As I went down to the river (No 6)

If you missed it here is where Mr W asked me on a [I didnt realize it was a date] date.

We spent the afternoon kayaking down the river. Sometimes paddling through the shallow sections but mostly we were carried downstream by the lazy current.  The sky was clear, the sun was out and it was warm. The rare trifecta of Spring Time in Michigan.

Our adventure lasted over 3 hours.  We talked the entire time. Josh told me about his childhood. How much of a hand full he was (my words).  His word choice was more four lettered than mine. He told me when he reached 5th grade, his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. The news broke his world. He began acting out even more, enraged that his mother was sick. His parents sent him to Spring Hill summer camp.  It was there that he found Jesus and experienced the power of His Love.  He was changed. His parents noticed how different their boy is. His mom promised to send him back to camp every summer if he wanted.  He even went back to be a counselor. He told me about his high school years and the group of friends who accepted him as their own. How he watched crappy daytime television and shows like The OC with his mom when she battled round 2 of cancer. He would host OC watching parties and his mom would make desserts. It was during these nights where the entire female population of Midland High would show up to watch the show at his house.  [What a stud]. In Mr W's words It was a one two punch get Josh a lady friend combo.  He talked about her sense of humor. She gave him space to make mistakes but showed up quickly to console him. He learned his passion for snow skiing, boating and water skiing from her.  She would say life is a bowl of cherries and I want to eat every last one.

Josh paused his story telling as we approached where the river had churned out a cove in it's bank. He pulled our kayaks in where the current could no longer tow us downstream. I did not want him to say out loud what  I knew in my heart he would tell me next. I had only met his father and sister.  In his childhood home, there were books kept on the coffee table with her name as the author.  Those walls held pictures of this woman I would never get to meet. His mother had lost her battle with cancer. She died his freshman year of college.

He continued to tell me about his time in school but I don't remember all of those details. What I recall hearing was a boy who was changed by the love of Christ. A boy who deeply loves his mother. A man who tightly embraces family. Man o man do I admire how much he loves his family. And that is what I thought about through the rest of kayaking, driving back to his aunt's and stopping for milkshakes on the way home.

Mr W has given me permission to tell his story. Which, is a big deal because everyone knows how much he loves to tell stories. But he let me have this one. It is one I've been wanting to write since that day back in June of 2009. I realize how precious it has been to get to know my mother-in-law through all of these stories. The stories told to me by her son Mr. W, her daughter, her husband and the entire population of Midland who know she is pretty special. Someone, whom the Lord has taken from us but still remains so alive in people's stories makes her an inspiring woman indeed.

For my mother-in-law, Darlene.
I am so jealous of the time Josh and Jessica had you all to themselves.
Your daughter-in-law


[Yes, I'm asking you on a] Date (No 5)

Part No. 4 left off with Mr. W calling to ask me on a date.

I believe this was on a Wednesday or Thursday. I had just gotten off work and was getting ready to leave on a run when my phone rang. This is almost word for word how it went down.
Josh Hey, are you free this Saturday? For like, a 4 hour chunk of time?
Me  Yes, I'm totally free.
Josh  Awesome! How about I pick you up around 1130? Oh and don't worry about eating lunch beforehand.
Me Okay.
Josh Great, I'm excited! I'll call when I leave my house. Bye..
Me Wait! Um, this might sound high maintenance but what should I wear? I mean, I'm a girl- we need to know these things.
Josh Oh right. Wear a bathing suit under your clothes that you wouldn't mind getting wet.
Me  Okay then, see you Saturday.
And that was how Mr. W asked me on our first date.  I actually had no clue this was, in fact a date. See, Mr. W had (up until this point) always been inviting everyone along for activities ex boating, playing cards, bbq's, movies, tennis clinics, bowling.  So when we hung up, I actually thought he was asking me to go boating on Saturday with a group.  He had invited me boating several times already so I don't know why I thought we were boating. Wouldn't he have just asked me to go boating instead of being all mysterious? This was [Clue No 1].

Saturday morning just after 1130 Josh arrived to take me on our [I didn't know it was a date] date. I hoped in his car, fully expecting to make more stops along the way to pick up other friends.  When that didn't happen [Clue No 2] I noticed we were on the highway and headed out of town.

Midland is tiny. Out of town = greater than 3 miles from the downtown strip.

I can't remember what we talked about but my memory picks up when we stopped at Subway for lunch. I ordered my "usual" veggie on wheat, pepper jack, toasted, everything but olives and jalapenos, with oil and vinegar.  Josh ordered ham on italian with monterey jack, lettuce and mayo.  I tell you all this because after 4 years of ordering Subway together, Josh now orders everything but olives, jalapenos and peppers on his ham sandwiches. Evidence I've pulled him away from his meat and potato roots; though, he still eats ham. Can't win 'em all. Josh then paid for my sandwich [Clue No 3].

He drove us to his aunt's house on the lake. I had been here before because his dad kept The Boat in their driveway during the summers. He introduced me to his Aunt Eileen.  He set up lunch for us on their back deck which overlooked the lake.  It was just the two of us for lunch [clue No 4]. Again I can't remember what we talked about and this is probably because I still didn't realize it was a date.

After lunch, Josh drove us to his parent's property. It was an empty lot with a lot (pun) of wild grass and a trail that led down to the water.  The water is actually a river that feeds the lake his aunt lives on.  It's really simple to picture but having hardly lived in Midland for a few weeks, I had no concept of this middle-of-no-where country Josh had brought me to. Josh pulled two blue kayaks [Clue No 5] out of a shed by the water and hauled them up to the car.

I know I should have picked up on all the other clues but I am terrible at dating so I missed them all. Except this one. My brain clicked. I finally got it. There would be no one else coming with us and no one would be waiting at the final destination to join us. Josh wanted to spend a whole afternoon with me. Just me. Anyone who knows him understands he prefers to invite everyone and anyone along. He deeply desires to make others feel included. However, today everyone else was being left in the dust.

With the kayaks stowed on the Jeep, we drove to the top of the Tobacco River..

To be continued.
Mrs. W


Not a date (No. 4)

psst. here is the beginning just in case :)

Ice cream is a thing during Michigan summers.  There is a quaint, non-chain ma and pa that makes in-house, from scratch ice-cream on almost every corner of town.  My apartment for the summer just happened to be a mile from Great Lakes Creamery.  They have blue ice cream there which tastes exactly like Paramount's Kings Island Blue Smurf ice cream.  Smurf ice cream is the stuff my childhood dreams were made of... Anyway, Great Lakes is the bomb and everyone should get a chance to eat 3 scoops while catching up with a close friend.

A bunch of the other co-ops had left for the weekend to visit family except for me and a guy from Northwestern named David. It was my roommate, Jane's birthday and I think it might have also been Easter weekend. Which explains why everyone was fleeing Midland. David and I tried to entertain ourselves but Midland is tiny.  By Saturday afternoon we were board. Before anyone gets fuzzy on who I was interested in at this point, David is a great buddy but he was in a serious long term relationship and I was pretty keen on this Josh kid. Though, I hadn't told ANYBODY. Except for my girlfriend from school who had just started a pretty special relationship with a boy named Jon ;)

I texted Josh that afternoon asking if he wanted to grab ice cream with me.  I guess I had sort of initiated things but I totally don't remember it feeling like that. During co-op, you were always away from home and familiar friends so everyone was game for becoming instant friends. You invited everyone to join in whatever plans you had all the time. It kept us from being board in the world's smallest town for a global company's headquarters.

Josh was reffing a soccer tournament all weekend (I later found out). So he was too busy earning money to respond back.  I took his non response to mean he was busy so David and I went for ice cream. Later that day Josh would call me and explain how he would LOVE to go for ice cream because it had been hot all weekend while he was reffing. My response [that I am so not proud of and we still talk about it to this day] was "sorry we already went, maybe another time?". Yes! That is what I said. Can you believe me? Well, I can't either.

Flash forward 2 nights later. Josh texted me after work asking if I would get ice cream with him to make up for inviting him along then ditching him over the weekend. I said I would meet him there. I got to Great Lakes when my phone rings. It's Josh telling me he is outside my apartment.  He was there to pick me up.  Whooops! I told him thanks for coming to pick me up but I was already there. I can not believe my 21 year old self now but there are many more of those moments to come.

This moment had arrived where I was face to face with this gorgeous blonde haired, blue eyed man.  I felt like I was talking to an old friend, even though we hadn't really talked much before this moment. We talked about our childhoods, what high school was like for us.  I shared about loving college and my study group of girl friends I couldn't live without.  He told me about his high school buddies who became irreplaceable friends. We talked about his younger sister. I told him about my older sister.  We bonded over sports and playing soccer.  I would later find out all about more about why soccer was so important to him and why he started reffing.  We shut down Great Lakes and they kicked us off the porch at 11pm.

Josh had offered to buy me ice cream that night but I had just eaten dinner and wasn't very hungry. I had rejected this guy twice now without even realizing it. What was I thinking?! I was too busy listening to the stories he was sharing and enjoying his incredibly loud [some times obnoxious but mostly charming] laugh.

It didn't phase him. Though, he still does tease me about rejecting his ice cream offer. He called me about a week later asking me if I had plans for Saturday..

Anyone's guess what was being planned ;)

Mrs. W