This past Memorial Day my family got together in Arkansas. One of my sisters asked Daddy to share a bit of family history with us and wondered if he would write down the story of how he and Mom met? When a parent is suddenly gone, you realize how many stories and how much information disappears with them! Daddy agreed to do that, and he has also agreed to letting me share that story here and I am delighted! I'll give you the first part today, and the last part on Thursday.......
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I started attending the Woodlawn Amish Mennonite Church when I was 16 years of age. Before that I always attended the Amish church where my parents were members. My brother, Al, who was a year and 8 months older than I, was already attending there, so it was an easy adjustment for me. I could just be his shadow. The Woodlawn Church was fairly new at that time, but people were very friendly, and I soon had friends among the youth boys, even though I was very shy and quiet.
Because we lived a little ways from the Woodlawn Church, we picked up three Amish girls from another home who were also attending Woodlawn. Alma was one of those girls and I immediately thought she was a nice girl. It took awhile for me to have the courage to have a date because.... well, some things take awhile for shy boys. I had one date with Alma while I was still 16. It was a double date which means another couple was along and we played games and I enjoyed the evening. But I was aware that she had an eye on Ervin, another one of the youth boys. Maybe she didn't want an ex-Amish boy?
Just before I turned 17, one Sunday evening Mel Shetler got the notion some of us should have dates that evening. He got Ervin and Alma together and suggested he would ask Lavina and I should ask Orpha. I wasn't about to ask anybody, much less Orpha! But I said if he did the asking, and if I could have Lavina instead of Orpha, I might consent. Well, he was that kind of guy. He did the asking and we had a triple date. Lavina was the nice girl that had a birth mark on her right leg just above the ankle. That is about all I knew about her at that time. I had no particular attraction toward her at the time, but also no objection. We went to her parents place that night and took a boat ride on the river that ran along the back of her father's farm. Again, I enjoyed the evening and thought a little more favorably of the girl named Lavina. She had handled her part well in hosting the evening.
Over the next year we had a few more dates, maybe once every three months, just enough that she didn't have any other dates nor did I. I thought of her as mine. Somewhere about that time, one evening when we were alone, she told me she wished we would stop seeing each other. She told me frankly she did not have anything against me; she just wasn't ready to be thinking about a serious courting relationship with anybody. She was not saying she never would consider it, but not now. I wanted to believe her, but I wondered if it didn't have something to do with being an inadequate little Amish boy. I went home that night feeling very sad, probably a little like most martyrs feel. I still had my admiration for her, but I knew I was locked out now. I could not imagine myself ever getting up enough nerve to ask her again. Could you?
And so, the next period of time I lived in the desert. I don't really know how long it was, maybe a year and a half. I had two dates with other girls during that time. I would often see Lavina at Youth activities and wish I could talk to her even if it was just friendly talk, but I was too bashful. I was often jealous of other boys who were able to have lengthy casual conversations with her, especially Mel Shetler.