I've been teasing you lately with the promise of a great proposal story, and now here it is.
On May 9, our second-oldest son got engaged to a lovely young lady whom we are thrilled to welcome as a fourth daughter. This is a date my husband and I will never forget because it is also the birthday of my late father-in-law, a figure beloved by so many, who would be 86 if he hadn't been taken from us--way too soon--back in 2003. Papa lived for his grandchildren, and he would have certainly approved of his grandson's choice of a mate.
Three of our other sons are married already; son #1 got married in December of 2009, son #3 in December of 2013, and son #4 in February of 2014. Now son #2 and his bride-to-be are looking at a November 2014 wedding date. Our firstborn pointed out recently that the oldest four in our family were born less than five years apart, and now they're going to all be married within five years of each other. He had quite a head start on his younger brothers, but the three of them are making up for lost time by getting married in one 11-month period.
All this is to say that life will surprise you! Just when I thought it was a possibility that our #1 son's girls might be old enough to babysit for their Pearl cousins, because none of our other boys were dating anyone seriously yet, their uncles totally made up for lost time (and now one of them is expecting his first little one!). My husband and I have always prayed for our sons' future wives, that they were out there and that our boys would find them sooner rather than later...and boy, have our prayers been answered.
Our three married sons met their wives on CatholicMatch.com. And you might say that Catholic Match had a hand in this union as well, because the bride-to-be is a college friend of son #3's wife Preciosa. She was a bridesmaid at their wedding last December, and son #2 was a groomsman for his brother. The two of them talked at the reception, but never got around to dancing with each other. Yet soon afterward, they began to text each other, which led to epic phone conversations, which led to visits by plane and by car between her home in VA and his here in NH.
It didn't take long for two mature 29-year-olds to realize this might be the real deal. They saw in each other just what they'd been looking for: both are strong in their Catholic Faith and wanted to find someone with whom to share that; both are teachers; both are extremely family-oriented. It seemed like a match made in Heaven--but to be sure, they decided to say a 54-day Rosary novena to help them discern if this was what God wanted for them.
They prayed a Rosary together every night, for 54 nights, mostly over the phone (except for on those weekends when one happened to be visiting the other). With a beginning like that, how could God fail to bless these two kids and their relationship? Have you ever heard of such an inspiring courtship, where two young people immediately put God's wishes for them above their own?
The novena ended, and they felt ready to move ahead, to take the next big step. So my son began to devise a complicated plan to surprise his sweetheart with an extremely special proposal. He told her he was flying down on Friday after school, but in reality he took a personal day on Thursday and stayed with her sister's family that night. While she was at work on Friday, he snuck into her house and set up a scavenger hunt, with each romantic clue hand-written on antique-looking treasure map paper and sealed with red wax (and a heart stamp).
[A quick aside here: her folks asked my husband if our son got this romantic side from him, and we both had a hearty laugh. We don't know where our boys get this tendency. I'm beginning to suspect they're secretly on Pinterest.]
The scavenger hunt ended with a pair of pretty pearl earrings, and then my son's unsuspecting future fiancée's younger brother (who was in on the ruse) drove with her over to their church, where they had plans to take their priest friend out for a bite to eat (supposedly!). When they arrived at the church, the priest was waiting outside with another scavenger hunt clue, and when she saw the treasure map paper again, she knew what was happening. Inside the church, my son was waiting for her in front of the exposed Blessed Sacrament (the priest had been in on the plan, too, obviously), and that's where he got down on bended knee and presented her with a diamond solitaire.
I have never in all my life known anyone whose proposal occurred on a church altar in front of the exposed Blessed Sacrament, but apparently it's more common in that part of VA in which the future bride lives. It makes me want to move to this hotbed of Catholicity! Have you ever heard of something like this?
These two kids will be getting married exactly 11 months and one day after meeting for the very first time. But when your union starts off with a 54-day Rosary novena and a proposal in front of the Blessed Sacrament, with God at the center from the get-go, I like your odds for a long and happy marriage.