Fish, part 3

The third decade of my life was without a doubt the most unpredictable, the most wondrous, insanely gratifying period of my life. It began my senior year at Roberts Wesleyan College.  The cast of characters in my life remained essentially the same except for the appearance of – her.

I was determined to play out my senior year in college like a grand finale at the end of fireworks display. Out of the starting gate I ran on the RWC varsity cross-country team.  We were an unusually close-knit team and often participated in group social activities.  Wouldn’t you know it, she happened to be there.

I continued to immerse myself in campus life, escorting the homecoming queen and serving as
one of the lead characters in the all college play.  As busy as I was during that time, I always seemed to be running into her.

At some point that fall I started taking an interest in her.  She took her sweet time acknowledging my interest.  Finally, she agreed to go out on a date with me if I was able to run a personal best time in our last home cross-country meet (a sub 30-minute race for a distance of 5 miles for you running enthusiasts out there).  For me, the race itself was a journey to hell and back but more important than our team winning the meet was my prize, a date with her.

IMG_0409…Maybe it was the anticipation of having to wait a month to go out with her but after that first date magic was in the air. There was no question I was like a deer caught in the headlights, enchanted by the inner and outer beauty of this woman.            

Patty and I corresponded over the weeks separating first and second
semester. Our letters deepened our mutual affection, and each of us hinted of a future together. A flame was now lit within my heart and it danced wildly like a flame on the bare wick of a candle fighting to stay ablaze as it burns itself down to the renewing and sustaining body of the candle wax below.

Bill Roushey, from the book Junior’s Hope

I became engaged to Patty in the spring of the following year at my parent’s home. Immediately she was welcomed into the family. Patty called home to notify her parents. If memory serves it was around midnight when she placed the call.

“Mom, I’m getting married,” she told her parents.

“To who?” Her mother asked, not expecting news of this sort at this hour of the night.

“Bill Roushey asked me to marry him and I said yes!”

“When are we going to meet this boy?” Her dad inquired, wondering what in the world was happening.

“We’re coming home on spring break.”

The thought of inheriting another set of parents was something I hadn’t put a lot of thought into until that moment.  I had just about finished separating myself from my own parents and now I was inheriting another set. Never in my life had I been this nervous about something, but then again never had I been more in love either.

Sweat pooled under my armpits as I sat in an empty living room waiting for her father to come out and meet me. The sound of water running in the bathroom shower indicated it wouldn’t be anytime soon. Patty and her mom were off in another room having a mother/daughter reunion of sorts.  When her father finally came out and laid eyes on me for the first time, our conversation went something like this.

“Hello, Mr. Pickering.” I said warmly trying to hide my nervousness.

“You must be Bill,” he responded trying to assess the character of the man about to steal away his daughter.

“Sir, I’d like to marry your daughter.”

“Do you have a job? How do you plan on supporting her?”

“Yes. I have a full-time job lined up after graduation.”

“We want our daughter to graduate from college,” He said. “Are you planning to let her continue on with her schooling?”

“Yes sir, that’s important to both of us.”

IMG_0377“Well then, okay,” he said, “we’d like to pay for her tuition.”

I realized at that moment what kind and generous parents she had.

Several years later Patty and I had the means to build our own home.  It was during that time we entered into what I call the Noah’s ark phase of our lives, acquiring fresh and salt-water aquariums, birds, cats and a dog.

The Lord soon blessed us with two boys, which we taught to fish among other things. They experienced the thrill first hand of having unseen objects tug on their fishing line as they dangled a worm on a hook into the watery abyss.  Eyes went wide when they reeled in their prize. One son wanted to catch “chomper fish” after seeing his daddy bring home a northern pike.IMG_0368

In the previous decade of my life I used the example of fresh-water fish viewed through an aquarium to portray the beauty of relationships. The example just doesn’t seem adequate now that I’ve experienced a slice of heaven here on earth. More fitting of this decade is the unfathomable splendor of gazing into a salt-water aquarium, which Patty and I have had the pleasure of setting up together. The personal cost to acquire and retain such beauty is far greater, the care more delicate and tedious, the hardships more severe but the final result is breathtaking. To this I would add, the result of just being with her is priceless.
My spiritual journey this decade was one of continuance. The God of my grandfather became the God of my father. Later, IMG_0364
I began serving the same God, and together with my wife we introduced Him to our children. The closer I walk with God the greater my appreciation of His continuance, an eternal God whose love has no limit or end. (Psalm 36:5-7)

For all practical purposes this is a storybook ending, but as it turns out this is not the end.

To be continued…

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