When Happily Ever After Finally Shows Up

Linda Tate

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Photo credit: Linda Tate

We were only 8 years old the first time we set eyes on each other. Our parents had decided we were too shy and had put us in a dance class. Now, this wasn't just any dance class, no, you had to have a partner, and your partner was of the opposite sex! I was mortified. I just knew I would die from cooties. My partners' name was David. At least he had clean hands. That was a plus. We ended up being dance partners for 10 years.

During this time, both of us had developed feelings for each other, but we never disclosed them because there were rules about such things. If you entered into a relationship with your dance partner, and then broke up, it would destroy the dance troupe! Unacceptable. And so we stuffed our feelings and performed.

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Photo credit: Linda Tate

Our dance troupe was well known in our part of Oregon. We were "triple threats" as we could dance, act, and sing. As we grew up, things started to shift. Life was beckoning. Some went to college, some went off to Hollywood to find fame and fortune, some went to work, some settled down in our hometown, got married, and started a family, but none of us lost touch. We were family.

I cried for two weeks when I received the news that David had married. I fell into a depression and eventually vowed to just marry the first man who asked me. This turned out to be both my biggest mistake, and my greatest experience. Our marriage ended due to domestic violence, but I gave birth to my two children, which in some twisted way made it all seem worthwhile.

I decided to stay single and focus on my children. My golden retriever, Lily Bear, was my New Years' Eve partner. Every year for 12 years, we would climb in bed, popcorn in tow, and turn on Dick Clark. When the clock struck midnight, we would jump around the room in excitement, the way only a golden can.

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Photo credit: Linda Tate

I was 42 when my youngest child turned 18. They were leading their own lives, and my parents started to age and need my care. I worked full time in mental health, and between my coworkers, my clients, and my family, I can't say that I felt lonely very often. It was only on New Year's Eve that my heart would ache a little, but by morning, all was well.

I considered myself to be "working poor". I could provide for my children, but like most single mothers, I came last, and I was honored to do so. I knew that nobody was going to save me and that I had to save myself. I had given up on finding true love and was quite certain that romantic love wasn't in the cards for me.

One day in 2009, I was surfing my social media page when I saw a friend request from...oh my stars and garters...could it be...it was HIM! David had sent me a friend request! I accepted it immediately and eagerly looked for his marital status. He was married. My heart fell and I vowed not to interact with him. I knew how I still felt, and I wasn't going to be "that girl". No, I would not try to steal someone's husband from them. I was fine alone.

It was 2010, and as I sat at my computer the morning of New Year's Eve, I opened my social media page and poured out my heart. It was only two sentences, but they were emotionally heavy for me. My post read, "It's New Year's Eve, I'm a single woman, and I'm alone. What is wrong with this picture?".

Unbeknownst to me, David was sitting in his apartment in Manhattan, three thousand miles away, reading my post. His 25-year marriage had ended, and he was lost. It had been a year and he still couldn't bring himself to change his marital status on his page. That night, something changed. He recalled sitting in his bedroom as a youth, looking up into the night sky, and wishing on a star, "I wish to marry Linda".

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Photo credit: Linda Tate

Two weeks later, he was home for a visit. He invited me out for a drink (which I thought meant coffee) and so we agreed to meet at a local diner. I decided that I would be his shoulder to cry on, an old friend comforting another, with no underlying agenda. After all, he must be heartbroken, having been in a relationship for so long, only to see it end!

I knew the minute I saw him that he still loved me. He reached out with both hands, smiling. Those soft brown eyes met mine, and his sweaty hands told me everything I needed to know. He was nervous! Just as nervous as if we were getting ready to step on stage to perform! I knew those sweaty hands well.

We talked for hours and it felt as if we had never parted. When the clock hit 11:50 pm, I got paged out to go to work. It was an emergency and I had to leave. In the parking lot, he asked me to come to visit him in NYC. It had always been a dream of ours as children to see a show on Broadway. I agreed. As we embraced, he whispered in my ear, "Promise me you'll come". I nodded my head, as my stomach turned from butterflies and my heart pounded in my throat. Again he said, "Please promise me" and I softly replied, "I promise".

The clock struck midnight and just like Cinderella, I was gone.

I wouldn't make it to NYC until my birthday in February of 2011, four weeks later. We spent those weeks talking on the phone after our workday was done, sometimes into the wee hours of the morning. Both of us were exhausted, but so, so happy. I had never left the country town I was born in, so the thought of flying to NYC was overwhelming! My coworkers were so excited about my trip, and they teased me about finding love. My clients, who were non-verbal, would sit and giggle as the staff spoke of such things.

When I arrived in NYC, I was stunned. The culture shock was a bit over the top. This small town boy worked in the Empire State Building. He lived on the 28th floor of a skyrise on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and he had doormen, security, and access to a maid. I was not expecting this at all, and I started to have my doubts.

David soon proved to me that he was the same sweet boy I had danced with all those years ago. My fears started to melt away, and we spent our time in a whirlwind of loving experiences. We snuggled at the Broadway Musical, Chicago, ate pudding off of each other's nose in an open-air cafe and held hands on the Staten Island Ferry as the sun set behind Lady Liberty.

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On my last day there, it started to snow. We had one last thing he wanted to show me, and that was the library in Manhattan. As we approached, it appeared the library was closed. There was a lady sitting on a stone bench at the foot of the stone stairs, and her husband was headed up to check the doors. She patted the seat next to her and I welcomed a chance to sit and rest while David joined him on the stairs.

"So", she queried, "this is your first snow?". "Oh no, I live in Oregon" I replied, "I've seen a lot of snow". "Ah", she smiled, "you are in love then. The glow you have on your face only happens at the sight of the first snow, or when one's heart has been given away". I felt my face blush and she laughed. She talked to me about her husband, and the many years they had been together. I confided in her as well. As the men rejoined us, she gave me some sound advice, "This is a once in a lifetime love. Don't let it get away".

Her words rang in my ears as I watched her take her husband's hand and stroll away into the snow-covered streets.

I was in love. She was right.

As we headed back home to pack for the airport, David had one last stop in mind.

We approached Central Park, and he helped me into a horse-drawn carriage. The driver put a heavy red velvet blanket over us, and as the horse clip-clopped into the park, and the snow lightly covered my hair and eyelashes, David turned to me and said, "I lost you once. I can't lose you again. Please tell me you'll come back.". I agreed, and at the end of our ride, the driver took our picture.

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Photo credit: Linda Tate

I went back home and did some soul searching. I would be leaving everything I'd ever known. My children, my career, my parents, my friends, and my elderly Golden Retriever. She wouldn't make the trip. My heart was so torn. Then, my parents made the decision for me.

As I sat, telling them about my trip, my dad asked, "So, is this going to end in marriage?". I said, "Well, he wants to marry me, but I can't leave you and mama". My mama looked up from her word finder at me, then at my dad and said, "Oh no, you must go. Find your love!" and as she reached out to grasp my dad's hand added, "We did". I promised them I'd be back, and that after the wedding we would relocate. I moved to NYC in August of that same year, along with my cat, Boo Bah.

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Photo credit: Linda Tate

We flew home for a wedding that was thrown by my coworkers, family, friends, and clients. We wouldn't return to Oregon until July of 2012, but we made it home in time to enjoy my mama's last three years of life, and my daddy's last seven. My children had taken good care of Lily Bear, and she was with us for another year. Aside from giving birth, this was the happiest I had ever been.

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My husband has become the rock of our family. He's been an amazing dad, son-in-law, and brother-in-law. We both work together at a public charity, and we are currently getting ready to celebrate our 11th wedding anniversary.

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Photo credit: Linda Tate

New York City will always be our second home, and we visit there often. Our year there was what we call our "extended honeymoon" and the memories will never fade.

For those who would believe that they are too old for a fairy tale ending, I want you to know, I was 47 when I married David. I wasn't looking for love, but I will forever be grateful that love...found me.

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I am the Communications Director for the Northwest Osteopathic Medical Foundation. A Cup of Coffee is a health and wellness blog that can sometimes be very humorous. We hope you enjoy the blog as much as I enjoy writing it. Feel free to view our page at www.nwosteo.org

Canby, OR
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