In this post, I told how my family landed in Texas when I was 12.
Once we had settled in Texas, we soon began attending Colleyville Presbyterian Church, where my dad quickly struck up an acquaintance with the Coghlan family.
The oldest Coghlan boy and I were in separate Sunday school classes. I was very shy at that age, and really only felt comfortable with adults and small children. He was a nice kid, but since boys tend to bloom a little later than girls, I assumed he was younger than I was and didn’t have much occasion to interact with him.
His family came to dinner once, an event that I only dimly recollect. We had spaghetti.
The next year, we moved out to the country. The Coghlans joined us for a memorable Memorial Day, where my little future brother-in-law got a magnificent bloody nose in a water balloon fight. This was captured on an ancient video tape which is now a jealously guarded family heirloom.
My future sweetheart began to gain my interest – just a bit – as I realized he was very nearly my age, and had an easy friendly manner about him.
My dad teased me a little about him, made a joke about arranged marriages, and asked what I thought about marrying him. I was 14 now. Refusing to be ruffled, I coolly answered, “He’s a Christian young man. Why shouldn’t I, someday?”
After 2 years in the Fort Worth area, my dad was offered a job in Albuquerque, NM with a significant raise. We quickly made plans to move and invited several families for a farewell. The Coghlans came, and my future sweetheart taught me to play Scotland Yard. Again, I was struck by his comfortable, friendly manner and the utter lack of boy/girl tension. This was a nice, unassuming boy. Too bad we were moving away.
We moved to New Mexico in October ’87. Still thinking of the nice friendly boy I had finally gotten to know – just a little – I decided to write him a letter. But he was named after his dad; how could I make it clear who the letter was for and avoid an embarrassing mixup? I couldn’t come up with an easy answer, so instead I wrote a friendly chatty letter to Mr. Coghlan. Somewhere along the line, I casually inquired that if I were to someday write a letter to his oldest son, how might I address it? In retrospect, that might not have been a nice thing to do to a 14 year old boy. So subtle…I’m sure the family had a good laugh over it, and poor Perry probably blushed to the tips of his ears.
In June ’88, his family moved to Ohio. “hmmm,” thought I. “I’m homeschooling in a new area, with no friends. So is that Perry kid. I wonder if he’d like to write?” I wrote a letter. Eventually, he wrote back – I think.
In December ’88 my family moved again, this time settling in San Antonio. I was now turning 16. Young Perry and I exchanged another pair of letters.
The following summer, I flew alone to Oregon for 3 weeks to visit family and attend a cousin’s wedding. While there, my uncle casually mentioned he had heard that I might be getting married soon.
What?! I quickly ran through the possibilities, and realized he was referring to a young man who lived down the street. I was flattered by the young man’s attention, and mildly impressed with his credentials: he had a horse, a truck, and had posed for an Air Force ad in Reader’s Digest. But when my uncle mentioned him as marriage material, I was taken aback. I knew he was no such thing. I wouldn’t have even have called him a boyfriend, so why was I wasting his time and mine by allowing his attentions?
When I returned home, my admirer was conspicuously absent. Maybe he had figured out what kind of girl I wasn’t? Well, this was convenient. I made no attempt to re-establish contact. Instead, I wrote to Perry. My Perry.
Maybe it was forward of me, but I wasn’t actively pursuing him. At least, I didn’t look at it that way. I was being friendly to a young man who might be future husband material.
And so it began…
We wrote more and more letters. Replies were sparse, but arrived often enough to encourage me to keep writing. Years later I was chagrined to learn that he only wrote back when his dad threatened to spank him. At some point that changed – he likes to tell people it was when I sent him a recent photo – and he became a far more willing correspondent. Eventually we began talking on the phone. A lot.
Our conversations eventually began to touch upon weightier subjects: children, lifestyles, theology, love (notice how I just casually slipped that in?), homeschooling, parenting, plans for the future. The topic of marriage was broached.
In February of ’90, I graduated from Christian Liberty Academy, a popular provider of homeschooling curricula and oversight.
The following July, Perry and my dad split the price of a plane ticket for me fly up for a 3 week visit. Just 9 days into the visit, Perry dropped to one knee (the gesture made me giggle) and proposed. I was more than a little surprised at the hurry; apparently I was the only one who didn’t fully expect that I would arrive home as an engaged woman; at least I had expected it to take a little longer than 9 days. But why wait to make it official? We had no doubts that we were heading for marriage. After 3 days of sweet-talking and negotiations, all were agreed and we were engaged. It was July 30, 1990. We were both 17.
The rest of the story takes only a few lines to tell, but felt like forever to us:
For the next 2 years and 2 days we made frequent calls and wrote many letters (one of us wrote far more than the other. Ahem.) Visits were far less frequent: we saw each other just 4 more times before the wedding.
On August 1, 1992, at the ripe old age of 19, we were finally married in San Antonio by my father-in-law (or was he my future father-in-law?). After the wedding, we drove up to Austin and spent a night in the Marriott.
For our honeymoon, we spent several days seeing the sights in San Antonio. We stayed in a beautiful bed and breakfast right downtown, went to art museums, ambled along the Riverwalk, etc.
We drove down to Mexico for a day (our first time!), and brought back the standard souvenirs.
Finally, we bid farewell to my family, and began a leisurely drive up to Ohio to see my new home.