Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Amen Family - How It All Started (Part IV)

Now you know we started dating in the autumn of 1999.  Here’s a very brief recap of the next 7 years:

November 1999 - Mr. Amen travels to MI to meet my family at Thanksgiving.
December 2000 – I travel to Mr. Amen’s home country at Christmas to meet his family.
March 2001 – I buy a house in a northern suburb of Tulsa.
May 2001 – We complete our MBAs and graduate from O.RU together.  I start my new job.
August 2001 – Mr. Amen starts his new job (work visa snafu delayed his start date).
February 2002 – Mr. Amen moves out of his grandma’s house and into his own apartment.
July 2003 – I move to MI to be closer to family.  We continue dating long-distance.
September 2006 – Mr. Amen decides that he is going to move back to his home country in March of 2007, about six months before his work visa was set to expire.

Phew!  That was a fast 7 years.

I had planned a trip to Tulsa for Thanksgiving weekend 2006.  A couple days before leaving, Mr. Amen called me and said that we were invited to attend an engagement party on the Friday of that weekend.

Maybe I should back up for a moment.  Over the years, Mr. Amen and I had talked about getting married.  I had known from very early in our relationship that I wanted to marry him.  He, however, was much slower in reaching the conclusion that he wanted to marry me.  He knew he wanted to get married, he just wasn’t sure about timing, me, etc.  Right when I was beginning to think he never was going to want to marry me, he dropped a bomb on me - in September 2006 he told me he was planning on moving back to his home country.  If he moved back, there was virtually no chance we would ever marry.  It was virtually certain we wouldn’t continue our relationship if that happened.  (I could swing a $275 flight to Tulsa every few months …an $800 flight to Latin America every few months, was not financially feasible.)

Understandably, I was upset at his decision.  I had known for quite some time that I was supposed to marry this man.  If things didn’t work out, I was not willing to start over again in a new relationship.  It was Mr. Amen or the religious life for me.  (I had secretly always wanted to be a nun – those habits, the prayer life, helping people, being married to Christ!)  My decision was to enjoy the time we had left together and leave it in God’s hands.  If God really wanted us together, He would have to speak to Mr. Amen, I wasn’t going to mention my disappointment or frustration and I would not try to change his mind.

In the meantime, his younger cousin was still with her high school boyfriend and in the first semester of her senior year of college.  Her boyfriend was a junior in college.  They were the newly engaged couple.

Back to where I left off…I was so upset I could barely speak.  I told him that I didn’t want to go to the engagement party.  He was free to go, I would stay behind and maybe go out with some other friends that night.  I was thrilled for the happy couple, but I just couldn’t bring myself to go out in public and celebrate with them. 

(It’s very similar to the feeling us IFs have when we hear a pregnancy announcement – complete joy for the new parents, but a sinking, “Why not me?” feeling for ourselves.  We need some time to process our feelings and pain and then we put on our happy face and congratulate them.  But we need that private time to get to the happy place.  It may take minutes to get there, it may take much, much longer to compose ourselves enough that our congratulations are sincere, but for most of us, we do get there eventually.)

Mr. Amen decided he’d rather spend the evening with me.  We planned to go to a movie.  There was a new Br.ad P.itt movie out, Ba.bel, that we wanted to see.  If you haven’t seen that movie, it is worth seeing, but, I warn you, it is very emotionally intense (and not at all suitable for children).  So intense, in fact, that Mr. Amen had to step out of the theatre several times and wanted to leave entirely.  I was really into the movie and refused to leave.

(If you’ve never seen the movie, it’s all about the miscommunications and turmoil that happen around the world because we don’t speak the same language and not just verbally.  In one of the several intertwined storyline, the character played by Br.ad P.itt is a husband whose wife has been accidentally shot in rural Morocco.  He is desperately trying to get proper medical attention for his wife, who is fading fast.  “Desperately” is a total and complete understatement.)

After the movie ended and as we approached the car, Mr. Amen came around the passenger side with me to open my door, like he always did.  I was completely caught off-guard when he enveloped me in a big bear hug and said, “Don’t ever leave me!”

I replied, “I’m not leaving you.  You’re leaving me, remember?”

He said, “No, I’m not.  I can’t be without you.  We have to be together.”

And with that, we were effectively engaged.  Next steps was for Mr. Amen to tell his mother that he was not moving back home and that he was marrying me.  He went on a trip to Vegas at Christmas with his mom and broke the news there. 

The official engagement happened a couple months later.  He planned a trip to Michigan to speak with my parents and ask their permission.  I picked him up at the airport and we went back to my parents’ house.  He asked them out to brunch and I stayed behind.  He very politely told my parents that he loved me and that I loved him and he wanted their permission to marry me.  (Gotta love how he doesn’t beat around the bush!)  My parents approved.  That night we went out to my favorite Italian restaurant.  A few minutes after we sat down, he dropped to one knee and proposed to me with my grandmother’s ring* and a beautiful diamond necklace.  I said yes, the other people at the restaurant cheered, and I cried throughout the rest of the meal.  Mr. Amen said he was surprisingly nervous, even though he knew I’d say yes.

*I had wanted to use my paternal grandmother’s wedding set when I got married.  As her eldest granddaughter, I was to inherit her wedding set and a pearl ring my grandfather had given her.  Unfortunately, my uncle “lost” the wedding set.  My mother offered me my maternal grandmother’s wedding set, and since I am a lover of all the old family heirlooms, I was thrilled to have it and had told Mr. Amen that it was available.

1 comment:

  1. aww so sweet! now I finally know what took so long and I love that u have ur grandmother's ring!