My favorite love story of all time is actually our very own story. Mine and Dean's.
It's no secret that I adore Dean. I have for almost 20 years. And I'm quite sure he adores me too.
Next month will be our 18th wedding anniversary. Eighteen years. We count ourselves as extremely blessed to have the relationship and marriage that we do. It's not without its challenges – we are flawed human beings after all. But we are best friends, lovers and parents together. Looking back God orchestrated some wonderful magic long before we knew His Son (we only became Christians eleven and a half years ago on the very same day). And neither one of us would change a thing.
Here for all eternity is our story.
The Back Story
Once upon a time in a land long ago, there was a girl who was about 11 or 12 years old. Her family knew a really large family with eight children. This girl, we'll call her Shannon, had a school-girl crush on one of the boys in the large family. Since she was only a young ‘un there was nothing to be done about this but doodle silly doodles and talk silliness with her best girl friend.
When Shannon was 13 her family moved away and life went on, full of other crushes and school and activities. We shall skip the parts about her dating many unsuitable boys and pretty much being a mess of a teenager. Except to say that she was. A mess, that is. (For that she once again profusely apologizes to her parents.)
In the meantime, Dean too had gone through being a teenager and even a twenty-something young man. He participated in much foolery with his buddies. None of which shall be discussed here. Because that would just be unnecessary. Except to say he was sort of a mess too.
Both Dean and Shannon had had their hearts broken into what felt like irreparable pieces. Little did they know that the God they didn't yet have a relationship with was really looking out for them.
In March 1995, at 19 Shannon went back to visit her old best girlfriend and they visited the large family to say hello. They had grown up together in part and gone to church together, which meant there was a history and familiarity there.
In July of 1995, knowing that he was soon going to college in the States and completely on a whim, Shannon invited the youngest brother (the one she previously had a crush on) of the large family to come visit and celebrate with her friends. He didn't really want to. However, his bigger brother Dean convinced him that he should. And since youngest brother didn't have a vehicle, Dean would personally drive him the hour it took to get to Shannon's house.
You see, unbeknownst to Shannon, when she visited in March Dean had developed a crush on her now grown-up self.
So on one lovely Saturday evening in July, Dean and his younger brother drove to Shannon's house. They picked up a couple of Shannon's friends and proceeded to enjoy the evening at various establishments in beautiful Huntsville, Ontario. And while everyone else was obliviously having fun, Dean quietly began to work his way into Shannon's heart. He did so by attempting to hold her hand, dance with her, open the doors for her and by shocking her with a good night kiss at the end of the evening.
Shannon was in complete shock. You see after the aforementioned dating disasters, she had recently sworn off dating and decided that if she should ever date again it would go incredibly slow.
God has such a great sense of humor.
After that initial, somewhat awkward evening, Dean called Shannon. (You know back when long phone calls were the thing.) And they talked for hours. And then they talked for hours again the next night. And almost every night for the next two weeks straight.
They were quickly falling for each other. But Shannon was secretly terrified.
The First Date
And then they had their first date on August 12, 1995.
As mentioned Shannon was terrified. So she insisted that the first part of the “date” include her own little brother, her younger sister and another friend. Nothing like overkill.
Their first stop was Santa's Village. Yup an amusement park. Go-karting was first. And then 18 holes of mini golf.
And that's when Shannon was sunk. Dean was so charming. And funny. And so stinking cute. And she was done-for. 18 holes of mini-golf and he had her for life.
You think I'm kidding?
After the amusement park, Dean and Shannon returned her brother, sister and friend to her parent's house to watch a movie and Dean and Shannon went out to dinner. And a drive up to the lookout, where Dean said more charming things like “your chariot awaits” as he opened the door for her. And she really was all-in.
The Remaining Dates, Moving & a Funny Proposal
The daily phone calls continued and Dean came to visit every weekend. Dean and Shannon did everything and nothing together.
On the long weekend in September 1995, Shannon moved in with friends of the family in the city to be closer to Dean. It seemed a little crazy. But it was so good. Dates now happened on week nights after work too. Dinners out, long drives, movies. And always lots of talking.
By mid-September, Dean and Shannon were unofficially engaged. As in they had brought it up, discussed it and basically decided they wanted to be married to each other. They were just missing a ring and an announcement.
On one lovely October Sunday, Dean picked up Shannon for a special date. They had been dating for two months and were going out to dinner to celebrate. They went to a beautiful restaurant (at which Shannon ordered veal for the first time and then freaked out when she found out what it was). Shannon secretly suspected that this would be the date Dean popped the question with the ring to make it official. Dinner was lovely. But the evening ended with no ring.
The next evening after work Dean picked Shannon up and they were hanging out in his room at his parent's house. And that's when he got down on one knee, opened up a ring box and asked her to marry him. (Of course, Shannon said yes!)
It turns out Dean did plan to give Shannon the ring at dinner the night before. But he hadn't picked up the ring yet – and the jewelry store was closed on Sundays!
Dean and Shannon wanted so badly to be married.
They tried to do the “proper” thing and schedule the wedding for a lovely August summer day many months away. After all they had only been dating a couple of months. And they almost did it.
But they just couldn't wait.
So they changed their plans and booked a hall for a mid-April wedding. Which drew some funny comments from those that thought they were rushing it. But it didn't matter to Dean and Shannon.
Well that day was certainly an adventure, because who really thinks there will be an ice storm in April anyway?
Shannon wasn't one of those girls who dreamed of her wedding day in great detail. There were simple sandwiches and decorations and no alcohol.
Her old high school friends didn't understand it.
There was no power for much of the day, loved ones couldn't make it because it was so icy, photos had to be taken indoors near the windows for light.
But Shannon and Dean were happy. It was their day. Vows were said, cake was had and dancing happened.
And the next morning was absolutely gorgeous, partly because of the ice, but mostly because Dean and Shannon were finally married.
The End – which was really just The Beginning…
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