It was 13 years ago today when I first met Roland. Oh, I had seen him before. He was in my mom’s ward (church boundary) for a brief period of time.
He always sat with his arms stretched out on the pew and around each of his boys that were seated next to him on either side. He also had a big ol’ smile plastered on his face. There was something about him that appealed to me. His smile perhaps. The genuine love that he had for his boys.
On December 31, 2000, I saw him in the foyer of the church. He was wearing a tie with a large picture of the Tasmanian devil printed on it.
“Nice tie,” I said. I don’t know if I actually used the word “nice” – I’m really not that big of a Looney-Tune fan, but I did want to get his attention. “A gift from your boys?”
There was a loud smile on Roland’s face – because something told him that I would be his next wife. Fortunately he did not share that with me at the time. I don’t think I would have gone out with him otherwise.
He didn’t actually answer my question about the tie. Mr. Smooth wanted to know where I sat and kept his arm around me the entire time. (I suppose that should have been a clue)
He asked me to “First Night” an event that takes place downtown – to welcome in the New Year. He said it would just be him and me and that he’d leave the boys at home.
I told him NOT to leave the boys at home. My family has played games on New Years for as long as I remember. I told him to leave the boys at my mom’s house and play games with my family. None of us knew that the boys would be a part of the family before the end of 2001 – except for maybe Roland.
So the boys sat with their “cousins” apparently in order of birth – they certainly hadn’t planned it that way, but mom looked over and said they were seated Biff (13) Tony (12) Ellen (11) Randy (10) and Kimball (9)
Our engagement happened fast – too fast in my opinion. I had come home sick and instructed Corey that I was not to be disturbed, but he made an exception for Roland whom I really didn’t know but was comfortable with – although I didn’t know why. I had dismissed guys less forward than Roland for being TOO forward. And yet here was Roland who surprisingly didn’t ask me to marry him at First Night.
He wanted my opinion about two things. He held out some job applications and told me the pros and cons for each one and asked what job I thought he should take. Really? What advice could I possibly give him?
The reason he valued my opinion is because there was a second matter. Would I marry him? That is why he wanted my input about the job. “No, no, no, no,” is what I thought in my head. “I don’t even know this guy”
I had had a dream the night before. “The Lord is testing me,” I thought. He had tested so many others in the Bible – Abraham, Sarah, Ester, Ruth, the widow that Elijah meets up with in 1 Kings 17:10.
I did NOT KNOW Roland. How could I possibly marry someone I did not know – not really? It was an act of faith. I had convinced myself that just because I had said “Yes” to his proposal did not mean I couldn’t change my mind later on.
I didn’t change my mind. We were married two days before the planes crashed into the world trade center. I thought the world had come to an end. I suppose for many it did. Economically we have not climbed out of it. We have struggled most of our married lives. There have been a large number of us who have struggled. The mountain has become rougher. We really need to assist one another to the top.
It’s been a hard climb. But I have learned to love Roland tremendously. He always tells me how blessed he is to have me in his life. But you know what? I am the one who has been blessed.
I’m grateful to Roland. Perhaps one day I will be grateful for the struggles. I’d be lying if I were to post that right now. I know struggles are for my own good, they help me to grow . . . blah, blah, blah. Honestly, at this point in time, I think struggles suck big time – even more than a powerful vacuum cleaner.