I first met Barbara in early December, twenty five years ago. I would like to write that it was “love at first sight”, but I don’t think that is true. The first time I saw Barbara, she walked into my friend’s apartment as I sat at his kitchen table, stuffing take out fried chicken into my mouth. She was very pretty, but I don’t remember immediately falling in love with her.
Learning to love Barbara was a process, not an event. It took most of that evening before I realized that she was the woman I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. In those vital first moments, I was really more intent on the chicken than on love. Later, as we danced and chatted at a local night club, I began to realize that I wanted to know her more than anyone else I had ever met. It didn’t have much to do with how she treated me. It had everything to do who she was. And the more I realized who she was, the more I wanted to know. The fact that she seemed somewhat indifferent to my interest in her only made me more certain that it was her that I wanted, and not what she could do for me.
By the end of that evening, I was determined to know her better. I learned that she would likely be attending a Christmas party thrown by a fellow who worked with me at HP. I called the girl I had been dating for the previous few weeks and told her that it was over. I realize now how cold that was, and I regret how I handled it. However, I am positive that freeing myself to pursue Barbara whole heartedly was the right thing to do.
I attended the party and waited anxiously until she arrived. From that moment on, she was my total focus. We danced, laughed, and talked. We talked and talked until the wee hours of the morning. Every other guest had left with the exception of Barbara’s roommate. The roommate was busy becoming very involved with the host of the party. They married not long after that, and as far as I know, are married to this day.
We honestly just talked that first night. At the end of the night, we each drove off to our separate homes. However, I had asked her out. I took her to dinner in San Francisco the next evening. As we waited for our table at the Cliff House, we stood outside, high above the Pacific surf. The sun hung just above the horizon. A chill wind blew in off the ocean, so I took off my leather jacket and hung it around Barbara. Then I stood behind her and circled her with my arms. Both of us still remember that moment vividly.
This weekend Barbara and I spent a romantic two day get away at a cozy little house perched on a cliff above a spectacular section of the Oregon coast. I had lots of time to carefully consider how our love has grown. Twenty five years have passed. I have come to love her more deeply as God has developed my capacity to love. I thank God for the years of love we have had. I thank God for drawing us to him. As we grow ever closer to God, we grow closer to each other.