I got an email from my dad today saying how loved the "XOXO pencils" I posted because they remind him of when he and my mom were dating. I love my parents story, and since love stories are also one of my favorite things, I thought I would share it here today.
To set the scene, it's the late 70's in Augusta, Georgia during Masters Week. If by chance you have never heard of Augusta, it is most known for being the home of the widely reknowned golf tournament, The Masters. The first full week of April every single year, Augusta practically shuts down. Schools close for spring break, restaurants are packed, tourists are everywhere, and a normal 20 minute drive across town now takes an hour and 1/2. If you're lucky :) This is the week to be out and to be seen.
It was after the tournament had ended for the day and my dad was out partying with his friends at a local restaurant/bar. My mom, visiting from Atlanta, was standing at the bar with one of her friends when my dad spotted her. Just like that, he knew. Pointing over to her, he announced to his friends that he was going to marry that girl. Now, it has to be said that my father was a declared bachelor at this time. In his early thirties, he was still living it up. Marriage, even to his then girlfriend (who by the way was sitting next to him at the time*) was a word he never brought up willingly. Despite being a huge sentimental romantic (sorry to let out the secret Daddy :)), he had succeeded in maintaining his "never going to settle down" reputation. So of course, his friends were shocked. Sure the girl at the bar was beautiful, but marriage? I can only imagine they then cut him off :)
Shocking or not, my dad waltzed up to the bar and started flirting. Luckily, he had 2 things on his side (besides him charm and good looks of course!) One, my mother was staying with a good friend of my dad's, and two, she was from out of town and therefore he could offer to "show her around town." Of course, like all good love stories, my mom kind of blew off my dad. But if nothing if not stubborn (and/or persistent,) my dad was determined to get a date from my mom.
As the party at the bar was wrapping up, my dad knew the only way to spend more time with my mom was to convince their mutual friend to come to an after party at one of his friends houses. *Side note, the mutual friend was also a party girl and my dad knew she couldn't say no too a good party. As expected, she didn't say no, leaving my mother no choice but to come along.
Seeing the opportunity, my father offered my mom a ride to the party, and since she didn't have a car and her friend was already in another car heading to the party, she said yes.
It didn't take long for them to fall in love and within a few days they were dating. Unfortunately, when the week ended, my mom had to go back home to Atlanta (about 2.5 hrs away from Augusta). Even so, they knew they had something here and decided to try it long distance.
Hundreds of miles driving back and forth, hours of long distance phone calls, and thousands of games of tic tac toe (which they would play over the phone together**) my mom brought up the big question.
"Where is this going?"
My mom wasn't dumb. She knew my dad had a reputation as a bachelor and she wasn't going to have a long distance relationship with him (or anyone) if it wasn't going somewhere. (My mom always jokes that the phone bills were just too expensive for that!)
And so, knowing she was the one, my dad asked her to marry him that night- roughly 6 months after they had first met. My mom said yes, and they were married the following spring in Augusta (in the same church that roughly 30 years later my father walked me down the aisle to J so we could exchange the same vows, by the same pastor.) And while there have been ups and downs (like any relationship) they are still happily married to this day!
I just love the simplicity of it. How my dad just knew and wouldn't let anything stop him from having the love of his life. And the destiny of it all! For my mom to have been in that same bar, that same night, and that my dad saw her from all the way across the room. It was fate.
*probably not the best way to be broken up with, but I'm guessing she got the hint since they stopped seeing each other after that moment.
** like I said, they played tic tac toe together over the phone when they were apart and because of that, the game has always been special to them. My mom has a tic tac toe pin (with diamonds as the "O's") and matching hoop earrings that were a gift from my dad, and at our last house, my mom and dad played a game in the wet concrete of our front porch- marking the home forever with their love. It's so cute to see them play together. My dad gets this silly grin and my mom turns right back into a smitten twenty three year old- it's beautiful to see.