It was the year 1994, and my parents' lives were at once heading in very different directions.
My mom, Jamee Weniger, had recently graduated from the University of Kansas and entered a new chapter of graduate school to receive a master's in education. And my dad, Cory Smith, was working as a manager for a fancy country club, driving Michael Jordan's car, and trying to comply with the demands of the elderly Jews.
Their love story is a pretty crazy one if you ask me, but it all circles back to a good lesson on good timing and "meant to be."
My parents were set-up by a connecting thread named Malcolm. Malcolm was both my dad's uncle as well as my Papa's (on my mom's side) goofy childhood best friend. He had watched both of my parents grow up, both figuratively and literally, and thought it was crazy they had not yet met. So after lots of badgering from Malcolm, my dad finally gave my mom a call.
It was pretty simple at first. They had a brief conversation and made plans to go out for dinner one night. All seemed perfect until it wasn't. The night that my parents were supposed to go on their first date, my dad called my mom and explained he wasn't feeling well and was going to have to cancel and reschedule.
My mom nowadays likes to joke that he decided he didn't want to go out with her so he faked sick, but my dad promises it was real. They didn't speak for two years after that.
Flash forward to the year 1996, and my parents were starting to enter the true test of adulthood. Jamee had just finished grad school and was struggling to find a teaching job. Cory was still working at the country club but began to wonder if it was time to move on. Just when things didn't seem to be looking up, Malcolm approached my father once again. He told him it was time to quit messing around and give Jamee another call. They were both older and more ready for something long-term.
So he did. And this time, things worked out a lot better. They agreed on a date for dinner again, but don't worry, this time it actually happened.
My dad pulled up to my mom's house, rang the doorbell, and what do you know? It was my Papa! For those of you who know my Papa, he is seriously one of the most hardworking, caring, and loving people I know, but he also can be a pretty tough critic. I'm sure Cory was quite intimidated to open the door to see my grandpa's look on his face. But, worries aside, he quickly passed the test and was welcomed into the Weniger family with open arms.
The date truly couldn't have gone any better. First of all, my dad impressed my mom by taking her to Bob Chinn's, which for those of you who know anything about my dad, that is probably the last place he would ever actually eat. Nonetheless, I'm sure this was something she appreciated. But what made the night truly magical was the car ride home, which my parents spent blasting and jamming along to songs from "Grease."
Their poor rendition of "Summer Lovin'" was when both of my parents claim they knew they were going to spend the rest of their lives together. Gets me every single time.
The night ended with a heartfelt kiss goodbye, but they were certain this wasn't goodbye. It was not long after that my parents spent every waking moment together, and even took a trip to Florida to visit my mom's grandparents not even a few months after they started dating.
The point of this story is not just to share a dream love story between two people who I love and adore so much, though that might be part of it. When my parents sit down every January 26th (the anniversary of their first day together) to tell us the romantic story of how they met, I'm amazed every time.
The fact that, after two years of being on completely diverging paths, they were able to find their way back to one another is insane to me.
I always wonder what would've happened if my parents did go on that date the first time. Would things have worked out? Would they have gotten married earlier? Would I even be here today? There is no clear answer and that's the craziest part.
Timing is everything.
My mom is an avid over-thinker (wow, I wonder who I get it from), and I'm sure spent days after my dad called to cancel internalizing, thinking something was utterly wrong with her and that she'd never find the one. Though I've never confirmed this with her, I am almost certain it went something like that. However, it was her patience and hope that allowed her to wait until the perfect love story did come around.
I have always been a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. I personally think there was a reason things didn't work out with my parents the first time but they did so well the second. Perhaps neither of them were ready to settle down at the time of their initial date, but the time spent on self-improvement and maturity in that two year period was enough to do the trick.
This lesson is something I apply to my own life when navigating my own struggles through relationships, school, friends, health, extracurriculars, self-care, you name it. Dealing with things like rejection and disappointment is very difficult for me and I often wonder why all the hard work I put into so many different things rarely pays off.
But it is a love story like the one between my mom and dad that reminds me that I'm not alone and that my story is just beginning.
Life isn't always what you imagine it to be, but the delay of gratification is usually the best part. The universe likely has a bigger and better plan for me, so I guess I better just hold on tight and enjoy the ride until I get there. Thank you to my mom and dad for not only showing me the ultimate love story but for the constant reminder that my time is coming.
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