Tuesday, February 28, 2023

The Courting Chairs

 The Courting Chairs


February is often viewed as a dismal month. The days are shorter, meaning darkness falls early. The dreary winter days are often marked by colder temperatures. 

The month is so dismal it has been declared one of the highest times of the year for people to suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder…SAD. It is a type of depression brought on by the dark and often cold winter months.


This year, my mother and I traveled from our home in Ohio to spend the month of February at the Waters’ family home on a beautiful lake in Florida. It is kind of a “vaccine” against SAD. Or sadness. 

We’re from the Sunshine State, so for us it is “going home” and going home tends to cure many illnesses.


The weather has been perfect. We’ve walked every day in the Florida sunshine. We’ve visited with many family and friends. We’ve picked Japanese plums and vibrant pink azaleas. It has been so warm and so relaxing we tend to forget it is February.


My mother and I actually made plans to do this last summer before Mike and I started seriously dating. 

Mike lives in the same neighborhood as the Lake House. It has been wonderful to see him nearly every day, share meals, and get to know his family better. My Waters family has graciously welcomed him as a new member of our tribe.


Sometimes, in the evening after dinner, Mike will come over and take a couple of lawn chairs down near the water’s edge. The two of us sit, talk, and enjoy the lake views. 


My mom calls the lawn furniture our “courting chairs.” 

The "Courting Chairs"


I embrace the notion that although we are to be married in April, we are still “courting.” There is always gentle breeze in the evening, causing the Spanish moss to sway in the cypress trees. 

Occasionally, a boat comes by or a fish jumps. As we sit together by the lake, we exchange stories of our childhood and memories of our high school days. We share our dreams for the future.


Mike makes me laugh. I love his stories and the way he can find humor in any situation.


Laughing... Talking... Sharing... Dreaming….Courting.


I hope we never get so lost in the busyness of life that we stop courting. 


We won’t always be at the Lake House. Once we marry in April, we’ll spend time in both Ohio and Florida. We hope to travel and have compiled a bucket list of experiences and destinations we will both enjoy.


But wherever we land, I hope we’ll always remember to claim a couple of “courting chairs” to enjoy the stillness of the evening and our dreams for tomorrow.






Tuesday, February 21, 2023

One Mile at a Time

 One Mile at a Time


I know some people who believe empowerment comes through mastering a second language or learning karate. I’ve known people who think manipulating people or skirting the law is empowering. Seriously. 


Sometimes, real power comes from facing down fear or learning how to overcome obstacles. Real power comes from facing a daunting task head on…and conquering it.  

I recently witnessed this force in action. 


My mother and I decided to spend the month of February in Florida. When we announced we were leaving the cold weather of Ohio for a bit of sunshine, my twenty-year-old grandson, Joshua, decided he would like to come for a visit. His college classes are online this term and his work schedule is somewhat flexible. 


Driving the nine hundred plus miles from Ohio to our home in the Sunshine State would be his first road trip of great distance. We all had confidence in his driving skill and if he needed, arrangements could be made for an overnight stay along the way. Still, he had never driven further than a fifty-mile radius from home. Alone, that is.

We all followed his journey...one mile at a time.


I know many people who shy away from such a challenge. It seems daunting. They fear the unknown. They become plagued with the “what ifs.”


We’ve likely all had those moments. I know I have.


To advance to candidacy status in my doctoral degree, I had to pass a qualifying exam. The exam consisted of three questions. I would be allotted six hours to answer the first question. The second question was offered the next day and was a four-hour question. The final question was offered on the third day. It too, was a four-hour question. These obviously were not short answer questions. Furthermore, I had to defend my answers to my committee the following week.


How do you prepare for such an exam? 

Study? I’d been doing that throughout my course of study. 

Pray? Okay, yes, I did pray. A lot.

Eventually, what I found most helpful was a trip to King’s Island, a local amusement park.


You see, I was deathly afraid of roller coasters. I was able to avoid them as long as at least one of my daughters didn’t meet the height requirement and I had to stay on the sidelines with that one and watch.  But the year I was to take the three-question, three-day qualifying exam in July, my youngest "shield" reached the magic height and could ride every roller coaster in the park.


I drew in my breath, mustered my courage and by the end of the day I had successfully conquered every coaster in King’s Island. It was a blast. Moreover, conquering that fear allowed me to conquer my fear of the upcoming exam.


I took on the challenge of King’s Island one coaster at a time.

I studied and prepared for each question “one coaster” at a time. 


I know Joshua will draw on his solo trek to Florida for years to come. It’s one of those, “If I can do that, I can do anything” moments.


A challenging assignment in school? One mile at a time.

Balancing school and work? One mile at a time.

A tough assignment in his job? One mile at a time.

Necessary travel for work? One mile at a time.

Any of the life challenges he faces, Joshua will be able to face each “One mile at a time.” 


Life is, after all, a journey.

What experience do you still hold to for energy an strength? I'd love to hear your story...















Tuesday, February 14, 2023

The Proposal

 The Proposal


“I’m going to do this right,” Mike said. He got down on one knee. 


Actually, engagements are rarely the big and dramatic events we see in Hallmark movies. Love grows over time. Rarely is the woman totally surprised. 

Hmmm...Perhaps it would be better to start this post at the beginning.


If you’ve read my blog these past couple of weeks you already know that I am engaged to be married in April to a wonderful man named Mike. We’ve known each other since ninth grade. We reconnected via our high school class reunion.


We’ve enjoyed the traditional dates at restaurants and such, but being the very modern, young couple we are, we talk and text a lot. We keep our cell phones busy. 



Once we made the decision to marry, Mike wanted me to pick out the ring of my dreams. I did. I think my choice surprised him. He was ready and willing  to deck me out with a big diamond solitaire that announced to the world I was engaged to be married. 


“I’m just not that kind of girl,” I explained. “This is the one I love. It makes me feel like a princess.” Yes, I actually said that. Princess and all. But it’s true. I love this ring and all it symbolizes.


Mike had to have it resized. He brought it to my house on December 29th. Yep, he drove those 930+ miles to propose.


Not a Christmas gift. It was after Christmas but in time for the New Year.


“I’m going to do this right,” Mike said. He got down on one knee. (Hey, for a man in his sixties…that’s commitment right there.)


He opened the velvet box with the red ribbon revealing the ring. “Becky Williams Waters, will you marry me?”


I have to admit this was more overwhelming than I imagined. It turns out I was surprised after all. Tears of joy welled up in my eyes. The smile on my face was so big it hurt. I was giddy. I know many women have heard those words…”will you marry me”…but this man… this man I love kneeling before me stirred my heart in a way I did not expect. 


“Absolutely!” I told him.


Mike took the ring from the box and put it on my finger.

And then he kissed me.


We met up later with my oldest daughter, Allison, at a park to snap some engagement pictures. There was still a bit of snow on the ground and a chill in the air. It was perfect. I’m posting some of those photos here. Enjoy!


Tuesday, February 7, 2023

The Picnic

 The Picnic


It is no accident I am sharing this post the week prior to Valentine’s Day. As that day is recognized as the most romantic day of the year, it is fitting I share this story. It is the story of Mike. It is the story of sweet romance. 


Mike is my fiancée and if you read last week’s post you will understand why this man is so special to me. He is God’s answer to my prayer.


Yep, I’m getting married. When Tom died, I couldn’t imagine marrying anyone else. I’ve been a widow for over eight years. Mike’s wife died over thirty-six years ago. 


Many of us say things like “timing is everything” or “all in good time” but we live desirous of the “here and now.”


Sometimes the “here and now” takes place over a long period of time. 

Here’s the scoop:


I have known Mike for over fifty years. We went to school together and were in the same graduating class. Mike and Tom were good friends growing up. They lived in the same neighborhood and rode the same school bus. They both had horses and were part of the Bit and Bridle Club. Mike and I had many other mutual friends. We water skied at Tom’s house on weekends. As a teen I went to at least one to party at Mike’s house. Yet, in truth, we were mere acquaintances.


When our high school reunion came around last year, I decided to offer a post reunion potluck picnic at the Lake House in Florida. I made the offer on Facebook. There was quite a bit of interest.


Mike knew I lived in Ohio. Having hosted a number of events for boat shows and the like, he knew what an undertaking it could be to throw such a party. He wanted to offer his help without being too forward. In fact he wrote one Facebook message but deleted it entirely before deciding to make this offer:


Did I need help? I answered him honestly. I told him I would assess what I had when I got to the Lake House and let him know then. He sent me his phone number.


I called the day before the reunion. I had one cooler, the table situation was fair. I wasn’t sure the grill worked but I had plenty of chairs. 

We talked about the upcoming evening event, noting the Carrollwood Country Club was not in the Carrollwood neighborhood we knew as kids. 


I was at Target looking for another tablecloth and some nail polish when he called. He had made a dry run to the venue and started telling me how to get there. It sounded complicated. Somewhere in the midst of his directions, Mike offered to let me ride with him. I was in the checkout line when he finished sharing. 


“Uh, Mike, was that a bona fide offer to ride with you?”



The next morning, Mike and his son brought everything over and before long, the backyard looked ready for a party.


That evening he called for me at 5:30 on the dot. He came to the front door. My mom insisted on taking a picture of us by the lake. I was embarrassed. After all, this wasn’t a prom date or anything. He opened the door for me to his truck and we headed to the reunion. 


With comfortable conversation, good food,  dancing, and lots of laughter, we have since deemed that evening as our first date. 

Maybe my mom was onto something.


The class reunion was a success. So was the picnic. At one point I looked over at Mike grilling hamburgers and making conversation. We were a team. It wasn’t “my picnic.” We were in this together. 

Long distance dating isn't as bad as I thought. We talk on the phone multiple times a day and message quite a bit. The 936 miles between us hasn't kept us apart. His visits here have given him the opportunity to meet my family and friends. My last visit to the Lake House was for a few days after the New Year. I had already planned to spend the month of February in Florida before Mike and I became a couple.

It turns out...All in Good Time isn't what we need to say at all. It's All in God's Time. And for that I am grateful.