Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day - Valentine!

Today I would like to say Happy Valentine's Day to my very best friend, my wonderful husband, Paul. I am so blessed to have him in my life. He is so supportive of me in everything that I set my hand to do. He is always there for me, and quite frankly, he spoils me. I don't know how I would ever make it without him. Just recently I sat down, and put on paper some highlights from the day we met, until now. I am including just some short glimpes into that story here today.

The first threads in the tapestry of our love began to mingle on April 21, 1993. My husband, Paul, is from Upstate New York, and I am from Indiana. At a conference in Dayton, Ohio, eight hours from Paul’s home, and two hours from mine, we both convened, and the shuttle on the loom of our love began to weave our story.

On that day in April, we exchanged addresses and pictures, and I said good-bye, for the first time, to the man that I was destined to marry. I walked away from him that day with lots of questions and doubts, truly wondering if I would ever see or hear from this young man again. Through the years, as we’ve looked back, we have been amazed over and over again how that two people, who lived hundreds of miles apart, attended a convention of nearly 5,000 people, whose paths casually crossed, and our lives were changed forever. Meeting him that day was no “twist of fate”, it was providence.

Over the months our relationship had grown stronger and deeper and in October 1993, I flew to New York to be with his family for the weekend. In past conversations we had spoken of marriage, and I was somewhat suspicious that he might propose soon. In anticipation of this event, I wrote my answer, which would be “yes”, in the form of a poem. (I later stitched this poem in cloth…my own tapestry, of sorts, which now hangs on our dinning room wall, and gave it to him as a gift for Valentine’s Day.) As I suspected, on this visit, he did propose, but it wasn’t just any ordinary proposal. You must understand I’m married to an extraordinary man. He had a master plan. For dinner he took me to a lakeside restaurant with candlelight, live music, and fine cuisine. Dinner was delightful and the he decided to take me for a drive. Before we ever met, he would often drive through the country, enjoying nature, and one night he happened upon this “spot”. It was on the top of a mountain that overlooks Canandaigua Lake (one of the Finger Lakes), and off in the distance you can see the lights of the city. He decided then, when he ever proposed, this would be the place. Of course, I did not know it, but this scene would be the backdrop of our destination that night, October 23, 1993. When we arrived he asked me to wait in the car for a few minutes, and told me that he would come and get me when he was ready. After what seemed like an eternity and a lot of thumping in the trunk, he returned for me. As I got out of the car and turned around, what greeted me made me melt. There along side this country lane, he had set up a table covered in white linen with a candle burning there, and a dozen roses lying on the table. To the side was a chair draped in a white cloth as well, illuminated by white, battery operated Christmas lights. He guided me to the chair and told me that this chair was for me. I don’t think I will ever forget how I felt in that moment, on a mountainside in upstate New York. This man had done all of this for me, and I felt like a queen. He knelt down on one knee, took my hand, and with trembling voice, and tear brimmed eyes, he asked me the most important question of our lives. As I mentioned earlier, I had written a poem as my answer, which was quite lengthy. It wasn’t until I got to the last line that he found out my answer. He has admitted that it was a long wait. That day threads of lasting memories, and total commitment became part of the tapestry of “us”, and every thought of those moments strengthens the very fiber of what we were and what we have become.

I don’t think that I will ever forget the way that I felt two days later when he took me to the airport to fly back to Indiana. Those were the days when everyone could go to the boarding area and wait for the plane to depart. We spent those last few moments together, and then the moment to say good-bye had arrived. We clung to each other until we could cling no longer, and through our tears we said good-bye. Carrying a dozen roses, memories of a marriage proposal, and a breaking heart, I turned and walked away from my husband-to-be. It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I boarded the plane, took my seat, and then raised and lowered the window shade three times to signal that I loved him. We backed away from the terminal, took to the skies, and more threads, dark colors mingled with bright, found their place in this showpiece that we continue to weave.

On September 24, 1994, another golden thread was added to our tapestry, and our journey of married life began. I wouldn’t trade one day of it, for the journey has been remarkable. Oh yes, there have been tough places, like uprooting our little family to relocate to Indiana and all that that entails: new job, new home, etc. We’ve faced hospital stays with two infant children, wondering if they would live through the night, had our financial reverses, and wondered if the sun would ever shine again. But through it all, the threads that we are weaving just seem to make the fabric grow stronger. You see, he still brings me flowers, or surprises me with my favorite candy bar. I tuck a love note in his lunch box, start his car on a cold winter morning, or fix him a candle-light dinner, served after our four children are tucked snuggly in bed. We also regularly give each other S.H.M.I.L.Y. (See How Much I Love You) gifts. We purchase little gifts for one another and leave them for each other in obscure places for the other one to find. We still like to go on dates, since we didn’t get to do much of that in our “dating” days. We work hard at having these alone times, and over-night get-a-ways as often as we possibly can. In addition to all of these things, we still keep in touch very closely throughout each day. The thread of communication was securely woven into the foundation of our relationship. It is one that has not unraveled or frayed, but has grown stronger with every passing day.

Everyday I am amazed at this beautiful tapestry we are creating. It is a piece of artistry that will adorn the passageway of my children’s memories for the rest of their lives. It is an heirloom of love and devotion that we believe they will aspire to pass on to their children. Day after day, thread after thread we are weaving a piece of art that is second to none. A delicate piece of art is beginning to emerge…and it is a masterpiece!

I love you, Honey! Happy Valetine's Day!

Be sure to check out the next post about our Dinner Party!


Patty said...

What a great love story and so beautifully written.

LaDonna said...

How beautiful!!! What a great post, and I'm sure Paul's eyes were tear brimmed while reading it. Mine sure were!!!

Ronda said...

Paul is one romantic man...I enjoyed reading this post! Your love shows through! Happy Valentine's Day!

Bobbie said...

You've told me part of your story before but actually had tears in my eyes reading this. What a wonderful story.

Leah said...

Catrena - what a great story! Thanks for sharing!!

Paul said...

Thank you Sweetheart! You did such an awesome job of putting things down on paper. You're an awesome wife and I love you with all my heart! I'm so glad I married you!

Mary Ellen said...

Oh my word - that was not only beautifully written but such a great story...I can't believe you didn't win first place. Their story must have been something else to have beaten yours because I think that is one of the neatest love stories I've read that wasn't fiction! "-) Great blog!!!!