Tuesday, July 12, 2011
He walked toward the field. My girlfriend and I had signed up for a new coed softball league through our town recreation department. We had been placed on a team formed by a graduate of the other high school in our town. Dan was introducing us to the guys he had conjured up to play on the team. I was a full time Nanny at the time, loving my life, but certainly interested in meeting a decent man to spend my free time with. This is "BoBo" Dan said. "BoBo?" I thought, he was a tall, strawberry blond, in excellent shape and very attractive. Soon my bubble would be busted though, I found out he was dating a girl he had been dating about three years. I had noticed other guys on the team, attractive, nice, hopefully they weren't all taken. Meeting a guy in a bar wasn't appealing to me, so my high school friend and I had decided to try this idea. So far, I was thinking it was a good one, as Dan introduced us to one guy after another. The team wanted to bond, to build camaraderie, so what else do young adults do together? They go to the local bar after games, an ironic twist to my plan. It was fun though, hanging out with all these new people and hearing their stories, it was the spring of 1988 and I was not yet 21 years old. How I got into the bar, I don't remember, but I do remember enjoying my time with all of them. They had all graduated from high school in 1983 and most had graduated from college also. I had not gone the college route, loving kids I had gotten into childcare even before high school graduation. After Christmas break in my senior year of high school I had asked my school counsellor what I could do to graduate early. I had had it with high school and had taken so many electives I figured it was probably possible for me to graduate after January testing was done. He confirmed my suspicion, saying I just had to pass health, but they would allow psychology 101 at the local community college to count as health. Somehow I then landed a sweet job as a live in Nanny in one of my favorite parts of our city. Living with the family and caring for a sweet baby. I also had much freedom, it was a great time in my life. I only planned on being in that position until I left for college in August though. It turned out college wasn't my thing, as much as I wanted it to be. I just couldn't stop thinking about wanting to work with kids again and the independence I had had when working. Much to everyones disappointment I left SUNY Geneseo after just one semester to work as a Nanny again. My Uncle had been a professor at Geneseo and my oldest sister had graduated from there, so I'm sure I broke some hearts, but I was following mine. The three families I Nannied for after leaving college had treated me well, we were all very close and I enjoyed my job. I had a couple different apartments and different roommates during those years, living the typical young free life. The softball team became a major part of my social life, as we began to go out often outside softball games. BoBo was still intriguing to me, a super nice guy, he brought his Uncle onto the team. Obviously his Uncle had some sort of disability, but Mark (his real name, I had stopped calling him BoBo, following what Uncle Steve called him) never said a word about it. He just treated his Uncle with kindness and respect. Uncle Steve was just part of the team, hanging with us all often. I loved that Mark didn't make excuses for bringing him, there was no "My Mom makes me." offered, which to me made Mark even more attractive. At some point Mark said to me, "My Mom's name is Ellie." I replied "I wonder if she is the Big Ellie I was named after?" Turns out Mark's family and mine had been good friends many years ago through both our oldest sisters and through Girl Scouting. They had since lost track of each other, but there had been a decent bond. His Mom and my Mom were friends when I was born and my Mom liked the name Ellie, short for Eleanor. I am the youngest of five and my siblings vetoed Eleanor but agreed to Ellen, with Ellie as a nickname. In school I was mostly Ellen, as that is what the teachers would read and I never corrected them, but after high school I started using Ellie exclusively, just as my family and close friends did. One night Mark "cried on my shoulder that he and his girlfriend had broken up." I'm sure I tried to contain my joy and be supportive, but by this time I knew I could fall for this guy hard! Shortly after that, since he was obviously too shy to make a move, I asked him for dinner at my apartment with another couple. That was December 17th, 1988 and since then we have barely been apart. We were engaged on Valentines Day 1989 and married on August 12, 1989. Mark's kindness to his Uncle turned out to be one of the best qualities I could have found in a husband and a father because in December 1998 we were blessed with our second child Teale, severely brain damaged from a stroke at birth. Mark had been a fantastic father to our older son Beau, (named after Mark in a unique way) but with Teale, he truly shines. Since then we had a third child, Gwenn. Being a parent with Mark is my greatest joy and my toughest challenge, but I wouldn't want to do it with anyone else. I give much credit to Uncle Steve for bringing us together, he brought out the best in Mark and I noticed! Today is Mark's 46th Birthday, hard to believe we have known each other since he was a mere 22 years old. I feel BLESSED every day to have "found" Mark! Happy Birthday Honey!