Couple glad to say “I Do” again
At age 18, a young woman was working in Des Moines as a page for the Legislative Service Bureau. She was only months away from her high school graduation. After developing a comfort level with her superiors, her assistant supervisor decided to introduce her to a young man who was stationed in Great Lakes, Illinois as a United States Navy SeaBee. This young man was stationed with her assistant supervisor’s fiance. After a trip to the Senate, she returned to the office only to find her assistant supervisor handing her the phone. On the other end was a young man offering his name and information he had been told about her. Blushing, this young woman responded to his questions, laughed at some of his demeanors and by the time the conversation had ended, they had exchanged phone numbers to continue the conversation during non-working hours.
A week passed, and this young woman had heard nothing. Her phone hadn’t rang, her email had not notified her of anything other than upcoming bills that were due, and her mailbox remained empty. Annoyed, she gathered the strength to call and leave a voicemail that cannot be put in print.
Another week passed, and still no response, no call, no email, no letter. Again she picked up the phone and called and to her surprise there was a pleasant hello at the other end. Without hesitation she went off the handle, yelling at this young man telling him how rude it was to take a girl’s number and never call, how rude it was to not write. After her tangent, she could hear a slight chuckle in the young man’s voice. This only made her see more red. Before she was able to start using inappropriate language, he asked her why nobody had told her he would be at 29 Palms in California on a field exercise putting together a fleet hospital in the middle of the desert where there was no cell phone reception.
Completely embarrassed, the young woman apologized for her abruptness and explained how she would understand if he never wanted to speak to her again. The young man again chuckled and told her how he appreciated her determination and that a situation like this would never happen again. As it turned out he left the day after they had their first conversation. He had no means of contact with anybody but his unit. The whole concept made her take a step back and realize that a mistake had been made and it had been made on her part alone.
After that, they talked every night. Their conversations went for hours. It didn’t matter that he had PT in the morning or that she had to be to work, they talked about life, future, goals, and sometimes things as simple as what went on during the day. These talks started in the month of April.
June rolled around and the young woman had finally decided she was comfortable enough to make the 6 hour drive to meet this young man, but she wasn’t going to do it alone. The second weekend of June her best friend and she loaded the car and headed to Great Lakes, IL for the weekend.
After a ridiculously cold trip to Six Flags, the time had finally come for this young woman and man to meet. The girls drove to his house where he stayed with two of his comrades. When he walked out of the door, her eyes grew large, her heart started to flutter, and she started to look at things in a different perspective. He shook her hand, she met his roommates, and they all loaded into the car to have a night out together.
As the night went on, there was definitely a chemistry that became evident to everyone around. They spent time with the group and they spent time with just each other trying to learn everything they could in such a short time period. Finally standing by the elevator, he took the chance, and he kissed her.
To this day she claims that she knew at that moment, he was something a lot more special than she left Des Moines expecting him to be. A brick wall, if you will is what she felt like she hit, but the stars she saw were simply…. Amazing.
The next day was bittersweet. The young woman and her best friend had to return to Des Moines. The goodbye was a lot harder than expected. They hadn’t even hit the Iowa/Illinois border and he was calling her to make sure she was having a safe trip. Her best friend knew that she had found love. It was unclear as to when they would be able to see each other again, but they both knew that it had to be soon.
On July 4th weekend, again the young woman loaded her car and headed back to Great Lakes; this time alone. Nobody saw or was prepared for what was coming next. After one full day of 4th of July activities on base, the young man proposed to her. Without hesitation and with tears in her eyes, she said yes. She knew she had found love at first sight.
Again the young woman had to leave to head back to her place in Des Moines, this time harder than the last. That night she called him to let him know she had arrived safely and he asked her to make a trip back to his home in Pennsylvania to meet his parents the first week of August. She was nervous, but knew if she was going to marry this man, it had to be done! They went to Pennsylvania, met his parents, and everyone seemed happy.
It was during this trip he drove her up into the mountains, took her to his favorite spot as a child growing up, got down on one knee and presented her with a small black box. As the sun set over the mountain, it had become official. In a split second everything became real, and again with tears she wrapped her arms around him and could not wait to spread the news that she was going to become a Mrs.
After their trip to Pennsylvania, they decided that the whole 6 hour distance thing had to change. He made the trip back to Des Moines with her, rented a U-Haul and packed her things. They stopped in her hometown on the way back to grab a few more meaningful things, he had the opportunity to meet her family and they returned to Great Lakes.
On August 31, 2000, on their lunch breaks, they went to the Justice of the Peace’s house, said their vows and became Mr. & Mrs.; in just enough time to get back to work. With no family, no white dress, no flowers, no friends, no cake or reception and dance, they entered into vows till death do they part. Even shortly after this special day, a feeling of guilt had set in on the newlyweds. The idea of not having family around to witness this incredibly special day wore on the couple. Recently, they eliminated that guilt.
This year on August 10th, this couple renewed their vows and promises to each other. A lot has changed in 13 years. They now share two children together, they have moved six times, and they have found home in her hometown.
Their renewal of the vows ceremony gave them everything they didn’t have 13 years ago. Their families were present, she got to wear a beautiful white gown, they had their closest friends stand up with them, and their son and daughter had the most important job of best man and maid of honor. Their daughter played the keyboard for the wedding march, his father did the ceremony, and the flowers were everything she had ever dreamed of. They had an outdoor ceremony looking out over the Mississippi River on Able Island and everything was absolutely perfect.
The couple agreed to write their own vows to each other this time around. She wrote a poem and she cried along with everyone present at the ceremony when he pulled out his acoustic guitar and sang a song he wrote for her. It could not have been a more perfect ceremony.
While 13 seems like an odd and unlucky number for some, the bride and groom put a lot of thought into doing it this year. Her grandfather was diagnosed with dementia 2 years ago and since he would be walking her down the aisle along with her father, it was important to her that he still be able to do this. It had been 3 years since they had seen his parents since they now live in West Virginia and are both very busy with their jobs and continuing education and both of their children had reached an age where this would be a day they would never forget.
After the ceremony, they held a reception at Lakeside for all of their friends and family. They ate, danced, and socialized, and for the first time ever, both families were brought together to remember the importance of love and to prove that it really can happen at first sight.
On August 31st of 2013, I celebrated our 13 year anniversary with my best friend, an incredible father…. my husband, Aaron Reed and our two children Kaleigh and Kaleb. While like any marriage we have had our ups and downs, but through it all we have fought for the one thing we both believe in with our whole hearts and that my friends….is love. While I stressed about everything coming together for our renewal of the vows ceremony and reception, I could not have asked for a better group of family and friends to be there to celebrate with us the day we both deemed absolutely perfect. So don’t forget to Live to Laugh and to Love because that is what gets us through the toughest and the greatest of all times.
By Angela Reed, Register Freelance Writer