Despite All Signs
By Kim Seeley
There is a well-known comedian whose signature line is, “Here’s Your Sign!” When my husband of 32 years and I started dating, there were many signs that should have warned me what lay ahead. I was given many hints during our rather short courtship (less than one year) about the true nature of the man, but love had rendered me rather blind.
The first sign that should have grabbed my attention was the setting of our first date. Most couples think back to their first date at a lovely restaurant, perhaps one with candlelit tables and soft music in the background. My first date with my husband began with this romantic proposal, “Suppose I bring over some steaks to your place Saturday night, and you can cook them up with a salad and baked potato?”
Now, ladies, this was a sign that should have sent me running, shouting, “Cheap! The man is cheap!” But no, this did not deter me. I thought it was rather cute at the time, and I willingly agreed to broil the steaks and fix the salad. Our first date was in my tiny kitchen, in my equally tiny house that I shared with a fellow teacher. She had gone home for the weekend, leaving the two of us to enjoy a simple meal and the opportunity to become better acquainted.
Another of our early dates was his Sunday school class Christmas party held at his teacher’s house. Even in my hey-day, I was never a real head-turner, but on this occasion, I definitely made heads spin! When I walked through the door with my date, every head in the room swiveled towards my direction. At first, I thought my slip was showing or my blouse was unbuttoned. I soon found out that my boyfriend had not dated anyone in several years, and all of his friends were in total shock when he walked in with me. “Wayne has a girlfriend!” The room was abuzz. This should have been a sign too, a sign that this is not a talkative fellow.
We started having real dates after the Sunday school class supper. I suppose I had passed muster with his friends, and he actually began taking me to some nice restaurants. We also spent time with some of his friends who were newlyweds or had young children. Watching my boyfriend spend time with their children unveiled a tenderness I found both touching and promising.
Things seemed to be progressing smoothly in our courtship until the school year ended. My roommate wanted her house to herself again, and I moved back home in June. My boyfriend had to drive more than thirty miles one way to see me each weekend. After two weeks of separation, he popped the question, or at least he made a suggestion. I believe the actual statement was, “Well, we might as well get married.” I agreed. We might as well. There was no romantic declaration of undying love, no kneeling down on one knee, no sparkling diamond in a black velvet box. We simply drove to Best Products and chose a simple solitaire together.
Now, this occasion should have sent red flags flying! This was a preview of a life without romantic declarations, grand gestures or sentimental notions. I paid no mind. We jumped headlong into wedding preparations, chose a date one month away, started looking for a place to live and then bought the basic furnishings for it. I purchased a wedding dress off the rack at Smith & Welton’s, had my bridesmaids’ dresses made out of a peach fabric that was all the rage in the seventies, and my husband and his friends had their tuxedoes fitted. It rained on my wedding day, but that sign we both ignored.
We honeymooned at the Peaks of Otter, a mountain resort about three hours from our home. Most of my friends were going to the Poconos or the Caribbean for their honeymoons, but we went to a back-to-nature-type resort that did not have television or phones in the room. The setting was lovely, and I remember thinking that it was rather romantic. It should have been a sign that this man does not like to travel more than three hours from home!
We then left the Peaks of Otter to visit Dixie Caverns. We spent the night in a Holiday Inn which had phones, and we both called home to speak with our families. That was a mistake. My husband’s family relayed a message from the youth baseball team that my husband helped coach. The boys had made it into the tournament. Could he come home early and help? Now, this was a sign which I should not have ignored. I probably should have ranted and raved about cutting our honeymoon short to coach a tournament ballgame.
I wasn’t happy, but I didn’t make a stink. Now that I reflect on all the signs during our courtship and early married days, I believe I saw the signs for what they truly were. My husband was pretty much the same fellow in 1976 that he is today, with the addition of a few grey hairs. We have lived a life that has reflected many of those early signs, a life of modest purchases, little extravagance, daily work and chores, and occasional vacations. We raised two daughters in whom we attempted to instill an appreciation for the little things in life that bring so much joy.
Perhaps I read the signs correctly after all. The signs were all there that this man was a man I could trust, not only with my heart, but with my life and my future. This man was a man who would be a dependable father to my children. This man may not bring me flowers very often, but he brings me joy. After thirty-two years of marriage, he still makes me laugh, and my spirit picks up when I hear his footsteps enter the door. Yes, I think I read the signs. Despite all signs to the contrary, this man would be my true love.
About this writer
- Kim Seeley, a former librarian and English teacher, lives with her husband, Wayne, in Wakefield, Virginia. She is a frequent contributor to Sasee and Chicken Soup for the Soul. Her most recent story, “Amanda’s Jonquils,” can be found in Chicken Soup: Messages from Heaven. She loves to read, play the piano, travel and spend time with her grandson, Evan.