‘Dreams do come true’

Published 8:01 am Saturday, February 14, 2009

In my senior year at Southampton High School, I sat behind a very tall, lanky boy known as one of the school “jocks.” Conversely, I was voted the “most studious” and “most dependable” in our school’s Senior Superlative.

How boring!

That guy in front of me talked to me only to ask how to do the English assignment. He was not a fan of English class. Anyway, that “boy” and I graduated in 1965. I entered The College of William & Mary and he went to the University of Richmond. I graduated four years later and began teaching. At UR, he became an All-American football player and headed to the NFL as a first-round draft choice by San Diego. I could only watch the “hometown hero” from afar and think “I knew him when” as he continued to play seven years in the NFL.

At our 20th high school reunion in 1985, I was not so shy anymore, loved to dance, but was still single. That “guy” was recently divorced and was there solo, too. We ate dinner at the same table, danced a few dances and that was that.

On Valentine’s Day 1986, I was visiting my folks and happened to bump into the “guy” and his parents at a civic dinner. He came up to chat with me and commented that since he lived in Richmond, and I lived in Petersburg, we ought to get together. He told me that I should call him sometime. I was startled by that, as my generation of girls never called guys, and I was not about to start.

The next weekend, while visiting my girlfriend in Richmond, I decided (after her husband fixed me a rum and coke) that I was going to call this “guy” because I wanted a date to an upcoming dance. Looking in the phone book, I found that the “guy” lived in her subdivision. I made the call, asked him to go to the dance and quickly got off the phone telling him to let me know later. I was afraid of being turned down. Asking guys out was new territory for me.

He called back, and we went to the dance on March 8. We dated two weeks later and after that started dating every night. We became engaged on July 4th weekend, and were married on Dec. 26, 1986, with many of our high school classmates attending. The “jock” and the almost “old maid” (I was 39!).

My Dad used to tell me not to despair about being single —that I was going to be a winner one day. I did win. I have someone who loves me, whom I can trust, who likes to dance and who can build or fix anything I want.

I have a wonderful stepson and, at age 41, gave birth to a wonderful son, who is now 21.

For all the girls who think you will never marry, dreams do come true. Mine did, although I never dreamed I would one day marry Walker Gillette!