Monday, May 26, 2014

Who Did He Ask to Dinner?!

I was a senior at Piedmont Bible College in January of 1979 when this tall, handsome student came walking across the parking lot on a Wednesday evening.  We had a tradition at PBC on Wednesday evenings.  The guys would wear suits and it was a night for asking a girl to dinner.  Girls would sit in the windows watching to see who would walk over to Lee Hall, and if the guy didn’t usually accompany a girl to dinner then the tongues would fly as the girls tried to guess each new young man’s date.
On that night the new male student who walked into the sight of all those wondering girls was Gary Moore.  And walking back across the parking lot with Gary was me!  I would say lucky me, but I don’t believe in luck so in keeping with this being Bible college I’ll say that I was blessed!  HaHa!  But I was and I still am today……..blessed to still be walking with this wonderful man, Gary Moore.

My eye had been on Gary ever since I walked into the student center on our small North Carolina campus in January a year earlier and had instantly noticed this new second semester student.  He fit several of my very serious future husband requirements, the first two being:  1) he was tall  2) he was handsome.  Very spiritual, huh?

It was also convenient that I was the student council secretary/treasurer and that I had access to the student mail boxes………in which I inserted special announcements……and in which I also took a look at Gary’s mail to see if he was getting letters from girls.  Yes, I did that.  And yes, he was getting such letters.  So I gave up hope on ever attracting Gary’s attention.  I decided that it would be friendship that we would share.  But I sure did still notice him.

Things happened……I dated another guy during the fall of my senior year.  And Gary kept going home to Bryson City on the weekends….to see girls, I thought, but in reality he was helping out in his home church.  He actually attended a mission’s retreat that Piedmont held at Groundhog Mountain that fall because I encouraged him to come.  I didn’t know that he thought I was wanting him to come so I could spend time with him, so when I drove up with the other guy that I was starting to date, Gary nearly decided that he had already had enough of me.  

My boyfriend and I broke up before Christmas.  And just before I left to go home for the holidays, Gary came in the dining hall and gave me a Christmas stocking!  Except he also gave one to my best friend Janet!!  Now I was confused!  But when I returned from Christmas break, Gary finally asked me to dinner on that Wednesday night……and all the girls sitting in the windows were surprised that it was me walking to dinner with Gary.

We never looked back from that point forward.  Love was blossoming for both of us.  But soon there was a big bump in the road.   A huge bump for me, and could have been for us……..except for the integrity of this man I was getting to know so well.  

I noticed that something weird was going on with my neck.  I couldn’t quite define it but things weren’t feeling right in there at all.  Before long I noticed that my neck was wanting to pull uncontrollably to the right.  I tried to hide it but eventually it became noticeable to everyone.  And the pain became severe.  My dear friend Janet talked to my parents, and I ended up going to different doctors in order to find out what was going on with my muscles.  It was a challenge to finish my last semester of college, especially writing my senior thesis, with my neck pulling and the pain being so bad.  Plus the drugs the doctors put me on were strong…….things like Valium and other calming drugs in an effort to quieten those muscle spasms.

Doctors didn’t have any idea about what was happening to me.  Several blamed stress, so they put me on some pretty strong drugs for that.  Nothing was helping at all.  I walked around most of the time with my right hand raised up to my neck.  Holding the back of my neck helped relieve the spasms a little.  I hung on for as long as I could, finishing my course work and knowing that I could graduate.  But the pain was so strong and the pulling so severe that just before I was to march in our graduation ceremonies I ended up in the hospital.  

That was a tough time for me, but it was also a relief to be able to rest.  It was so sad that I didn’t get to march with my class.  I’ll never forget Dr. Drake, Piedmont’s president, coming to my hospital room along with Dean Reinert to present my diploma to me as I lay there in bed.  I think that was a first for them!

Mom and Dad were there as well, worried about me and wondering what was wrong with their girl.  And also there by my side was the man that had come to pick me up for dinner on that Wednesday night four months earlier.  He wore a suit on my graduation day, much like the suit he had worn on our first date, except now he sat on the side of my bed and we both smiled broadly…….just as if I was standing in that auditorium along with the rest of my graduating class to receive my degree.

On a fairly superficial level, my illness was exceptionally hard for me as a young woman.  It changed my appearance, making me look weird as my neck pulled and as I held my right hand around my neck a large part of the time.  I didn’t feel pretty at all.  And pain took a huge toll as well.  It’s hard to be your best or look your best when you’re absorbed in pain.  So on that level alone, I wondered if Gary would stick by me or if he would be turned off.

And what about the future?  We didn’t even have a diagnosis and had no idea what the long term would hold for me……..for my body and my health.  What man would want to venture into that arena?  Gary and I were not engaged……he wasn’t bound to me in any way like that.  Yet there he was, faithful to me with his support and his love and his attention.  He never made me feel weird or ugly or a risk too great to take. 

I moved home to West Virginia to live with my parents, and tried to get well.  Doctors still didn’t know what was wrong.  Gary still wanted to be with me when he could travel from college to visit.  He saw the pain and the awful reactions to drugs and the huge unknown, but he stayed by my side.  And one day he even asked me to marry him!!  I didn’t waste a second before saying yes.  Time and rest helped me get better, but the effects of my illness were still somewhat visible……….and I could definitely feel them.  

We had a beautiful wedding, where I even sang a surprise song to Gary. 

            “God has given you to me, as my loving friend.
              From beginnings love has grown, may its growing never end.
              From beginnings love has grown, may it never end.
              God is joining here today, families and friends.
              Yours are mine and mine are yours, how the richness blends!
              Yours are mine and mine are yours, how the richness blends!
              You are handsome in my eyes, I treasure and adore.
              But my heart determines this, I must love God more.
              Though I love you oh so well, I must love God more.
              I love you where you’re strongest, your strength can help me stand.
              I love you where you’re weakest.
              There I’ll care, I’ll help you there, and give your heart a helping hand.
              God has given you to me, as my loving friend.
              From beginnings love has grown, may it never end.”

So we began our life together.  Today we celebrate 35 years of sharing this journey together and with God.  We have three beautiful children.  We have tons of memories.  We have each other still.

Doctors know now that I have something called Dystonia.  I will always feel the effects of this muscle disease in my neck but I am so very much better than I was back in 1979.  Gary didn’t know this would be the outcome, though.  Yet he loved me regardless, and he showed his strength and integrity when I needed it most.  He’s still doing that today, and I am forever grateful.  

36 years ago I walked across that parking lot with that tall, handsome man.  35 years ago I walked down the aisle to say “I do.”  And I am so thankful that I did!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


Aaron went to see Godzilla with his day group on Friday.  He loved it, of course.  It’s a typical big monster disaster movie full of excitement and fighting and suspense and noise and water and fire and bombs……perfect for Aaron!  So perfect, in fact, that since he saw it on Friday he has wanted to see it again……with me. 

That is why I made the decision to let Aaron stay home today for a fun day with Mom.  The most fun part for Aaron, of course, is that we went to see Godzilla.  I was happy to do this as I also like disaster movies, up to a point.  I was game.  Plus I knew that school was still in session today, so hopefully when we went to see Godzilla it wouldn’t be very crowded.  That’s in case Aaron yells or laughs or claps or any number of other very annoying crowded theater behaviors he might exhibit.  I have experience.  Too much experience.

When I told him on Monday that he could stay home on Wednesday and that we would go see Godzilla, he was very happy.  And I was in no way surprised when he asked me what time the movie started.  I told him that it started at 12:30, and then as if on cue he asked, “So what time are we leaving?” 

“We’ll leave a little before 12:00,” I told him.

“So what time will that be?” he asked.

I told him I wasn’t exactly sure.   I was trying to stretch him beyond his normal I-have-to-know-an-exact-time way of thinking.  It didn’t work.

I was the one being stretched as Aaron repeatedly asked me what time we would leave.  An EXACT time, Mom!  Don’t you know anything?  

OK, Aaron.  We’ll leave at 5 till 12:00.  He was satisfied.

Then I heard, “So we’re leaving at 5 till 12:00?” an untold number of times.  Seriously.

And this morning, first thing, it was, “Mom, you said we’re leaving at 5 till 12:00.”  He said this as a matter-of-fact statement, but I knew he was also checking to see if the time was the same……..because sometimes he knows that Mom changes her mind.  So it was a question as well as a statement.

I told him yes, that we would leave at 5 till 12:00.  But just to be sure, he later walked into the kitchen and promptly asked, “We’re leaving at 5 till 12:00?”  I told him yes, and then he continued, “I need to take my glasses and my watch to the theater.”  

“Why do you need to take your watch?” I asked.

“To see when the movie starts,” he answered.  “If I don’t have my watch I get impatient.” 

This makes perfect sense to Aaron.

During the morning, he checked in with me several more times.  “We’re leaving at 5 till 12:00?”  I told him yes, but then I had to muddy the water a little by telling him that we might leave a little earlier than that in order to go by Wal-Mart to check on a DVD he wanted. 

Sure enough, it was about 11:40 when I asked him if he was ready to go.  “It’s not 5 till 12:00,” he flatly responded.  

Of course.

But I reminded him about the DVD search at Wal-Mart, so he was agreeable to that plan and off we went, with his glasses on and his watch pushed halfway up his arm in typical fashion.

Soon we were at the theater, tickets purchased as well as a large buttered popcorn and our free water…….and Aaron a little uncertain about sharing his large buttered popcorn with Mom.  The theater was very uncrowded so I was very happy.  Aaron sat down and then put his popcorn on the floor beside him…….away from me.  I didn’t say a word because I knew what he was doing.  He was waiting for the trailers of upcoming movies to finish.  He will not eat popcorn during the trailers.  Then came all the other preliminary stuff about the surround sound, etc……….and still the popcorn sat on the floor.

You do not eat popcorn until the movie starts, silly people.  Popcorn is for the movie……NOT for movie trailers and advertisements and whatever else is on before the movie starts.  He put a napkin on his lap just right…….and some on the empty seat beside him……and still more napkins in his pocket.  Aaron would glance down at the bucket of large buttered popcorn as if to see if it was still where he placed it, but not one kernel went into his mouth until the movie actually began to play.  Then he bent over and retrieved his large buttered popcorn, and grudgingly shared it with me.  We were off and running.

The movie was as I predicted…….loud, exciting, overly dramatic, unbelievable, and just a great old disaster movie.  Aaron’s favorite!  He did very well throughout.  I only had to hush him maybe 10 times.  Very good!

As we left the theater, Aaron pointed to the bathrooms, where he hurried in while I waited for him.  He didn’t use the bathroom, but had to wash his hands……because he had buttered popcorn grease on them, even though he wiped them and his mouth off repeatedly with the huge pile of napkins that he had strategically placed around him.  Doesn’t matter.  He will wash his hands after a movie, do or die.

We discussed Godzilla all the way to the car, and then all the way to CD Tradepost, where I took him to look for the DVD that is on his radar now.  At least we won’t be talking about 5 till 12:00 anymore, I thought.

The DVD wasn’t in stock, so I went ahead and ordered it from a store across town.  They will ship it straight to our house.  Aaron listened to me give our address, and then asked the clerk, “So when will it be delivered?”  She told him in two or three days.

“So what day is that?” he asked me as I stood there paying for it.  I told him it might be Friday or Saturday…….MIGHT!

Here we go, I thought.  We just finished with the 5 till 12:00 business and he’s already on another countdown.  

We got in the van and as I backed up he asked, “So it’ll be here in two days?  Or three days?”


“Will it be Friday, or Saturday?”

Oh brother. 

One thing I do know……it won’t come soon enough!