He claimed the story was corny, but frankly, it’s one of the best love stories I have heard in a long time. Maybe it’s because to the outsider, the folks who only know him from a business standpoint, only get to see the gruff old gray-headed guy. But I’ve seen the teddy bear. I’ve seen the guy who chokes up when he talks about the woman that he’s been married to for almost 45 years. And while I am a huge fan of both sides, the teddy bear side is so endearing. Possibly because he saves it and only shares it sometimes.
I won’t reveal names. I think they would both be embarrassed. We’ll call them “Jack and Jill.”
Jack was career military. He was in school. The military ball was coming up in about a month and when asked if he had a date, Jack replied “no” and was promptly introduced to Jill. He picked her up for a “Coca-Cola” date. Just an hour or so of small talk. He dropped her back off at her house and asked her if she had a date to the ball. Jill said no and Jack asked if he could be her escort. She said yes.
Two weeks go by and when asked if he had actually asked her to go to the ball, Jack said “Well, yes.” “Shouldn’t you call her and talk to her before then?” “Oh…” was the response. So Jack called her for another bit of small talk and then called again a week later for more small talk. And then, his words-not mine, he went to pick her up and there standing at the door was the most beautiful creäture God had ever created. He decided right then and there he was going to marry her. It took three years to convince Jill that was going to happen, but he did.
Jack recalled a Sunday afternoon when Jill’s father, a professor of Political Science (a Lt. Colonel) showed up at Jack’s dorm, asked for a private word with “Cadet Jack” and inquired what his intentions were. “I intend to marry her, sir” was the reply young Jack gave the Lt. Colonel. Jaw on the ground, the Lt. Colonel simply stared. Cadet Jack continued, stating that Jill would be 21 and would have finished pharmacy school. Thanking him for his time, the Lt. Colonel nodded and drove away.
True to his word, Jack waited, although he and Jill did have an engagement ring designed and she did bring it with her when she came to Columbus to visit Jack. The visit was quite proper. She stayed with a married couple with whom she and Jack were close. Jack says “I just knew in my heart she was going to say yes.” Ha. Obviously.
That night, on the day she arrived, Jack blindfolded her, drove onto Post, and led her to place where all the flags from all the different countries fly. It was dark and spotlight flashlights were shining brilliantly on flags. Jack had Jill open her eyes and he said “This is my world and I want to share it with you.” The next night he took her to dinner and formally asked her to be his wife.
Within three months, just ten days after Jill’s 21st birthday, Jack and Jill were married at Wynnton United Methodist Church in the chapel. Jack thought he knew what a wonderful companion and soul mate Jill would be when he met her, but it was confirmed when just weeks before the planned wedding in Texas, he found out that he had orders to go to Korea. Jill and her family packed everything up and simply moved the wedding to Columbus. He left not long after the wedding. After Korea came Vietnam and then came a career that took them on a “high adventure.”
Jack contributes all of their success’ as a family to Jill and her strength and character. They have two beautiful children and-once again-Jack says they are what they are because of their mother. He was your focused military men-and thank God for men and women like him who gave -and give-their lives in service to our country. And thank God for the wives (and husbands) who quietly support them on the home front, providing the calm and continuity needed so that the solider can keep their peace of mind while they are away.
Love stories are always unique to the couple and this one is no different. It is easy to spot the admiration and love that still exists in Jack’s eyes for his beloved Jill, even after 45 years. Love like that is rare. It’s once in a lifetime love. What a treat to have it shared and to be able to re-share.