Mike and I met during the swing dancing craze in the 90s. I was a Junior in college and he was a carpenter who taught swing dancing classes as a beginning instructor. Mike is big and strong and he was the aerial guy, the guy who put his partner in flips and spins. I have many memories of swinging around his chest and launching into the air - but that’s jumping ahead (so to speak). I went to the swing dance group gatherings in South Bend with friends, including my sister, Margaret.
One night, Margaret said she was going to a New Year’s Eve party at Mike’s house and she invited me to come. I wasn’t sure. I had work to do and didn’t feel like getting dressed up. I threw on a pair of jeans and a pale blue tee shirt. I slapped on some silver lip gloss. That was as fancy as I was going to get. She practically dragged me there.
It was the strangest thing. I walked into Mike’s apartment and, as he was showing us around, I was hit with a strong feeling. I knew someday I would be living there. Honestly, it freaked me out a little bit. Later, we were all getting ready to leave and Mike asked for everyone’s keys. He put on his boots and went outside. It was a very cold night with drifts of snow covering everything. Quietly and efficiently, he warmed all of our cars and cleared them of the snow. I remember saying to him, “Mike, you are a good person.” This was dorky, of course, but I meant it. I liked him.
That same week, our group decided to go to Chicago to the Field Museum. Within minutes of buying our tickets, Mike and I separated from the group and walked together through the museum. We couldn’t stop talking. It was like we had always known each other and were catching up after a long separation. I still didn’t know if he liked me in THAT way, though.
Later in the week, we had another swing dance gathering. I was still not sure if he was interested and that Friday evening I became convinced I was the only one with a crush. He asked every other girl to dance as I watched from a distance. My mom must have been able to tell I was upset. At one point she whispered, “He does like you.” I said, “Obviously, he doesn’t,” pointing to him swinging around with someone else. She said, “He has been staring at you all night.” My brain went, whaaaaaaaaaat?
Finally, it was the last dance of the night. This is it, I thought (the crush was making me a little dramatic). Sure enough, he walked over to me and asked me to dance. I’ll never forget that dance. Everything else disappeared. It sounds like a story, but that’s how it felt. We made plans to go to dinner.
We dated for over a year before Mike proposed marriage. I was finishing up school and he drove after work to meet me on campus. Sometimes we read stories to each other, sometimes we went out for food. It was never boring. We talked a lot.
This is what I wanted in a husband. I knew this before I met Mike. I wanted a man who was kind and who would be a good father. I wanted an honest, hardworking partner who would see me as an equal. I wanted someone who showed compassion for other people and lived by a moral code. Now that I have been married to Mike for nineteen years, I can say this with confidence. I found all of these qualities in him and more. He has the warmest heart and would give the shirt off his back to anyone in need. He cherishes the children in our lives and they love and trust him. They call him Unc. I know I can count on him too.
What I couldn’t have imagined that night when I was longing for him to ask me to dance, was that this man would be my best friend and would stand by my side during some very challenging times as well as many good ones. He is loving and protective and he works hard to give me a good life. He makes me feel like I can do or be anything. I can’t wait to see him become someone’s father.