As anyone my age will tell you, time passes quickly. I’ll rephrase that. Time passes too quickly. One day, you’re worrying about tripping on the graduation stage or your knees popping when you kneel at your wedding. And then suddenly, your hair is gray (if you’re lucky enough to still have it) and you’re the oldest living creature on your block.
It was September, 1970 when we met. Just out of the Navy, I came home hoping to find gainful civilian employment. I had already been given a part-time gig as the choir director at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Strasburg, Virginia.
Opened the door and, borrowing a title from a Beatles’ hit, I Saw Her Standing There. On the stairs, to be exact. Who was this beautiful stranger with the most amazing smile I had ever seen? I had only been away from home for four years and Strasburg was one of those small towns where everybody knows everybody. But I didn’t recognize her, although I had seen her before.
Turn back the hands of time to 1966, the year I graduated from Strasburg High School. In those days, I was a shy kid with low self esteem, no girlfriend and no prospects. But I did have one thing going for me. Faith and belief in the power of prayer. Consequently, every day I prayed for the Lord to reveal the one for me.
Those prayers became fervent and continued right on through the Navy Band years. Often times, as I prayed, I could see the image of a girl I had never seen or met, that is, until that September day in 1970. Which is why, the first words out of my mouth were, “Haven’t I seen you someplace before?” Yeah, I know. Oldest line in the book, right? However, this wasn’t a line. I meant it.
That night, we went to Pizza Hut. Soon after, on a chilly fall day, we drove to a magical place in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia called Orkney Springs. I had attended symphony workshops there while in high school. As we walked beneath the breathtakingly beautiful trees of Autumn, it is there that we gained the courage to say the words already written upon our hearts.
Through the years, we occasionally observed old couples walking hand in hand and hoped that someday that would be us. Thank God, we have arrived at someday.
Fast forward to last night. Turned off the TV and we talked. That’s all. Just the two of us. Best friends for 45 years. God’s gift that keeps on giving.
Barbra Streisand (also Gladys Knight) had a hit song from the movie of the same name called, The Way We Were. I am so thankful that my song is not just about the past but about the present. THE WAY WE ARE.