A Delightfully Funny Valentine
Have you ever had a delightfully funny valentine?
Several weeks ago, I posted to my Facebook page an old photograph of my wife and I. It was taken in July 1979. She was my guest at a wedding reception that my mom had prepared for my brother Gerald and his college sweetheart, Cotilda Quarterman.
Three weeks ago, I followed this photograph up with one of us, which was taken during the 2014 Christmas season. The caption on the second picture indicated we met 35 years ago.
Actually, we met on this very day, February 10, 1979. Today marks the beginning of our 36th year on this journey. We were brought together at a poetry reading by Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis at Macon Junior College. I was there to cover the event for my newspaper and she was there to experience Ruby and Ossie read delightfully funny love poems to each other in prelude to Valentine’s Day 1979.
Following the performance, two female reporters who worked at The Macon Telegraph came over and berated me for sitting through the performance perched on the steps on the side of the stage. I had sat on the steps because when I arrived there were no other seats available. This position turned out to be the best seat in the house. I was literally on stage with Ruby and Ossie. The day before, both women had worshipped with me at my church and had dinner at my parent’s house. I think my mom was trying to find me a wife.
So I wasn’t feeling it when Cyn came over and introduced herself to me. I had been interrupted twice from efforts to compose my lead paragraph in my head and attempts to put on my coat. I wasn’t up for another tongue lashing. Cyn had a pretty smile, a firm handshake and a genuine desire to get to know me as a person.
Angel Irving, Cyn’s best friend in town, came over and asked if I could take Cyn to the reception for Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis. They had planned to go together, but the evening had given Angel a headache.
On the spot, Angel, who I knew from television, but did not know personally had vouched for my reputation as a gentlemen. She assured Cyn that she would be safe in my company.
I did not want to go, but I could not resist that smile. We drove to the reception in my car. After I dropped her off at her apartment, she invited me in for tea and peanut butter on apple slices. We smiled and chuckled, two things I seldom did, until 2:00 a. m. Then she put me out.
Immediately after she closed the door to her apartment, I heard a voice that said, “She is the one.” I turned around to see if she was still standing in the door, or if someone was standing behind me. There was no one there. I convinced myself that I had not heard anything. Those kinds of things simply don’t happen in real life.
The next day, I invited her to my parent’s house for dinner. While we were having dinner, my step-father came in from work. She got up and introduced herself to him. He chuckled and said, “You won’t last thirty days. He always finds a reason to run them off.”
Cyn replied, “I bet you I will.”
Every day my step-dad saw her, he would ask: “Has it been a month yet?”
Cyn would reply, “It’s been five days,” or however many days it had been to that point.
This went on into March of 1979. Then one day when my step-dad came home, he didn’t ask her how long had it been. So Cyn rushed up to him and said, “Today is thirty days and I am still here.”
After thirty days, I took her over to meet my grandmother, Puella, her Spelman Sister. They embraced immediately. Shortly, after that she had a dream about her grandmother, Belle, so I took her home to the mountains of Northwest Georgia. Grandma Belle was in excess of 100 years old.
She was in bed with her last illness. When I came into the room, she beckoned me to her bedside. We embraced. She had a strong hug. I felt 100 years of love pouring out of her embrace. She looked at Cyn and said, “He’s a nice boy.” Within a couple of months, she closed her eyes for the final time.
We married two years later.
Cyn definitely has been the one!
She gave me a son so that I could extend my baseball playing career. She has been the one to raise our son into a gentleman and a scholar. She has been the one who was my eyes when I could not see. She has been the one to share the red carpet with me in times of celebration. She has been the one to fly off with me into the wild blue yonder both figuratively and literally. She has been one delightfully funny valentine.
Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist, the author of Paper puzzle and Justice in the Round. He can be contacted at haroldmichaelharvey.com.