Tuesday, February 14, 2006

My Valentine

I still remember as if it were yesterday…

My brother Dave and I were setting out by train across Canada to Montreal. From there we were to board the SS Corinthia II bound for Liverpool, England. Our plan was to motorcycle around Europe for the next three months. Dave and I were fully planning on being alone as we embarked on our trip, so we were delightfully surprised when a group of well wishers from our youth group showed up to say bon voyage. I can’t remember all who were there, because my attention was on a young blonde girl who was there with a mutual friend. Her name was Susan.

A few months after Dave and I returned from our European tour, I was sitting on the front pew of our church during a Sunday evening youth emphasis service. There she was again. This time Susan was singing in a trio with her sister Nancy and our same mutual friend, Linda.

I was star struck! Susan’s eyes sparkled when she sang and her whole body moved in synch with the song. Her voice was magnetic, and I couldn’t take my eyes off her for the several minutes that she was in front of me.

After the service, I, with great apprehension worked up the courage to ask her if I could take her home. She agreed to the ride, but the young man who’d brought her didn’t. Strike one.

It was a couple of months later that Linda, who was also a fellow student at Bible College (now called Pacific Life Bible College), asked me if I would come to the home where she was living for Chinese food. It was my twentieth birthday and so I agreed.

I could hardly contain my excitement when I arrived after class, at Linda’s homestay family’s house and there was Susan. It was her home where Linda was living! The three of us had a great time celebrating my birthday, and I even got a birthday kiss from the beautiful young blonde as I left.

Although I was twenty years old, I was still too shy to ask Susan out for a date, so I asked Linda if she would ask her for me. My hope was that she would go with me to a big youth event that next Saturday evening. Still not having even confirmed our date, I prepared to pick her up all Saturday afternoon.

First I washed my 1965 Malibu SS, and then I began getting ready. Dressed in a brown suit and tie, Vitalis in my hair, Hi Karate on my cheeks, I was ready to pick up my beautiful young date. I was so nervous for our first date (one of the first in my life) so I had written down several things to talk about on a piece of paper which I'd tucked safely in my pocket.

My date was everything I’d hoped. Wearing a camel coloured dress, hair well coiffed in a beehive, a gentle White Shoulders fragrance on her soft skin, Susan was radiant. I was surprised how easy she was to talk to and how fun our time was together. Susan made it so natural to share about myself and learn about her. She helped me press past my natural fears, and drew me into conversation with ease.

After that night, it was simple for me to call and chat with my new girlfriend on the phone. I couldn’t think of anything or anyone else for weeks after we began dating. I don’t think there was a day that we didn’t see each other -- right up to our wedding two years later.

Susan and I were engaged on February 14, 1968 and happily married on February 28, 1969. She has been the love of my life, my valentine, since that first time we shared Chinese dinner on February 21, 1967. I can’t imagine a more wonderful relationship than we’ve enjoyed over these past thirty-nine years.

Thank you Lord for my perfect wife!

Happy Valentine's Day, Susan. I love you.


1 comment:

Caroline Gilbank said...

That is so sweet Pastor Barry! I love reading your entries and also enjoyed your book "The Secret of Happiness". You have been a big encouragement to Chris and I and our children, Justin and Ashleigh. We appreicate you!