By Joan Clayton: PNT columnist
The first time I saw him, fireworks ignited and a “pop-pop-pop” went off in my heart. It wasn’t even the Fourth of July then, but rockets exploded anyway. This high school girl had never seen a more tall, dark and handsome man.
The English teacher’s assignment required a theme paper on “lumberjacks.” I didn’t know anything about lumberjacks, but when I saw all the kids surrounding Emmitt in the library, I pushed my way through the crowd. Of course, he had a distinct advantage over all of us. His artistic talent left little room for competition. His sketched copy of a lumberjack could have been on a magazine cover.
“Will you draw one for me?” “And me?” “And me?” Everyone around him asked the same question.
“Sure,” he answered.
Not only was he handsome, but talented, too. I’ve got it made, I thought.
“Will you draw one for me?” I asked, batting my baby blues.
“No!” he said.
What a put-down, and so much for my feminine charm. The fireworks dimmed that year, but from a distance I became a secret admirer.
Imagine my excitement the next spring when he asked me to be his date for the junior/senior banquet. I had to pinch myself. Is this real, or am I dreaming?
The basketball team went to state that year, and no matter where Emmitt was on the court, this “All State Center” could spot me in the crowd.
The girls around me squealed with delight as they said, “Did you see No.11 wink at me?” I didn’t say a word. He had eyes for me, and the fireworks kept going off.
The greatest fireworks of all happened on our wedding day. I finally caught my “knight in shining armor.” As I walked down that aisle, I thanked God for giving me the desires of my heart. (“Be delighted with the Lord. Then he will give you all your heart’s desires” Psalm 37:4 TLB.)
Through the years I have learned the real reason that attracted me to the man of my dreams. His loving heart had won mine early on. A loving heart makes everyone beautiful. A loving heart goes beyond age, race or status. Love in the heart brings out the best in everyone. (“When you love someone, you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him and always stand your ground in defending him” 1 Corinthians 13:7 TLB).
I cannot remember not being in love with him. Even after all these years, it is still fireworks and the Fourth of July for me. Yes, he is older and grayer, but to me, he is the same tall, dark and handsome hero of my high school days.
I thought it impossible to love him more. I was wrong. He met a man called Jesus, and it made me love him in a way I cannot explain. Because of Jesus, he has become even more patient, compassionate and loving. I see Jesus in him when he holds me in his arms and prays for me. I see Jesus when he prays for our children and grandchildren. He is my protector, supporter, defender and cherisher, and the love of my life.
He is God’s gift to me every day and especially on July 4 because then I get to see two kinds of fireworks.
By the way, I woke up in the middle of the night a while back and asked him why he wouldn’t draw a lumberjack for me in high school.
He said, “A guy has to play hard to get sometimes!”
Then he turned over in bed and started snoring.
Portales resident Joan Clayton is a retired teacher and published author. Her e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org