Letter 2: My Parents Met At A Stoplight . . . Really

Dear Elizabeth,
            My parents met at a stoplight.  Really, they did.  I have always loved their story.  It sounds like its right out of a novel, or a great movie.
            Apparently, there is a Market Street in San Francisco, California, where if you get stopped at one red light, you get stopped by them all.  At least that’s what my Mom says.  And that’s what happened on that sunny day in 1969.
            My mom was in a car full of college girls.  My dad was in a car with another Navy seaman.  They stopped side by side at the first red light, and looked across at one another.  At the second red light, they smiled.  At the third, my mom laughed, for lack of anything better to do.
            Somehow the guys found out that the girls were lost, and offered to show them the way to where they wanted to go.  The place they were looking for was less than two miles away, but my dad and his friend led the girls on a wild goose chase for an hour and a half, stopping at landmarks and driving over medians, etc. along the way.
            At one stop, my mom and her friends started a favorite game of theirs.  One of them started making up details about themselves, and the others would have to continue the make-believe story without flubbing it up.  This time, they told the guys they were exchange students from Europe and had come to America to meet new people, or something like that.  My dad believed every word.
            My mom tells me she was surprised and impressed, and she remembers thinking, “This is the most honest guy I’ve ever met.  I think I’ll marry him.”
            They parted ways eventually, but wrote letters.  In time, the girls needed to come up with an excuse for why they were still in America.  They told the guys they couldn’t go home to Europe yet because they’d gotten a case of the German measles!
            Eventually the truth came out, as it always does.  Also, eventually, the letter-writers narrowed down to just my mom and my dad.
            Life Lesson:  You never know when something as random and insignificant as a red light may change your life forever.  Always be where the Lord wants you to be, and you never have to worry if you’re in the right place when the right time comes along.
            When my dad was transferred to a military base near where mom was living, he asked her out on a date.  They went out several weekends in a row.  Later my mom found out he was working all week, and spending his entire week’s paycheck on their weekend dates together.  Guess he was smitten.
            After four weeks of dating (yes, four weeks), my dad proposed.  Mom said yes.  They went to look at rings together, and the man in the shop saw my dad and said, “Oh, you’re back.  Do you want to see the rings you looked at three weeks ago?”
            My favorite part of the story happened when they left the store that day.  My mom was in her overalls and pigtails and must have looked very young, because a little old lady came up and hit my dad and said, “You take that little girl home, you pervert!”
            They married in a tiny chapel with no family members present—it was too expensive for anyone to come that far.  Then they started their lives together, quite poor, eating peanut butter sandwiches or peanut butter on pancakes.
            Eleven days after the wedding, my dad was called up to go to Vietnam.
Life Lesson:  What matters most to you, Elizabeth?  Your priorities will determine your choices in life.  My mom said she married my dad despite the war and the separation ahead because she would rather be a widow if something happened to him than just a girlfriend.  Wow.  When you make the big choices in life, be sure you understand why you are making them.  Don’t let life choose for you.
            My mom had to say goodbye to her new husband and return to North Carolina to live with her parents again.  When she arrived, she found out that dad’s departure was delayed and he wasn’t going to be deployed for another two weeks.  But they didn’t have the money for her to travel back to California, so they remained separated until his ship sailed.
            My dad was gone for 11 months.  I can’t imagine—no e-mail, not even regular snail mail.  He would write often, but couldn’t mail the letters until the ship landed in port somewhere, then he would mail the whole batch at one time.  She would get piles of letters every few months. 
            When dad came home, he met his new baby girl for the first time—my big sister.  She smiled her first smile at her daddy.  And she pooped on him the first time he tried to change her diaper. 
            I can’t imagine going through what they went through.  But then again, a lot of people can’t imagine going through what I’ve gone through.  Guess your own life is your own life and nobody else’s.   
           Gee, that sounds profound.


  1. Love it! Thanks!

    Rachel (Rosenau) Norton

  2. Yea, I figured I'd better get that one down now because years down the road nobody'll believe it's actually true and start thinking I'm off my rocker already! =) It still makes me laugh when I think of some little old lady whacking Daddy with a newspaper!

  3. What a beautiful story!

    Jennifer Dougan


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