Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Love at first sight...

Because I am from Arkansas, people always ask, "How did you and Ken meet?" Well, there's a funny story about that...

I attended college at Blue Mountain College, a small, private, women's college in Blue Mountain, Mississippi. And before you ask, yes, there were men at the college ~ the only men admitted to BMC were those who were planning to go into some type of Christian ministry. I went out with a couple of them and decided that I was not cut out to be a minister's wife, or perhaps that they were not cut out to be ministers. Either way, I chose not to date the men at school after a couple of less-than-savory encounters.

{Yep, that's me! About six months before I started dating Ken.}

I had a couple of wonderful friends at school who knew this about me and they would occasionally introduce me to guys that they knew and that they thought I would enjoy spending time with. Those girls did a fine job of selecting, because I did enjoy the company of the guys they hand-picked for me. However, none of those men were "The One."

{And this is me with one of said friends - whose face is blurred for her privacy. This is probably about a year before I met Ken officially, but about the time I met him unofficially.}

During my years at BMC, Ken worked part-time at Jackson's Quick Stop in Blue Mountain. He had a full-time day job in Ripley as well, so he often worked nights and weekends. Most, if not all, of the girls at the college thought he was good-looking, and I was no exception. I know he dated some of the girls at the college, because I met him (unofficially) one night in the dorm. I was working at the dorm desk and he came in to see one of the girls. They were having an argument, and I had to shush them because it was quiet hours.

So, one of my friends (not the one pictured above) had a 'crush' on Ken. She was headed home for the Christmas break and wanted to go by Ken's day job to tell him goodbye; however, she did not want to go alone. She asked me to ride into town with her to see him. When we got there, we spent quite a while just talking to him, etc. (Ken says I flirted with him; I say he flirted with me - I was dating someone else at the time.) He had some business Christmas cards on his desk and my friend suggested that he send one to each of us, so we left our home addresses for him.

When my friend left for home that afternoon, she asked me to call Ken and talk to him about coming to see her over the holiday. I promised that I would try, but I really doubted my success at convincing him. But a promise is a promise, so I called him later that afternoon. We talked for about two hours. About everything. He shared more with me in that first conversation than any other guy ever had, and I shared more with him than I ever had with any other guy. We shared our hopes and dreams, and our pasts and our failures and our quirks.

{This is Ken just before we started dating.
I mean, really, wouldn't YOU want to go out with that smile?}

When I got home for Christmas break, I did receive a Christmas card from Ken ~ and I was excited. He was a really friendly guy. Did I mention how good-looking he was? But I was dating someone - who broke up with me on New Year's Eve. That same Christmas break we had a record snow/ice and I got snowed in at home when it was time to return to school. My best friend and suitemate was able to go on a couple of days before me. When I finally got there on Wednesday, January 13, she pulled me aside and asked me why Ken Lence had been calling the dorm looking for me. About that time, the dorm phone rang and it was...

Ken calling to talk to me! He asked me out to dinner that night. We went to Shoney's in New Albany. I still remember everything he had on -- blue plaid shirt, Levi's, gray cowboy boots, and Polo cologne. He told me that he would have taken me somewhere in Tupelo, but that he had spent most of the day there with his mother taking her to various doctor's appointments. Okay, how sweet is that? While we sat there eating and talking, I realized two things. 1) I was falling in love with this guy! 2) This guy was "The ONE!" Being a smart girl, I did not let on to either of these thoughts.

Ken and I continued to date. After our second date, I made a point to find my friend in her dorm room and tell her myself. I did not want her to hear about this from anyone else. She was so sweet about it! She said to me that she knew he wasn't interested in her and she was happy for me. We are still friends, by the way.

{Ken all dressed up - probably on his way to see me for Formal Dinner.}

About a month later, shortly after my 21st birthday, Ken asked me to marry him in  a round-about way. We were just cutting up and he started tickling me - and I am very ticklish. When I finally got him to stop, he teased me about being ticklish. Without thinking I told him what my mother has always told me, "Well, my mama says that ticklish women make the best wives!" He got still and answered, "Will you be mine then?" He got me a beautiful ring in April of that year. After having it sized at the jewelry store, we were on our way back to Blue Mountain. He asked me for the ring and gave it right back to me and asked me officially, "Sheila, will you marry me?"

After spending time together every day for four months, or at least talking on the phone every day, I was absolutely miserable when I got home to Arkansas for the summer break. I cried - every night. Ken came up to see me a couple of times and we decided to marry in June instead of September. Did you know that June is a very busy wedding month? We ended up getting married at the end of May - just four months after we went on our first date. We got married at Crawfordsville Baptist Church in the little prayer garden. My best friend and her brother were our attendants, and they took us all out for supper (at Shoney's in West Memphis) after the ceremony. Here is our wedding photo:

And they lived happily ever after...

Monday, June 20, 2011

Me? Write a BOOK?!?

Okay, so twice in the past week alone, somebody has told me that I need to write a book. Who, me? Write a BOOK?!? I don't think so...

But it got me to thinking. In both conversations, and in times' past when the same suggestion was made, I was sharing a family story of some type. You know what I mean... stories about when my children were younger or about when I was young or about my parents and grandparents. FAMILY stories.

I don't have many stories from my parents about their growing up years. Sure, I have a few, just not many. My husband and I have always tried to share stories with our two children so they will know their history, their background, their ancestry. When they were small, those were their favorite kinds of stories: "Tell me a story about when you were little, Momma." or "Tell me the story about pretending to be Evel Knievel, Daddy!"

So I couldn't sleep last night. I was lying in bed thinking about the directives to "write a book" and thinking about the fact that I'm expecting my first grandchild. So I decided to share those family stories in blog form for my children and grandchildren. That way, they are down for posterity, but I don't have to commit to the time and effort of actually writing a book. Brilliant!

So, Katie, Kevin, and baby Butterbean ~ this is for you and for your children and grandchildren and theirs too!