Glad She Turned Out To Be My Type

Version 2Part of my high school yearbook treasure hunt yielded this gem from our junior year (’77). This was a full year before our serious friendship began.  Debbie and I took a typing class together for which I recall three highlights:

1.  While the rest of the class used sleek, new “IBM Selectric” typewriters, Debbie used an ancient dinosaur of a machine in the back of the class, the size of the original Gutenberg printing press (see photo below).  When I asked her one time why she insisted on using that monster, she replied (in typical Debbie fashion), “I think its fun!”.  That probably contributed to her lack of progress in the class and why she wrote, “. . .you were in my typing class (even though I never learned to type).”

2.  Ms. Thompson (our teacher) would begin each timed typing test the exact same way by saying, “Fingers in position. . .eyes on copy. . .ready. . .BEGIN!”.

3. And upon Ms. Thompson’s “BEGIN!”, I  would occasionally reach under my desk with my foot and unplug John Sherlock’s typewriter which resulted in some sailor language from him in my direction.  I believe he returned the favor to me several times. But no hard feelings!  John and I ended up as roommates for four years at James Madison University, he was the best man at our wedding, and he’s one of my closest and best friends to this day.

Deb GutenbergAnd speaking of friends, I like how Debbie concluded her entry, “I’m glad you are my friend.  Have a good time over the summer & next year”.

Yes, I’m glad we were friends in ’77 and shared this class.  But reading her words written almost 40 years ago floods my heart with gratitude that God would bring us together a year later during Beach Week ’78 and enroll us in His class, “How To Find Your Soul Mate 101”.  And the first lesson was, “She may not type, but she’s your type”.

“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever!” (Ps 106:1)

June 1978 – The Fun Begins!

Deb Senior Year Book   I thought it would be cool to find some memorabilia associated with the start of my relationship with Debbie. That led to an archeological dig in the basement looking for our high school year books, specifically our senior year (1978).  You can read here about how our friendship started the week after graduation in June ’78 during “Beach Week” at Ocean City, MD. After several hours of searching, and finding every other year book EXCEPT 1978, I finally stumbled on both of our copies.  I couldn’t wait to see what we had written in each other’s books, and honestly couldn’t recall if we wrote anything.

The picture below shows how my curiosity was rewarded.  This is what Debbie wrote in my yearbook, probably during Beach Week or shortly thereafter.

My Year Book Debs Entry   She wrote very kind and sweet words, indicative of her own kindness and how our friendship was quickly becoming something special. But what caught my eye today and took my breath away was the “P.S. I Love You”.  This is the first time I saw that, which means she inserted it some time later either during our courtship or marriage, intending it to be a nice surprise for me.  Mission accomplished – what a wonderful blessing!

The picture below shows what I wrote in Debbie’s yearbook, again probably during Beach Week in ’78:

Version 2 I really love the yearbook picture of Deb in her “RM Class of ’78” t-shirt because it wonderfully captures Deb’s sense of humor and zeal for life.  I also love the caption, “Debbie Gifford hopes to be discovered by a talent scout.”  I don’t know if I qualify as a talent scout, but I’m sure glad I discovered in June 1978 what an amazing person Debbie was.  Our lifelong adventure was just beginning, and I look forward to sharing other great stories with you.  Rather than be chronological, the stories will jump around based on what other treasures I uncover during my labor of love going through our 36 years of memorabilia.  I’m looking forward to it, and I hope you are as well!

Our Family

I love this picture.

First and foremost – everyone is happy! Not a forced smile, smirk, or pathetic attempt at humor. But we’re all smiling ear-to-ear and genuinely ecstatic to be there, in the moment and enjoying it – together.

Jeffrey’s expression is priceless! Alan and I are thinking, “How crazy is this???”.

And there’s Debbie. The sparkle in her eyes. The dimples imprinted on her cheeks. Her beautiful, long brown hair flowing freely beyond her shoulders down to her waist. Her left hand intertwined in mine, wedding rings visible, representing our union together.

And in this picture, as in everyday life, Debbie was connecting all of us together.

This is our family. Connected, loving, laughing, and experiencing life as one.  Whatever we encountered, we faced it together. Obviously we had no clue at the time that in less than 10 years, the strength of our family bond, as well as our faith in God, would be put to the ultimate test.

This picture was taken in the 2004 timeframe by a professional photographer friend of Deb’s who offered to take some family photos of us. We had not had a family photo professionally taken in ages, so this seemed like a great opportunity. Looking back, I’m so glad we did. The location was a beautiful garden in the Springfield-Annandale area. I think the photographer said something like, “OK, let’s have some fun with this next picture”, after which Debbie immediately jumped into our arms and the photographer masterfully captured the moment. I believe we maxed out the fun meter, because with Deb in the middle of things, you couldn’t help but have fun!

This is how I picture Deb now.  Heaven is her home, and she is in God’s presence. She’s still smiling, with those sparkling eyes and deep dimples on full display. And she’s healthy, happy, and carefree.

She’s also waiting – waiting for the day we can join her and once again be connected by love and laughter in a place infinitely more beautiful than the place where this picture was taken (although it was amazing).

I’ve been dreaming about Deb a lot lately, and this is how she appears. These dreams remind me that she’s OK, and one day very soon (in the context of eternity), we’ll be together again. I can’t wait.

That’s how I get through each day. Because I know better days are ahead, and as Frank Sinatra said, “the best is yet to come!”.

“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal”. (2 Cor 4:18)