Yesterday was Valentine’s Day, a favourite day of the year for Hallmark and Laura Secord. I am a shameless and devoted fan of love stories. That is why I can easily spend a rainy weekend in my cozy jammies, on the couch with a big ol’ bag of barbecue chips, two litres of Diet Coke and a family-size box of tissues watching Sleepless in Seattle, Pretty Woman, Father of the Bride and Overboard to name a few.
I can watch the same movie twenty times; that is how much I enjoy love stories with happy endings. At the mature age of 61, I still swoon for Kurt Russell, Richard Gere, Clint Eastwood, George Clooney and my all-time hottie, Liam Neeson.
Real life love stories truly fascinate me. How did you meet your partner?
My husband, Glenn, and I met each other in an unusual way, which I consider the stuff of fairy tales.
Lockeport, 1976. I had completed my first year at the Nova Scotia Teachers’ College and had come home for the summer to work at Laings’ General Store — now the Town Market. That same summer, a young man from Havelock, Ontario with Lockeport connections invited Glenn to visit relatives in Nova Scotia.
Lockeport, Nova Scotia is famous for its beautiful, mile-long, crescent-shaped beach. After supper one evening, I decided to walk the beach for a less than romantic reason. I had pigged out at supper time and thought a walk along the water’s edge at low tide might provide some relief.
Near the sand dunes, much further up from the water’s edge, sat three young men who seemed to be goofing around with a Frisbee. The youngest one, a boy named Stephen, recognized me and ran down the beach yelling, “Melda, see those two boys up there? They want to meet you.” I was unaware that before running down the beach he had said to them, “Hey, see that girl down there? She wants to meet you.” Yep, I was the victim of a planned intervention.
Reluctantly, I went along with him and he introduced me to the two young men, Glenn and Ken. Believe me, it was anything but a “Kodak Moment.” They had a lot of strikes against them. It appeared they hadn’t seen the inside of a shower, shaved or used a stick of deodorant since leaving Havelock. Even worse,the one named Glenn was missing his four front teeth. Alarm bells were blaring in my head, “RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!”
I was shy and quiet and tried to make polite small talk, definitely not my forte at that point. Awkwardly, I asked what college or university they attended. The one named Glenn puffed out his bony, hairless chest and said, “Actually, I’m a member of the workforce in Ontario.” When I heard “Ontario”, the blood drained from my face and I went into fight or flight mode. I had been raised to believe that everyone from Ontario was a giant snob. The conversation ended abruptly and I resumed my walk.
Later that evening, Ken’s parents “happened” to visit Mom and Dad. Interestingly, they did not come alone. Can you guess who was with them? Their son, Ken? Nope, they had Glenn in tow. I was up in my room when I heard several unfamiliar voices downstairs. Nosy me, I tiptoed to the top of the stairs to sneak a peak and to eavesdrop.
Mom and Dad were busy catching up with the adults and the young man was sitting in silence. I struck up a polite conversation with the stranger. A transformation of such epic proportions had taken place, that I did not recognize him as the hippie named Glenn at the beach mere hours ago. This person sitting before me was clean shaven and had teeth, and there was something familiar about his voice.
As we chatted away, I remembered. Bingo! I gathered up enough courage to ask if he was one of the boys at the beach. I confess he was much more appealing than he was on the beach. The evening ended with a lunch, or as we say, a mug up, and I never expected to see any of them again.
On Thursday of that week I took Mom grocery shopping in Shelburne. I had not planned to shop with Mom, but as Mom entered IGA, I spotted Glenn in the store. Whipping the truck into a parking spot right in front of the store, I sauntered in as if I had no idea that Glenn was there. It didn’t take long to find him.
Oh, no, he was talking to Mom. The moment Mom spotted me, she pointed and announced in her air raid siren voice, “There she is!” I don’t remember what I said, but it was something corny like, “Fancy that, running into you in IGA?” Glenn and I stuck up a conversation while Mom shopped.
Later that evening, Glenn wanted to ask me out to a restaurant, but one BIG hurdle stood in his way — he could not remember my name. He knew that it sounded something like Hilda, but began with an M which would make it Milda. Eventually he arrived at Melda. He practiced diligently repeating “Hilda, Milda, Melda” over and over until he felt confident enough to call me.
I told him that I always wash my hair on Thursday nights, but I would give it some thought and call him back. That is a big, fat whopper of a lie. Before he could even finish the question I blurted out, “Yes.” After a romantic cheeseburger platter, we drove along the Sandy Point shoreline, stopping at the beautiful Sandy Point Lighthouse at sunset.
We seemed to have an endless list of things to talk about. He called the next night, the next night…you get the picture. Strangely, in just three days, my ugly, snooty frog from Ontario had turned into a handsome prince.
Exactly three years to the day, on July 21, 1979, we were married at the Lockeport Pentecostal Church. We are closing in on 40 years of marriage. Two beautiful children, their spouses and our grandchildren, Isaac, Greta and Maddie are our reward.
The story still boggles my mind. It’s a perfect example of life being stranger than fiction.
PS: My single friends have logged miles pounding up and down that beach, but as far as I know, no one else has found their handsome prince lurking among the sand dunes. It must have been a once-in- a- lifetime occurrence…like Halley’s Comet.