During my early elementary years we lived on Township Road 190 in Holmes County. I rode the school bus and would delightfully bound down its steps after school to our Amish neighbors’ welcoming door. Levi and Verna and their children greeted me with warmth and love. My memories at their farm made a lasting impression on me. Memories that are a good reminder, even now all these years later, we remember how people make us feel more than anything. I believe back then, I loved the Amish culture and way of life simply because I felt love and the true sense of community. I like to think God was already planting the seeds that one day an Amish young man would cross my path and change my life.
The evening I saw Daryl was on November 22, 1991. We didn’t speak that night; he was at my parents’ home with his father bidding a fireplace installation job. He wore these great Amish britches, no doubt lovingly and skillfully made by his mother. I, on the other hand, had my hair-sprayed big bangs, Gap jeans and the latest in Clinique make-up. We were very different, at least on the outside. Another good reminder: don’t judge people or make assumptions because of differences on the outside. We enter the story of each other’s lives for a reason. Judgment can be the thief of great blessings.
The morning Daryl and his brother came to build that fireplace, I had a plan. I woke up early, of course, to fix my hair. I had cinnamon rolls and coffee ready to serve. I served Daryl coffee in a mug that had hearts all over it. Yes, hearts. All over that coffee mug, big, fat, red hearts. My hope was that it would send a silent signal of love and genuine infatuation. Now, I will pause here and admit, this could feel or seem embarrassing and silly, but I still smile and reflect with joy and excitement when I recall these memories. I was experiencing love at first sight.
Engaging in conversation with two Amish young men while they were laying bricks, mixing mud and building a fireplace proved to be a challenge. We had an inside dog at the time and the poor girl, I’m sure, wondered why I was taking her out every half hour. And then, something unexpected happened. The gas logs for the fireplace didn’t fit and my mother suggested I drive Daryl to exchange the logs for the correct set. The store was about an hour away and this provided an opportunity to talk and connect. Let me rephrase that, this provided an opportunity for me to talk and Daryl to listen and add to our conversation when he saw fit. It was during that trip we talked about seeing the movie Dances with Wolves. Our date was set for Saturday, November 30, 1991.
Next week: Part III of Big Bangs & Amish Britches.