....Iain and I went on our very first date.
It was a blind date. We were set up by friends and had been talking on the phone for a few weeks before our schedules allowed for an in-person meeting. The phone conversations were so much fun before we met (and after too.) They became fairly regular and came precisely at 8:50pm each night. I had evening commitments with my youth ministry job and would get so tickled to come home to that dependable call. (I should have recognized the foreshadowing of what it would be like to be married to an engineer.) He played it so cool -- but I could tell he was excited to talk to me too.
The night of our big date, I happened to be house-sitting for one of our matchmaker friends, Belinda. The doorbell rang and I casually sauntered to the door to greet him. Cute. Shorter than I imagined, but cute. I do remember he was wearing black boots. Deep in the August heat and he wore boots. I later found out that it gave him a little extra height. Ha.
I expected there to be awkwardness. There wasn't. It was like seeing an old friend who I'd really missed. We chit-chatted for a bit and then made our way to his car. Nice car. Clean too! And best of all he opened my car door....every single time I got in. My friends all said that wouldn't last. They were wrong. He opened my door for me every time for nine years. He was a gentleman, indeed ~ as well as a gentle man.
He took me to eat at Italian Villa, which was a lovely upscale, cozy restaurant. And Italian! How could he go wrong taking a Tartamella to an Italian restaurant. Smart man. When we walked into the restaurant, the Maitre D greeted me with, "Hey Maria!" It was one of my former students. I introduced him to Iain as he brought us to our table and lit our candle. "Your waiter will be with you in a moment."
As the waiter made his way to our table he made eye contact with me. Once again, "Hey Maria!" This guy was a family friend with whom I went to grade school. After we chatted and placed our orders, Iain looked at me and said, "Are you running for mayor or something?"
"Yeah. I kinda know a lot of people." Little did he know just how many. I think the 500+ people at our wedding might have clued him in. But he knew a lot of folks too. And strangely we knew a lot of the same people - who once they saw us together invariably would say, "Why didn't WE think of setting y'all up! Y'all are the perfect match." We were. But that truth unfolded with time.
After our lovely dinner and great conversation, he asked if I'd like to go for a walk at the Civic Center. We strolled along the boardwalk as the sun set and continued our wonderful conversations. Getting to know him was effortless, delightful and exciting. He took me back to the house where I was sitting, gave me a great hug and made a date for the next Monday, which was Labor Day. After that, there was no turning back. He won my heart. He still has it.
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And ANOTHER anniversary today has to do with our sweet daughter. Today is the 3rd anniversary of Gianna's Baptism. What a memorable day THAT was!!! Iain's parents came in to meet Gianna and celebrate her baptism and arrived just in time to hear that there was a Hurricane Warning for SW Louisiana. Yep. That was Hurricane Gustave. We didn't know what to do about the Christening plans since there was an evacuation plan in place and the storm was schedule to hit in two days. Iain was being summoned to work later that afternoon to get locked in the plant and thank heavens he managed to schedule his parents flight out the next morning.
Leaving Iain behind that day was one of the most mournful days of my marriage. I was scared to death to drive to Arkansas by myself with my 8 week old and not know if I'd have a house or husband to come home to. I sobbed as I drove all the way to Shreveport that night. It was the first time we were separated as a family during a time of crisis. Those feelings are very familiar to me now.