Best Laid Plans

I saw this video online last night where a guy did one of those epic marriage proposals. He filmed himself holding a sign every day for a year, asking his girlfriend to marry him. At the end he was standing behind her holding the last one. Pretty creative stuff. But it made me wonder: why does it have to be that complicated? It’s like a YouTube contest to see who can come up with the most Spielbergian way to ask someone for their “hand” in marriage.

What happened to just…asking?

I did have a bit of a plan for proposing to Jenny, but it was nothing like some of those YouTube clips. She was going to come to San Diego, and I was going to take her to Ruth’s Chris steak house, and then to Seaport Village. Maybe ride one of those carriages.

Then she told me her family was having their big Christmas shindig on December 22, which was the date I was going to do the deed. I thought about trying to reschedule all my shenanigans, but I wanted to do it before Christmas if I could.

Then I thought one of the things I loved so much about Jen is her dedication to and love for her family. And it seemed like the perfect place to ask.

So it came to pass on the afternoon of 12/22/2008, I was running a little late and they were waiting for me. I had to pick up the ring at Sand & Stone, where it was being sized. I got it, finally, and I remember going out to the car and fumbling as I tried to get the darn thing into my pocket and dropping it. I got to her parents house, and went into the bathroom for a second, where I dropped it again (thankfully, not in the toilet). I crammed the ring into the little coin pocket in my Levis and went out to the party.

Gifts were opened, and finally everyone was done. Jenny’s brother and his wife got up and were walking across the room. Her grandmother was sitting next to me, but I didn’t think she was paying attention. So I went for it.

“I’ve got one more present,” I told her, and fumbled the ring out of my pocket, nearly dropping it again. “I was wondering if you were busy for the next 50 years or so? ‘Cause I was thinking…wondering…if you’d marry me.”

I was timid, and awkward, and about as sincere as I’d ever been in my life.

She looked at me, then, and because that’s how I roll, I almost lost my stuff. Grandma make a little grandma noise, and I realized she’d been watching the entire time.

“Yes,” said Jenny, and Grandma clapped her hands. Just as I was putting the ring on her finger, David came flying across the room and dove between us. He didn’t like the mushy then, and still doesn’t. Except now John is the wedge.

Anyway, I thought that went pretty well. The ring stayed out of the toilet, and I got a wife out of it. I feel pretty lucky. I didn’t capture anything for YouTube, though. I just took a picture of Jen’s finger and sent it to a few people. Maybe I’ll do something more elaborate for our next big anniversary. Ten years. Coming in four years. We’re hitting 6 years this May.

Love that girl.

Who Is Your Mom?

I wasn’t expecting any emotional catharsis taking the boys to school and Ken and Linda’s house this morning. I was just thinking it would be the usual Monday drop off, and then I would go home and go to sleep, hopefully getting enough rest so the first night shift of the week would not set the tone for the rest of them.

But because life is weird like that, it isn’t what happened.

I don’t remember how the conversation between my youngest (he’s 4) and myself started. It probably doesn’t matter much with kids, because it’s usually video games and cars and things of that nature. As we drove down 24th Street toward Ken and Linda’s house, John asked me the question, “Who is your mom?”

I told him she’d died many years ago. And that her name was Lila Wilkins, and she had blue eyes and liked country music.

“What did she die from, Dad?”

“She had a bad sickness called cancer. She died on February 27, 1987. I was 18 years old.”

“Oh. Grandpa’s Uncle Dee died, too.”

I knew Dee had passed a week or so ago, and he’d probably heard Ken talking about it.

“He’s in Heaven. I wish I could see him.”

“You will one day, buddy. But hopefully not for a long time.”

“I wish I could see God.”

“You’ll see him, too. That’s what heaven’s like. You get to see the people you love again, that went before. And you get to see God and be with him.”

“He wears a white robe,” he told me. “Mimi says.”

“That’s right,” I told him. “And a gold sash, because he’s also a king.”

We pulled into Circle K because I needed some gas, and he dropped this truth bomb on me.

“Uncle Dee is home now,” he told me, in his matter-of-fact little 4 year old voice. “So is your mom.”

“That’s right,” I said, and had to try really hard not to lose it right then.

“What did she die from?”

“Cancer, buddy.”

“She bumped into a cactus?”

I didn’t think it was possible, but I started laughing and crying at the same time. If you think crying makes people ugly, you should have seen that. I had to have looked like a madman. I’d calmed myself down a little by the time I got to Ken and Linda’s, but then I had the brilliant idea to tell them the story and it started all over again. Oh well, they probably already thought I was a goof.

Kids, man. I found out a little later from my older son that apparently, there’s these cactus things in Minecraft that kill you if you bump into them. It’s a dangerous world out there, I guess.