What a glorious day! The sunshine is so bright it feels like its beams are shooting right out of me! Or maybe I’m just twitterpated. It’s not any ordinary day. It’s happy Thursday! The day where my kids go to grandma’s, and I have Date Night. We’ve been dating about a year, and we’ve been taking turns doing surprise dates for each other, and tonight is Joe’s night. You see, he is the first guy to ever reciprocate. Oh, I can hardly contain it.

A Queen

On the front door of his house is a sign that says, “Enter my Queen.” I want to peek slowly so as to stretch out the suspense. I don’t see anything at first. Opening the door wider, I see a trail of rose petals on the floor heading to the bedroom. (PAUSE – not what you think.) On the bed is a long ornate gown with lots of gold and lace, made for a queen. Next to it is a note that says, “Please put this on and await here for my arrival.” “I get to be queen!” It’s every girl’s dream. The dress looks like it comes from Shakespeare’s time, and it’s so lovely I am afraid to mess it up. I quickly shimmy in and wait for him. I hear his truck arrive in the driveway and some rustling at the front door.

“Good evening my Queen,” he calls from the distance, “Enter the parlor.” When I walk in, my mouth goes agape with awe at the sight before me. My King is all dressed regally from head to toe, including the tights, looking super dapper. Next to him was his sister dressed as a chauffeur. She bowed at the waist and said, “Good evening, madam.”
This might sound unusual to the rest of you. This isn’t unusual fare for me. Joe and I often did these kinds of dress-up dates, so I am still not really sure what we are going to do. Joe leans over, putting a blindfold on and whispering in my ear, “Trust me.”

He leads me to the car, carefully tucking me in and go for a drive. I sat quietly in the back seat soaking in the sounds of the street and the traffic, listening intently for any clues as to where I could be. Soon, I felt the familiar bump, bump as we headed toward my friend Rosemary’s house. When he took the blindfold off, we were standing in front of the glimmering koi pond marveling at the scenery as we crossed the bridge into her lovely tea house. The familiar song of Yanni, In the Morning Light was playing, and immediately I was carried back to the memory.

A Ring

You see, he was recreating the entire date of my first surprise. He had food laid out with a nice scented candle for ambiance. Then he softly begins reading, “The Table Where the Rich People Sit.” It’s a children’s book I had read to him that touched his heart. It’s about a little frustrated little girl who wants to know how her family is going to make money and soon learns that all the richness in her life has nothing to do with money. Hearing Joe read it softens and melts my heart, as I cling to this moment in such gratitude for all the beauty I have had this year. I remember thinking to myself, “I am so blessed!”

When the date was over, we clean up and head over the bridge. Joe says something about a new chapter in our lives and gets down on one knee. Wait…wait…wait! What is he doing? Is he doing what I think he is doing? He said he wasn’t ready…am I ready? Oh no…what’s he saying…shouldn’t I be listening to this? Now, what is he doing? He is fumbling around reaching in his tights for something…oh my, is this a sight to see. (Nope, not too romantic watching a guy fishing through tights.) He had tucked the ring box in there, and ummmm…it had moved down. He finally retrieves the treasure, opens the box and asks, “Will you marry me?” All that mattered was yes, yes, yes! I said as I flung my arms around his neck. He kissed me, and yes, there were sparks and butterflies and all the things that fairy tales are made of. The stars are brighter and the scene more clear, and my heart is more full than ever.

As we walk into the house, there stands my bonus daughter smiling widely with Rosemary right beside her with glitter in her eyes as she says, “I can’t believe how perfect you two are for each other.” Yes, we really are perfect for each other.

Joe & Marie — The Rest of the Story

After almost 25 years together, it’s still a resounding YES.

BEFORE YOU THINK IT’S A FAIRY TALE, let me tell you, “The rest of the story… .” We didn’t only do dates this first year. We have done it EVERY year subsequently. Until this day, we do a weekly date. We even do a Facebook Live Cooking show every other Saturday to keep enjoying each other. Surprising each other in various ways keeps the fun alive in our relationship. Sometimes it’s a note or a token like special pajamas. Sometimes we go out lavishly on the town, and sometimes we snuggle up to football or Hallmark. What we do to create this happy ending is intentionally spending time with each other daily, and intentionally letting each other know that we are the most important things in our lives. Yes, we still have our irritating times and challenging communication—we aren’t perfect–we’ve just built a system that works for us.

HAPPILY EVER! REMEMBER, it’s not Happily Ever After until it is.

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