By the time Terry and I met each other’s parents, we were telling them we wanted to get married. We received mixed reactions from the parents:
• One parent said we should wait a year so that people would be more accepting.
• One parent was ecstatic and ready to “put the broom down” for us to jump right away.
• One parent was extremely cautious and protective.
Terry took me to South Carolina to meet his mother. He didn’t tell her that I was coming. He didn’t even tell her that he was coming until we pulled into the driveway. That was nerve wrecking. As a mother of grown men, I can imagine what she was thinking meeting this woman she had never heard of as her (recently) widowed son told her that he wanted to marry her. It was awkward, but she was kind. Terry’s Godmother was more direct. She was probably asking the questions that she and his mom had discussed; but she was the spokesperson for the mother/Godmother duo. Terry’s Godmother said, “Don’t get married for the sex.” LOL. Sounds like something I would say to my son. I love talking to older ladies; they don’t have time to beat around the bush. She didn’t ask me this directly, but privately, she wanted Terry to assure her that he had remained faithful to Mia and I wasn’t his “side piece”. I don’t mind direct questions. It was however uncomfortable feeling like I was getting the “side eye” from people.
Terry’s family and friends didn’t know me. They were protective of him. I was a single mom with 3 children. Terry was an honest, kind, giving widower 8 years my senior. So, without knowing anything about me or who I am, I can see why people were protective. I just wasn’t accustomed to being scrutinized. I remember a moment when we were out to eat, Terry left the table and his mom asked me how I felt about him. I responded with, “He’s nice, he’s a great man, he’s sweet”. I don’t know why, but I was nervous. The rest of dinner, I kept admonishing myself for not saying how I really felt for Terry. It wasn’t until we were getting ready to leave to travel back to Florida that I set the record straight. I pulled her to the side and said, you asked me how I felt about Terry and the truth is, “I love him.” She smiled and gave me a hug. She said, “That’s what I wanted to hear.”
As I stated in a previous post, Terry and I were (well) aware of how grown we were. I had “grown woman” responsibilities which included supporting two grown children through college. Terry had “grown man” college debt from putting himself through college. We didn’t NEED anyone’s approval but there were some people whose support was vital to me. My mom was one of those people. My mom has loved me through every stage of my life. Even stages that were hurtful and embarrassing for her. She didn’t waiver in her love for me or faith in my future. When I gave birth to my first child at 15 years old, she lovingly and patiently helped equip me to be Davion’s mom. When I got pregnant with my second child at 18, she helped prepare me to be a mother of 2. When I got married and almost immediately started having marital problems, she coached and prayed me through that season. When I found myself divorced and pregnant with my baby girl, she loved and prayed me through a very dark season. I knew that she (more than anyone else in this world) had my (and her grandchildren’s) best interest at heart. She wasn’t afraid to tell me the truth and I knew she would see anything I may have missed. When I told her that I thought Terry was ‘the one’ she said, “We’ll see”.
My dad on the other hand had been trying to marry me off for years. Every time I saw him in person, I knew my dad was going to ask me, “Have you ever thought about giving love a second chance?” Every time! My dad is a man of repetition. He has a lot of crazy sayings that he repeats. To know my dad is to know what he’s about to say. I knew my dad would love Terry. I knew because Terry loved me. The moment my dad saw how Terry treated me, I knew he’d be a fan. Plus, my dad knows me. He knows that I was independent and extremely protective over my heart. He saw a good man with good intentions and he was ecstatic for me. I needed that! I needed to have someone as excited as I was. He doesn’t know it, but I would call him when I felt (particularly) beat up and his enthusiasm about Terry and me would calm me. My dad is the best cheerleader ever! I love that man.
Although I cared very much about how my parents felt. My parents have known me long enough to know that once I set my mind to do something; they might as well figure out a way to support it. Terry has a similar tenacity. May we both always set our minds to do the same-something. I had set my mind to marry Terry, so having Ms. Liz, Terry’s mom, and my parents’ support was a wonderful blessing and an answer to our prayers.
Terry’s Thoughts (T2):
My introduction to Faith’s parents was a combination of “Meet the Browns” and “Criminal Minds.” Faith was the first person that I ever dated whose parents were divorced, but were still cordial with each other. In my family, most of the marriages ended “‘til death do you part” and most of the people that I dated when I was single either had intact households or one parent was completely out of the picture. This was unfamiliar territory for me as I couldn’t relate to the dynamic that she and her siblings lived with regarding their parents’ relationship. I could try relating, but I would ask questions of her about how her parents would possibly react to me once they met me. I was always taught to “Be Prepared” (yes, I was a Boy Scout) and “prepare for the worst and expect the best.” When dealing with parents, one must not be too over confident or be too passive. One must be balanced.
Faith is from Broward County, FL and everyone I met that was from there would tell me “I’ll cut you if you hurt her” or some variation of this phrase. Initially, I would just laugh it off, but after a while, the “2-5/NY” in me started to come out and my responses would be a retort that would be along the lines of “yeah, but my knife is bigger” or “I would hate to use the red dot.” Most people would smile and laugh at my response as they began to recognize, I was not a wimp and won’t back down to a challenge. But there was one person who decided to test me in his own unique way: Yardman Ned.
Faith would refer to her father from time to time as Yardman Ned. This is because he owned a lawncare business and had very catchy slogans that he would use to gain the attention of potential clients. The first time I met him, he and his wife came to Palm Coast to travel with us to Jacksonville to see Nicholas play in a football game. (Nicholas is the middle child. More on him in another post.) I was cautioned that he was a big practical joker and amateur comedian along the lines of Mr. Brown. Boy, did she hit the nail on the head with that description. The FIRST thing he says to me when he pulled up into my yard after getting out of his car was “Well, I got a knife that I hope I don’t have to use. Nice to meet you.” Game on. My response was classic Terry “Nice to meet you, but my knives are bigger, and I have red dots.” That invoked a smile on his face as he knew I wasn’t afraid of him and the moment was not too big for me or him. Dominant Male Territory Marking 401 in progress.
As we traveled together, we talked about several topics. As a Dolphins fan, he had to recognize that I was NOT going to change allegiance from the Steelers. If anything, I was trying to get him to come to the right side. As the day progressed, we continued to talk about additional topics that ranged from faith and biblical studies to deer and other wildlife in Palm Coast. I recognized that he was trying to see what type of person I was. Yet, when he wasn’t talking (which wasn’t that often), he was observing. He was watching the interactions between myself and Faith and how we treated each other and cared for each other.
After the game, we went to eat dinner and hung out in Jacksonville until it was time to return to Palm Coast. On the trip back, we continued to talk and establish a report with each that was growing deeper and deeper with respect by the minute. It was during this time that I informed him that I was going to ask his daughter for her hand in marriage and wanted to get his blessing. To my (pleasant) surprise, he gave me his blessing without hesitation and told me that he could tell that we were happy together and he believed that we would be great with each other. Whew. Stereotypically, fathers are extremely difficult and guarded about their daughter’s heart. I said to myself “This was easy. Her mom should be easy.” Boy, was I wrong.
The month of November was the month that we had planned on meeting her parents and my mom and godmother. After meeting “Yardman Ned”, my confidence was through the roof. I knew how to prep Faith for the meeting with my mother and godmother, but I was going to meet Faith’s mom (and half of her family) on Thanksgiving Day. Me, Faith and the kids all piled together in the Avalanche and off to Tampa we went. I was forewarned about the various aunts, uncles and cousins that would be there and the intense “interrogations” that I would be subjected to during the course of the day. Bring it on! I was confident and ready for anything. Yet, I was not prepared for the tactics of Ms. Mae.
Faith introduced me to everyone in her aunt and uncle’s house and eventually introduced me to her mother, Ms. Mae. She smiled and was polite, but I noticed she kept her distance. I recognized that look before: she was observing me. For several hours, she would engage in small talk from time to time and then go back to talking with other family members. Just like the behavioral analysts from ‘Criminal Minds’, I felt as those I was being observed by many people and they were going to eventually try to circle me and pounce. I was ready and confident in who I was and true to my feelings about Faith. Nothing could change that. About 6-7 hours pass and the ‘interrogation’ that I had been forewarned about by Faith never came. All I could think was “That was it? This could be a set up. What just happened (or didn’t)?” Ah, the psychological game was just entering the second phase. Phase one was complete. I was completely off guard and didn’t have the slightest idea where the questioning would come from or when.
Eventually, Ms. Mae grabbed me by my hand and led me to the backyard to talk. She was polite and direct all at the same time. I was ready for any question with an answer from my heart. She expressed her concern about the speed that our relationship was going. I understood and respected that she didn’t beat around the bush and was very direct in both her statements and questions. She asked me my intentions concerning Faith. As I told her father, my intensions were to make her my wife, when the time was right. She politely let me plead my case and said nothing and revealed nothing either verbally or via facial expressions. Just like an interrogator, she didn’t let her emotions or thoughts be revealed. I was not ready for that in this setting, yet I respected her for it.
When we finished talking, I asked her about her thoughts. She said, “I’m still deciding.” I thought I plead my case and defended myself very well and knew within my heart of hearts that I had won her over. Whether or not I did or did not, she was not prepared to tell me. It had been a long time since I had to defend myself, my emotions and my intensions to a mother. This was NOT going to be the slam dunk that I had with her father. This one was going to take some time. The rest of the evening, we had limited contact with each other until time for us to leave. I didn’t know what to think and asked Faith if her mother had given her an insight on what her thoughts were. Faith did try to get the 411 from her, but just like she told me, she was still “deciding.”
I would later find out that Ms. Mae came from a long line of praying women in their family. This is where Faith got her dedication to prayer. She wasn’t holding out on me, she was going to pray about it and get her “decision” from the Ultimate Interrogator. It would be through prayer that she would determine whether or not she could trust that my words and my actions would truly withstand the winds of change and time or was I just “talking the talk.” All I could do was continue to be myself and allow my Advocate, the Holy Spirit, to speak to her on my behalf. It would be several days later that I would receive word from Faith that I was accepted, but she was still watching and praying. I wouldn’t have expected any different.
Mom and Godmomma
Between meeting Faith’s father and mother, we took a trip to visit my mother and godmother. I don’t call my mother “mother”, I call her either “ma” or “mom.” I didn’t clue my mom into the fact that we were coming as it was a surprise. The one thing that my mom likes to do when I come into town is let everyone know I’m coming. Even when I am coming to spend time just with her, she wants everyone to know I was coming. This was one trip where discretion was definitely needed. Mom knew I was seeing Faith, but didn’t know how serious we were with our relationship. She knew from my history, I only brought those whom I considered to be “potential marriage material” to the house to meet her after I had been dating. I called her from the driveway and told her to come to the front door. She was doubly surprised: 1) I snuck up on her and 2) I had Faith with me. She did NOT see this coming. I introduced her to Faith and told her to get her clothes on because we were going out to dinner.
We went to the restaurant and ate. Faith and mom talked when I was away (we went to a buffet). While Faith was away, I asked her what was her thoughts. She thought Faith was nice and she asked me was I going to marry her (told you she knew my M.O.). I told her yes, it was my intention to marry Faith. She was concerned that I was getting married “on the rebound.” It was during this time that I revealed just how long Mia had been sick and what I had been through. As my father was sick the majority of my life and understood the “waiting for the other shoe to drop” she understood what I had been through. I had put my future life in God’s hand and trusted that He would lead me to the right person. My mom respected my decision, but asked that I keep it quiet for a little while longer. I told her that we had decided to wait until late December or early January to announce that we were going to get married. Then she asked if I was going to see my godmother. Of course, I was.
My godparents were the people that I could always go to in order to get a non-biased opinion on ANYTHING. After my godfather passed, my godmother was still there to give me the straightest and non-biased answer or opinion. She was a God-fearing woman for as long as I can remember and if I ever needed a prayer and expected to hear from God concerning a subject, she was my number one go to prayer warrior. So, on our way back to Florida, we stopped to see her. She knew we were coming as my mom had let her know I was here with “this woman named Faith.” It was time for the final spiritual check of Faith. I knew what I heard from God, but I also knew that if there was something that was affecting my spiritual hearing about the timing of this relationship, she would hear it.
When we arrived, I introduced her to Faith and we sat down to talk. I told my godmomma how we met and how our relationship grew so quickly. She listened to me and she gave us some advice: “Don’t get married for the sex. It’s not worth it. As long as you are hearing from God and want to be with each other for more than sex, then you will have a long and happy marriage.” Wow, I had heard many things from my godmomma, but never had she talked to me about sex. That was my godfather’s domain. Since he wasn’t around, she wanted us to know that no great relationship should be built on the premise of getting married in order to have sex so as not to be in spiritual condemnation. We let her know that sex was not the reason that we were wanting to get married, but rather that we had been praying and our hearts and spirits were connected to one another. She was happy to hear that and gave us her blessing. I thought it was over, but there was a surprise waiting for me a few weeks later.
Two weeks later, I got a message on my answering machine (yes, I have an answering machine and a house phone) to call my godmomma when I got home. When I got the message, I called her immediately as my godmomma doesn’t call long distance as she doesn’t have unlimited long distance (yes, she’s that old school) so I knew for her to call and leave a message, it was important. When I called her, she asked me one very simple and direct question: “Were you two seeing each other when Mia was alive?” I knew this question was going to come from someone, but from my godmomma? I was not expecting it from her. I told her very quickly that no, we were not in a relationship with each other before Mia passed. My godmomma always knew when I was telling the truth or lying even when my mother couldn’t tell when I was a child just by the sound of my voice. When she heard me say “no”, she said “I didn’t believe that you two were together before, but I needed to put my soul and mind to rest and I wanted to ask that question.” I respected her for asking that question as I also knew she was asking that question for my mom as well and would give her the good news. Sometimes the hardest questions to ask are answered with the simplest answers when God puts things together. This wasn’t a matter of whether or not I was telling the truth, rather it was a time to show the enemy that people don’t have to be tipping around and being on the ‘down low’ in order to be brought together. It was a testament to the dedication to the vows that I had observed over 22 years before and to the vows that I would take a few months later