My inspiration for love and how I met my sweetie!
When FV asked on Twitter if there were people interested in writing a blog post for her in February about how you met your sweetheart I jumped on it and told her I was interested in blogging about how I met my hubby online. But I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t give the whole thing a different spin and later decided to first write about the couple who inspired me to look for a partner in life who is my perfect match in every way and not settle for anything less than that: my parents.
The story I’m about to tell could have come straight out of a romance novel so I will start it as if it were one (please bear in mind I am NOT a writer and do not inspire to be one so forgive me any clichéd or faulty prose). Furthermore, the story is based on true people and I just altered the names a bit in view of privacy.
Mary had grown up in hell. She was an illegitimate daughter of the most prestigious man in the village, who had 24 children with 6 women, and only one was his lawfully wedded wife. Her mother died in childbirth (another illegitimate child by the “prestigious man”) when Mary was 8 years old and this was the start of a terrible period. After her mother’s death she was sent to her uncle’s house. He was married to the reincarnation of the wicked witch of the West and Cinderella’s life was a breeze compared to what awaited her at said uncle’s household.
When she finally managed to escape the hell of slavery and abuse she lived in and fled to a nearby island and found work as a maid for a dentist and his family, she thought she had landed in heaven. No more beatings, no more humiliation and people who genuinely cared for her well-being. Like Cinderella, she even had a godmother, not a fairy one but still the sweetest godmother in the world. It was her godmother who told her to go to her cousin’s wedding on a certain Saturday instead of staying hauled up in the maid’s quarters as she usually did. Little did she know that attending this wedding would change her life forever.
At her cousin’s wedding she was approached by the mother of the groom (her cousin’s new husband) who said to her: “You are going to marry my son.” Mary was stunned and managed: “I don’t think so…” The woman put her arm around her shoulder and said in a confidential tone: “Not these sons…my eldest son. He is abroad. He’s a sailor” Then she turned to her husband and said: Thomas, I’ve found her. She is perfect for Manny.” Mary thought the woman had lost her mind. What was she babbling about? She wasn’t planning on marrying anyone and certainly not some crazy woman’s son who wasn’t even there.
A while later Mary told her godmother about the weird lady at the wedding and it turned out her godmother knew the son in question, Manny Cross, and she told Mary not to write him off right away because he was a decent, sweet, hardworking guy and who knew what opportunities the future could bring. Mary loved and trusted her godmother and because of those words she started to open up to the idea, albeit subconsciously.
Meanwhile, Dotty Cross had not been kidding and when she wrote to her son she mentioned the lovely cousin of his brother’s new wife she had met and like any good son he listened to his mother when she told him to write Mary a letter. Mary, who grew up in hell where schooling was no option, didn’t know what to do when she received the letter. She couldn’t read, she couldn’t write. How was she going to respond? The solution came in de form of her aunt, the mother of the newly wed cousin. And so a romance grew, through letters read out loud to her and replies dictated to someone else. Mary fell in love with a man she had never seen except for in the pictures he had sent her. Manny, in his turn had also fallen in love and in the end of 1970 he asked her to marry him in a letter. Mary, even though in love, was hesitant about taking a step as big as marriage but once again her godmother gave her a push in the right direction and encouraged her to take the chance and take the plunge. Life abroad could never be worse than life on the islands. She could build a future abroad, seeing a new part of the world and creating a family of her own with a man she loved. Mary took the plunge and accepted the proposal.
Little did she know that she would marry but the groom would be serving up the captain’s meal somewhere on the Pacific Ocean on a ship at the time she was saying her I-do’s. Mary and Manny married by proxy. They married without ever seeing each other on April 24th, 1971, with Manny’s brother (the one married to Mary’s cousin) as the “stand-in” groom and they met face to face for the very first time at the end November 1971 when Mary flew to Portugal where Manny was waiting to take her to the Netherlands, where they would start their new life together. Mary had asked Manny to stop sailing before she agreed to marry him and leave her country for parts unknown because as the wife of a sailor she knew she would be spending a lot of time alone in a strange country. If Manny hadn’t agreed to that she would’ve stayed in her country. So they finally met in November 1971 and in August 1972 their first child, a daughter, was born.
This child would be me. I’m a daughter of parents who married without ever seeing each other, of parents who had a marriage that was utopian. Their marriage was happy, healthy, loving, respectful and passionate. I have never seen two people who loved each other more, who truly stood by each other in good and bad times, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer. There were differences of opinion but never (at least not to my knowledge) did my parents fight. They complemented each other in every way and raised us (I have one younger brother) to respect others, love ourselves and always speak our minds.
When I was old enough to grasp the concept of love I knew I wanted a partner in life who would enable me to have a relationship/marriage like my parents had.
I met my husband at the age of 27. I had some boyfriends before him but none of them ever gave me that: THIS IS HIM-feeling. We met online in October 2000, in a chat-room and I didn’t have the slightest inclination to start a relationship with a man I met in a chat-room. No way! Do you know how many weirdoes there are looming in chat-rooms? So when he approached me for a talk in said chat-room I was kind of aloof and didn’t really want to chat with him. I continued my conversation with the people I already knew in that room and sort of ignored him. But he was persistent and kept trying to engage in a conversation. In the end just to be done with him I agreed to a private talk and I was surprised. He did not go into cheesy pick-up mode as many others had before him. No, he really wanted to talk about all kinds of stuff. So we chatted, and chatted and chatted.
Then after about 2 weeks of daily chats that lasted for hours, he asked if I wanted to go to a concert (He worked in the music business at the time). This is where my alarm bells went off again. A date? With a virtual stranger? What did I know about this guy really? Yes we had great conversations about all kinds of topics, serious and fun topics. But really he was still a stranger. So I called my cousin and close friend for advice. She told me to take a chance. What could happen? The concert was in a public place, in a town I knew really well since I’d lived there for a few years so if he turned out to be some weirdo I could just take off and leave. And furthermore the concert (actually it was a CD presentation) was by one of my favorite Dutch bands so even if he turned out to be a creep I would have had the opportunity to see them live so it wouldn’t be a total loss. So the band gave me that final push to agree to the “date”.
Little did I know at the time that it had been beer overuse and fatigue that had prompted hubby to ask me on a date that night because the next day he kind of regretted having asked me but couldn’t find a way to get out of it without losing face and he was hoping I’d say no. He told me this after we were together for a few months and we had a good laugh about it!
So I had agreed on the date, purely for the band, because I was certainly not looking for a relationship via the Internet. I went to the place we had agreed to meet, near the venue where the CD presentation would take place and waited for him to show up. I am one for punctuality and was starting to get annoyed at being kept waiting for almost an hour. Luckily for him he called 3 times on my cell phone to tell me he was on his way because if he hadn’t I would have left. I am so glad I didn’t leave though because when he finally showed up, turned around the corner approaching the bench I was sitting on that feeling hit me: THIS IS HIM! I didn’t know why and I definitely didn’t understand it but my gut told me this man was my future. The one I would be with for the rest of my life.
Things progressed quickly from that night on because within two weeks we were practically living together, which we made official after about 5 months when I gave up my flat and in August 2002 he asked me to marry him, and in August 2003, not even 3 years after our first chat, we tied the knot. This year in August we celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary and I am still happy to say that we have what my parents had: a marriage that is happy, healthy, loving, respectful and passionate. We have differences of opinion but we never fight and we never to go sleep angry and we still have hour-long talks about everything and anything.
The only sad thing in this HEA story is that my father didn’t live to meet and experience the man I love, the man he taught me to search for and not settle for anything less, as my father died in 1994, way before I met the love of my life.
Thank you for sharing two amazing love stories Pearl. I’m truly touched.