Is this another Prank? That was my first thought when my brother Todd called and said he wanted to set me up with a blind date. This would be with a nurse named Morgan that he worked with at the hospital. As brothers, we had quite a history of pulling jokes on each other; some quite humiliating. So why, now, would my brother want to set up a blind date for me?
I am not sure why but, I agreed to meet Morgan at a local restaurant. Surprisingly the first meeting was actually OK. Initially we just became friends who occasionally went out to dinner together. A few months into our platonic relationship, she did not show up for something I thought we had planned. It was later determined this was a miscommunication, but at the time, this was not acceptable to me. It was time to end this friendship. I even shared my displeasure with a close friend named Chris; vowing to not spend any more time with Morgan.
A few weeks later, over a couple of beers, I boosted to him that I could throw a football over my shoulder into a kiddy pool out in the yard. I challenged Chris, if successful, he would have to wear a Florida Gator shirt on the FSU game day. He retorted that if it missed, I would have to call this woman and ask her out. I was certain I would make this easy shot, so we made the bet. Just as planned, the ball landed dead center of the pool, but it hit a slide and bounced out. We both laughed and I forgot about this silly bet.
A few weeks later, Morgan called me and incredulously wanted to know, why I was supposed to ask her out because of a lost a bet! I was even more incredulous that Chris actually tracked her down to share my bet obligation. Really? Well one thing led to another, then another and now we have been married 28 years.
This has been a crazy adventure with a very happy ending. Together we raised four children (two of mine, two of hers).
There have been many ups and downs with numerous births, deaths, funerals and emergency room visits. Early on, there were child custody hearings, death threats and more. Somehow, we hung together through too many other life-threatening crises. Some were so tough, I do not know how we made it through to the other side. Our first grandchild Tyler was born at 1lb, 5 oz. at 23 weeks and spent nearly 3 months in the hospital. He is now 20 years old and If there is a light at the end of the day, he has seen it multiple times. We later lost our second Grandchild. There have been low points, like when we were asked to appear on Dr. Phil (this is a different story for a different day). Or when we came very close to divorce which was heartbreaking for both of us. But the tough times make you stronger and I believe this is true for us.
Somehow, she has always stood by me through political campaigns, lawsuits, pain and misery; now we are closer than ever. Life has evolved to where twice we have given each other the same anniversary card. There are times we can finish each other’s sentences; which is a bit scary
Where our relationship blossomed is when she dragged me biting scratching and screaming to walk the 500 mile Camino; this forever changed our lives.
As my partner in life, she was with me when I saw God. She was with me when I saw the ghosts of the universe fly by. She held my hand when they were checking me for ALS and tests for other potentially life threating diseases including cancer. The cementing factor of our relationship is; there have been lots of laughs and loving.
Over time, we have walked on this beautiful planet in incredible places around the world from New Zealand to Australia to Ireland to France and more. There have also been treks across Spain and Scotland. We have downsized and now our mission is to walk on islands, beaches, mountains, greenways everywhere we go. We are now making plans for a pilgrimage in Italy. Yes, we are now addicted to exploring our world by foot and connecting with others. If you want to experience it, you have to walk up to and through it. I must admit one of my favorites was when we walked across Abby Road in London.
For me, a walk would not be an adventure without Morgan. She is my best friend and these days I am walking in honor of my wife Morgan. It has been an incredible journey and we have only just begun. For my brother, Todd and friend Chris; no this was not a prank; it has been an incredible gift. Sorry guys, this one backfired. You gave me magic.
So, I urge you to grab a family member, or friend, or go solo. Go for a walk and reflect on the one’s in your life you love. I promise it will make your heart warm and bring joy to your life.
Are you in?
© March 2017
Originally published in the Tallahassee Democrat 03/04/2017