Friday, September 30, 2016


Some days pass without anything noteworthy happening at all. The day begins. The day ends. And when you look back, you find it hard to remember anything that occurred.

But, some days are important. Some days significant things happen. Some days can change your life forever.

Ten years ago today, September 30, 2006, was one of those significant days for me. I asked someone to marry me. She said, "Yes." And nothing has been the same since.

You know, for someone known as "Slow Joe," it all happened pretty quickly. We met in May. We went on our first date in July. (Fairly late in July, in fact.) And now here it was, the last day of September, and I was ready to ask her to marry me. It was exactly ten weeks from our first date to the day we got engaged. That's crazy!!! I've had milk in my fridge longer than ten weeks! But, unlike the milk, our love doesn't have an expiration date. (Did I really just say that? Dang, thinking about this is getting me all shappy* again!) [*NOTE: "shappy" = sappy+happy.]

Truth be told, the speed with which I asked her to marry me was directly influenced by how slow I had been throughout my life. I was already 40 years old. Once I found the woman I wanted to marry, I didn't want to waste any more time!

I was lucky in many ways. (Some might even say the luckiest.) I didn't have to worry about shopping for an engagement ring. Amber had mentioned that there was a family heirloom ring that she wanted for an engagement ring, you know, if someone were to ask to marry her. So, all I had to do to secure an engagement ring was call Terri (my friend and Amber's neighbor, and the woman who set us up in the first place) to go next door and get the ring for me.

When the time came to put my plan into action, I quickly and quietly stopped at Terri's house to get the ring, then went next door to pick up Amber. My plan consisted of revisiting our second date, on which we went on an all day hike on Mount Timpanogas. (See: The Date That Lasted 16 Hours.)

I wasn't interested in that long of a hike on this day. We parked at the Aspen Grove trailhead, just up the mountain from the Sundance ski resort. The idea was to hike up to the first waterfall. It was a little farther than I remembered, and it took us about a half an hour to get to the waterfall. It was beautiful. Unfortunately, it was also crowded.

The waterfall.

When we arrived at the waterfall, there was already another couple there, plus a large family with several children. I stalled for a bit, hoping that some of the other visitors to the waterfall would leave. The couple did leave, and I thought the family was going to go as well. But, then they broke out their sandwiches; they were going to stay right there for a picnic lunch. I was not going to get to propose at the waterfall without onlookers eating peanut butter and jelly.

So, I took Amber downstream from the waterfall a few feet. There was a small rapid amongst the rocks. I decided this was the place I would ask Amber to marry me. I started to reach into my pocket for the ring when a small face appeared over the rocks above us, eating peanut butter and jelly and staring at us. Then another head popped up to stare. And another. And another. (The family at the waterfall had four kids. Or maybe five kids. Or maybe seven kids. Or possibly 12 kids. This is Utah, after all.)

So, I sat with Amber and waited. I didn't want an audience. Eventually, the sandwich-eaters lost interest, and we had a moment alone. That's all I needed; that's all I wanted. I reached into my pocket and took out the ring. (And, truth be told, from the instant I got the ring out the sandwich kids may have reappeared, but I wouldn't have noticed. From that moment on, my mind was in another place.)

I got down on one knee and asked Amber to marry me. She acted surprised. (She wasn't totally surprised; she had an inkling.) She acted happy. (It wasn't an act. She was happy.) She said yes!!! (And I was happy!)

The little rapid where I proposed.
We sat there by our little rapid and enjoyed the moment. We probably even kissed a little. I couldn't tell you if the sandwich family was still there when we left or not. It didn't matter. I was floating in another realm! We skipped back to the car and drove back to civilization to tell everyone our good news.

In the ten years since, I've had a lot of good, memorable days, most notably my wedding day and the births of our four children. But it all started that day ten years ago with a ring, a waterfall, and a woman that I love! (I get all shappy just thinking about it!)

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