of the cast was planning to go out to eat.  He invited me to go with them, and that would give me the chance to meet Teresa.  My heart was thumping, and I found myself feeling excited about meeting someone new.  I drove over to the restaurant, which was just down the street, on busy Rockville Pike.  The place was really crowded.  Dan decided that it was too crowded, and suggested we go somewhere else.  I waited on the sidewalk with him and a friend of his just outside of the restaurant while he intercepted everyone to redirect them to the other restaurant.  A teal-colored Pontiac Grand Am pulled up, and driver rolled down the window.  Dan told her where we were going, and she drove off.  Dan then leaned over and said that she was the one he wanted me to meet.  I noted that she and I had the same car, since I also had a Pontiac Grand Am.  After Dan was sure he had redirected everyone, I followed him over to the second restaurant.

We walked in, and since everyone was already seated, we had to take the only available seats remaining.  He quickly introduced me to everyone, then he sat the open seat next to Teresa.  I spent the evening with Dan sitting between me and the girl he wanted me to meet!  Since I was at the end of the table, and didn't know anyone except for Dan, I just kind of sat there as a fifth wheel, staring at the beautiful young lady with the great smile and out-going personality that appealed to me, sitting a few chairs over, trying not to look too eager or stalkerish.

We were at the restaurant for about two hours, then everyone decided to break and go home.  As we headed for the door, I finally had the chance to say something to Teresa.  Since I clearly have a way with words, I blurted out the only thing I could think of:  "Hey, you drive a Grand Am, too!"  She just looked at me like I had broccoli in my teeth.

At home, Dan asked if I wanted him to get her phone number, and I said, sure, I guess, if she even remembers me.  Fortunately, she did, and gave Dan her number the following day.  I guess I made somewhat of an impression on her.  Dan said she was going on vacation for Spring Break and would be gone for a week, though.  I decided to wait until she returned from her trip.  In the meantime, I drove out to see Ellen, and we mutually agreed that things weren't working out, and we had an amicable break-up.

I called Teresa about two weeks later, after getting my nerve up, and we had a great conversation.  She clearly sounded interested.  I guess my Grand Am line made an impression.  We went on our first date on May 2, almost a full month after meeting, and we had a great time.  She was more beautiful than I remembered, and she told me that I was much taller than she remembered.  We continued to see each other regularly, frequently, and seriously, and fell in love.  In February of 1999, I proposed, she said yes, and we were married the following July.  The storybook romance was completed when Mommy gave birth to a little girl in November of 2003.

God blessed our family so much.  There was a lot of love in our little family, and I only wish Mommy was still with us.  She passed away on April 19, 2004.

And that's how I met your mother.


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