It started with a glance at school and a kiss on a balcony. Lord Byron could not have described her better:
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling place.
The darkness of her pooling brown eyes relayed a shy but strong spirit that would be displayed in the years to follow. Generations of her people had lived in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains and bored deep inside of her the strength of nation that had been forced out of their homeland many years ago. Her maturity was years beyond her age, and she demanded that life be what she expected it to be. There would be no negotiation.
Now, she stood before a boy on a balcony in a beautiful dress at her high school prom. She made him nervous. He tried to appear cool and calm, but this was not an average high school girl. Her smile invited conversation, even though she was few on words. The boy felt the need to talk and babbled on about football, his tuxedo, her dress, the music, the temperature, and deer hunting. She smiled. It was all that he really needed to keep him focused and shifting his weight from one leg to the other. The boy has dated many girls before, but she was completely different: a sweet and relaxed energy, while maintaining a mature and focused demeanor. Again, Lord Byron seemed to sum it up:
And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!
From that night forward, the girl and boy were inseparable. The girl was patient with his lack of maturity, and he in turn taught her to laugh hard and see the beauty in things around her. They grew deeply in love and bonded their hearts into a shield that life could not break. And as time allowed the boy to think, he realized that the girl was part of a greater plan. He asked her to marry him in a Chinese restaurant before he left to join the Army. She agreed and waited.
The boy and girl grew together, but she always ahead of him. The young man’s military service allowed the two kids to see the world, including a semi-nude beach in Spain where the young man became so burned that he turned purple, painful but funny. It was in those years, that the true definition of love was discovered and deepened between the two and that could only blossom into a family. Their son was born in Europe, and their daughter four years later in Alabama. Love had been cultivated, and now the seeds were part of nurturing environment that would carry on into a legacy of love for future generations.
Now, it is twenty-five years later and four are becoming two again. Time appeared to evaporate, like sand pouring between the man and woman’s fingers. It seemed like yesterday and a million years ago when the boy stood with the girl on the balcony. He was nervous then and nervous twenty-five years later, wondering how to adjust to a quieter house. The love is continuing to deepen, and life is unimaginable without each other.
I still look at Tammy with wonder and awe. She has inspired me to greater heights than I ever believed I could have climbed. I am still grateful for that kiss on the balcony, for it was then that I found my destiny and will treasure her for the rest of my years.