And Finally, Without Further Ado...From Courtroom to ER to 17 Years and Counting, Part 2

"...right in the middle of bowling..."BEEP. BEEP. {pause}BEEP.BEEP.{pause}BEEP.BEEP."

That's where I left you hanging almost a month ago.  Ack!  Sorry about that.  We had talked about Billy and I meeting in court, and then we'd started our first real date, a bowling outing with friends. 

Trouble is, we were both on call, with a whole passel of pagers and "car phones" as we called them in those days.  They were actually bag phones...remember those?  Almost no one in those days had personal cell phones; we'd just gotten the amazing bag phones that were passed from on-call worker to on-call worker, which made dealing with after-hours, away-from-the-office issues so much easier.

Except when one was in the middle of a first date. A first date in which both parties were carrying said phones. 

The Best-Laid Plans...

As the beepers began wailing, we realized that we were probably finished bowling for the evening. Sure enough, we were both paged to the hospital on the same case...Billy to begin the abuse investigation, and me to begin the process of finding a foster home for the tiny girl involved. 
It was not to be our last date to end in the ER, meeting the police for an investigation, or transporting a child across the state to a foster care or facility placement. in fact, Billy once literally saved my life when the teen boy I was transporting attempted to choke me on the dark drive down the mountain (pre-540 Bypass days) after he'd been kicked out of a shelter.  (Sadly, that boy is now in prison for multiple murders. :-( )

Hours in the ER was not the world's best ending to a first date, but it was somewhat indicative of the pattern of our lives from that point on.  Not much has gone as planned in the 20+ years since!  We learned early on to be flexible and roll with the punches. (And we're still learning!)

As we began to talk about marriage, we made one decision very early on...neither of us would work for DHS/SCAN once we were married. Our joke was that we would make that part of the wedding vows.  We didn't...but it was tempting.  Child Protective Service careers don't tend to be conducive to long, healthy marriages.

The Crystal and the Kitten

When Billy and I met, I was living with my Granny Kitty.  All of my extended family liked Billy immediately, but Granny Kitty just pretty much took him in as one of the family long before we were engaged.

I've laughed for years that I had to marry Billy to get my crystal back. :)  Years before, Granny had parceled out all the things in her china cabinet to the grandchildren.  The crystal was to be mine.  One day, Billy was making conversation with Granny and remarked on how beautiful the crystal was.  She said, "Well, you can have it.  I'll give it to you."   No, we weren't engaged yet at the time.  She'd just adopted Billy as one of her own. :)

Even before that, though, I knew that Billy had won her heart when "Alex" came along. Although the story was that Granny's original "Katherine" had been shortened to "Kitty" by her family because she loved the barn kittens so much, Granny had never had an indoor cat.  In fact, for all of my lifetime, she had been adamantly against pets of any kind.

Then Billy and his sister Sheryl found a tiny kitten at their apartment complex.  They weren't allowed to have pets, so they were frantically trying to find it a home.  I had just come home from an out-of-town trip, and Billy was in the living room telling me about the kitten.  "I really wanted to give it to Jen..." he said.

I waited for Granny to launch into her usual "inside pets are evil" speech.  Instead, she turned to me and said, "Well, I guess you need to go get your cat!"

You could have knocked me over with a feather. I think my eyeballs popped out and scraped the floor for a minute.

And so I brought Alex home.  Granny loved that cat and spoiled it rotten.  Craziest thing I ever saw!  Even crazier because Granny had poked so much fun at my Great-Aunt Jessie just a few years before.  When Daddy's cousin Anna Beth got a tiny teacup poodle, Aunt Jessie threatened to move out of the house.  She refused to have anything to do with the dog for the longest time.

When Anna Beth died of cancer several years later, though, Aunt Jessie took the dog as her own.  I never will forget the day we took Aunt Jessie to lunch, and then went back to her house to visit for a while.  Not long after we got to the house, I was quite curious to hear the microwave running.  We'd just had a substantial meal, and I couldn't imagine what Aunt Jessie was cooking.

Then she brought out a plate and put it down for the dog.  She'd been warming it's lunch in the microwave!

Granny thought Aunt Jessie had lost her mind.  And now I was sure Granny had lost hers.

But it turned out, she hadn't lost her mind, but her heart....both to the tiny little kitten and the Italian guy who'd brought him home.

What's In a Name?

Speaking of Italian...Billy is half Italian.  He looks and acts just like the Italian side of his family.   (Bayley does, too...I've always known that she strongly favored Billy and his mom, but when I saw his mom's younger sister, his Aunt Rosie, for the first time, it was as though I was seeing into the future, and seeing what Bayley would look like in 40 years. Wow.)

Billy got the Italian genes, but not the Italian name, a fact I'm still trying not to be bitter over.  His mom's maiden name is a really cool Italian surname.  Her mom's maiden name was an even cooler Italian surname.

I grew up not only having the most common first name of my generation (hence my children's less-than-common given names), but the 5th most common surname in America.  Growing up with the last name "Brown", I dreamed of marrying someone with a really fabulous last name.  Both my aunts had married into great names...one a strong German surname, and one a totally wonderful Italian one.

So what do I do?  Marry an Italian with the last name "Harris".  At least I did marry into a less common surname...went from the 5th most common surname in the country to the 15th most common.  Sometimes life is just funny. ;-)

Winter Wedding Wonderland

Billy and I were engaged in April.  The immediate question became when the wedding would take place.  Billy suggested fall.  Way too soon, with our crazy schedules, to put together a wedding in a town two hours away from home.  Then he suggested December.  Absolutely no way!  My birthday being so close to Christmas had caused me to decide as a young girl that I would under no circumstances get married in December. 

I had always wanted to get married in the spring.  But Billy didn't want to wait a year.  Neither of us wanted to do February, for a variety of reasons.

That left January. We were actually both happy about January.  For nine months, though, we heard dire predictions about our choice.  A lady in our office kept assuring us it was going to snow.  The weather would be bad and we'd have to cancel the wedding, or no one would be able to get there.  January was just not a good month for a wedding.

A week before our wedding, it seemed the weather might agree with her.

The ladies of my home church gave me a shower the Saturday before the wedding.  We got to Conway without issue, but Saturday morning we woke up to several inches of not only snow, but ice, on the ground, with more pouring out of the sky.  It was beastly.

The shower went on, however, and many brave ladies made it to my former boss's house for what turned out to be a beautiful shower.  My maid of honor, who was traveling from out of town, even made it, albeit a bit late. :)

The following Saturday, however, was sunny, unseasonably warm, and beautiful.  There could not have been more perfect "wedding weather" if we'd ordered it.

It certainly hasn't been all sunny weather since, but through all the "storms of life" that have come in these 17+ years, God has continually shown His faithfulness in every area.  I'm thankful for a husband who is not perfect (which is good, because the gal he married sure isn't!), but who is an example to his family of loving his wife as Christ loves the Church, who spoils his wife rotten, and who is a loving, attentive, godly Daddy to his children.


You've heard some of our story now...now I want to hear yours!  Tell me how you and your spouse met in the comments.  Or share about a memorable date.  I'd love to hear your stories!


Don't want to miss anything?  Please sign up in the box in the sidebar to receive posts by email, or take a minute to follow Ponderings of an Elect Exile on FacebookTwitter, and/or Pinterest.

You can also share this post using the share buttons below or the Pin It button above.
Thank  you! 

No comments: