It was cold and rainy. That's what she remembered most. Cold. Rainy. The perfect setting as she stood watching her father's casket being lowered into the ground.
He was just 38 years old. Much too young to die. She was just 10 years old. Much too young to watch her Dad suffer and lose a battle with leukemia.
Standing at the edge of that same cemetary, with his parents, was a boy. His blue-eyes were transfixed on the little brown-haired girl who stood with tears in her eyes and the weight of the world on her shoulders. He just couldn't stop staring. Despite the sadness overshadowing her face, she was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. He imagined happier days and seeing her smile. He didn't understand it, didn't know where the thought came from, but he knew that one day he was going to be the one who made her face light up again.
"That girl is going to be my wife one day," he promised to himself.
He walked away but never forgot the promise he made that day. Her face before him, he went through his teenage years, and moved away from home at the ripe young age of 15.
She walked away to a life of poverty and struggle, a life of sadness. She turned away from childhood that day. There was no place for being a young girl in a house with 5 younger siblings and a mother who had no choice but to leave home to do the "Man's" work.
She was ignorant of the promise made to her by the blue-eyed boy. It was terribly hard, but she had hope in her heart just the same. And at the delicate age of 14, she moved with her mother and family, away to Ontario. Unbeknownst to her, her future drove by her street every day on his way to work.
Work for him was first at a car wash, then for an automotive company painting cars. He loved cars. But he loved her more. So, in 1971, he travelled back to his home in Newfoundland. He sought her out, knocked on her door, but she wasn't there. They told him her address. It wasn't possible! Could he really have spent the last several years living only a few houses away from her? How could their paths not have crossed?
But, they were not meant to meet in Ontario. They were destined to be at "home" in Newfoundland. And it wasn't long before she returned.
He wouldn't risk letting her out of his sights again and asked her to marry him. She said, "Yes!" with a sense of relief, like she was being rescued. And on this day, August 11th, in 1972, in a tiny church on a hill, she wore white and walked down the aisle, timid as a church mouse, into the arms of her boistrous young knight, dressed in a trim black suit.
Has it been a fairytale? Hearing that story, told often by Dad, always made me think it started off so. I know it hasn't always been since. And yet, they have endured with an everlasting love and devotion to each other and their family.
Happy Anniversary to you, Mom and Dad! Wishing you many more years and the fairy tale ending you both deserve.