This is the story of how my husband Chuck and I met and fell in love. If you have missed any posts, be sure and check out my Love on a Mission Page.
The plane began its decent and the stewardess collected my coffee…I feel the plane shudder as the landing gear came down. I could see the lights illuminating the city below.
It was game time.
Stepping off the plane and into the airport, I barely had time to scan the crowd before Chuck rushed up, and wrapped his strong arms around me. Then he stepped back, looked down at me for just a moment, and kissed me.
Instead of flying to Vancouver, I had flown into a city in Washington I had never heard of before, Bellingham. Neither of us had any idea that this would be our future home. That I would birth six babies in this city. That we would build our dreams and face trials we couldn’t yet imagine.
It was dark as we drove to Chuck’s home in British Columbia. The rain was falling lightly and we held hands as he drove. I stroked Chuck’s hand, admiring its strength, the calloused palm born of hard work outdoors. There would be no work this week though. Chuck had the taken time off so we could spend as every moment together. His parents (who I had yet to meet) were hosting a huge engagement party for us. We were going to squeeze in months of premarital counseling (common in our church) into two days and we were going to have our pictures taken professionally. In between that I was going to meet his three siblings and two nieces.
And, of course, we had months of kissing to catch up on.
Chuck’s parents lived on 8 acres and had ducks, chickens, peacocks, dogs, cats, a cow. I had the best night’s sleep I’d had in months at Chuck’s parents’ house. Buttery softy, flannel sheets under a heavy down comforter. I slept peacefully until I was awakened by the sound of roosters crowing. Chuck was eager to make me poached eggs out of fresh-from-the-chicken-eggs. He served these with fresh baked (and mold-free) baking powder biscuits. I marveled at the green grass without a patch of snow to be seen.
While still in Alaska I suggested we our pictures taken together. Engagement photos sounded so cool; so adult. I envisioned us driving to Sears or JCPenney (or whatever the Canadian equivalent was) and posing in front of a gray, wrinkled sheet…maybe even embellished with a few paint spatters. We would pay $19.99 and come away with six zillion prints in every size imaginable.
Chuck apparently had different visions because he hired a custom wedding and portrait photographer. We met the photographer at a park in Vancouver, a soft mist falling around us. The most memorable photo for me is the one where I balanced precariously on a slime covered rock in a creek, in March, to get the perfect shot. While I shivered in the cool, damp air. In the end, the photos were totally worth it, as photos always are.
And then there was Chuck’s truck.
Chuck owned a 3/4 ton 4-Wheel Chevy pick-up truck. He had customized it with Super Swamper TSX tires, a Detroit Locker and True Track with a 400 stroker. And if you know what that means, you can be Chuck’s new BFF. All I knew was it was difficult to climb into since the top of the truck bed was nearly the same height as me.
The engagement party was a whirlwind night with every person Chuck had ever met (and probably a few he hadn’t) showing up to congratulate us. This was also my introduction to my mother-in-law’s mad cooking skills. This amazing woman thought nothing of cooking a dozen pies, half a dozen cakes, and a hundred cookies to go along with the three course meal she had cooked. I’m not exaggerating. Chuck was excited to have me taste his mom’s poppy seed chiffon cake, shortbread cookies (aged for a full six weeks) and pie. In addition I tried numerous other foods I had never even heard of: cabbage and noodles, pierogi, cabbage rolls, and Hungarian nokedli.
One woman at the party had a fat, beautiful rolly-polly baby who she proudly held up saying, “Nine months old and completely breastfed”. Chuck and I looked at each other and grinned. That’s how our babies would be.
The week flew by. I didn’t think I could leave Chuck. We had two whole months until our wedding…I had another quarter of university to complete. But oh, how would we part again? We had only been together twice outside of Teen Missions…It added up to a mere thirteen days. We still had so much to say, so much smooching to do…so many memories to make.
But the day came that I had to board the plane home. The next time I flew I would be Mrs. Chuck Bergeron.
We kissed way too much in the airport, not doubt disgusting everyone around us. We didn’t care.
On the plane I stared out the window. I had a book with me but couldn’t read. I sipped my coffee listlessly and nibbled in the brownies Chuck’s mom had sent with me. Suddenly the loud speaker came on and the flight attended announced, “I have a message for passenger Renee”…
If you have missed any posts in this series, take a moment to check out my Love on a Mission page and get caught up!