Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Easy to Love -

Shortly after Scott and I were married, I wrote this simple story, and then had a young man illustrate it, as a gift to Scott and me. It's written and illustrated so that our kids, our grandchildren, can read and understand our story. I would say that our lives are no longer this simple, but our story our love our commitment to each other is. A little lengthy - but . . .

Happy 9th Anniversary to Scott and me! 

For Keeps
A long time ago – two years and two months ago – a very determined man fell in love with a very determined woman.

They both had experienced their share of life’s ups and downs: rejection, acceptance, failures, successes, good days and bad days. They both dreamed about being loved and accepted – with no strings attached - but like any good fantasy, this was only available as a dream.

The woman: reared two beautiful children and one bothersome spouse. But life was, for the most part, good. The woman lived in misery and self-loathing for a few years but decided this wasn’t living, only existing, and vowed to live her life, regardless of the cultural fences around her. She spent her good days learning – both formally and informally. She spent her bad days getting up in the morning, putting one foot in front of the other, and refusing to let the evil, anger, sorrow get her down.

The man: reared four beautiful children, alone. He lived in darkness for many years with the anger consuming him, and then, in part, becoming that anger. However, like the woman, he came to the point that existing in the darkness was not living, and he vowed to repair his life and prepare for the goodness life had to offer him. He became a fine example, to those around him, of a man who could face his weaknesses and turn them into strengths.

Oddly, these two people happened into each other upon occasion, but mostly during the unhealthy years. They were both intrigued with each other, curiosity rather than desire, and with their lifestyle differences, only saw each other from afar, and moved on by.

The man had one unfulfilled goal – to find a woman who was like his mother: intelligent, sassy, confident, and not afraid to stick up for herself. The woman had three unfulfilled goals – graduate from college with a Master’s Degree, fall in love with a community, and get out of her marriage.

Surprisingly, the man’s goal came to fruition at the same time as the woman was accomplishing her last goal – each totally unbeknownst to the other.

During one autumn, the woman ended her marriage, sold her home, gathered her two children into her arms, and moved home – home to her parents.

Two years previously the man had given his last child in marriage, put his belongings in storage, and moved home – home to take care of his aging parents.

As the woman was just beginning her life (as a single woman, that is), she, no longer carrying her marriage baggage, the man was praying for God to bring someone into his life, so he could end his fifteen year sabbatical as a single man.

One blustery, snowy, late autumn morning, their paths crossed. The woman walked out of her front door, in her gym clothes, ready to drive to the gym. At that same moment, the man was getting out of his car and walking toward his front door. 

The woman thought: “Well, well, look who is back at his parent’s - might as well acknowledge him.”

The man thought: “Is she or isn’t she single?”

Their conversation went something like: “Hi, Scott. Looks like we’re both living at home, again. How are you?”

“Yup, fine.”

“Hey, you’ve been single for awhile. Tell me, how is the single scene here in the Valley?”


“Oh, great. Well, any suggestions for a single woman here?”

“Stay away from the LDS Singles' scene. It’s not good.”

“Oh, OK.”

“Hey, it’s snowing, come stand under the porch.”

And they stepped out of the snow and into the safety of the front porch.

“How old are you?”


“You’re young; I’m almost ten years older than you. But whatever, don’t go to the LDS Singles' dances. They are a meat market; lots of stuff happens there that isn’t healthy.”

“OK. Well, better get to the gym.”

“Hey, we should go to lunch sometime.”

What the woman said was:
“Well, thanks, but no thanks. I’m awfully busy; have a son getting married in two months and a daughter who needs my attention.”

What the woman was thinking was:
“He is old; I’m not interested, and I am leaving this valley as quickly as possible.”

Later, the woman found out the man’s mother had suggested he contact the woman and ask her on a date.  The man felt a little roasted, but not burnt.

The woman went about her life, as did the man. They saw each other, running in and out of their houses, but no occasion availed itself for conversation.

The son married; the wedding was over; Christmas was quickly upon the woman and her tiny family, and life was wonderful. Two days after the wedding, the woman and the man happened to walk out their front doors at the same time. Coincidence!

“Hi, Ronda,” he said.

The woman thought: “He knows my name?!”

“How was the wedding?” he asked.

The woman thought: “He knows there was a wedding?”

“Do you have time, now the wedding is over, for lunch sometime?” he continued.

The woman thought: “Oh, what the heck, I’m leaving soon, why not – free lunch and conversation!”

“Sure,” she said.

“How about after Christmas? I’ll give you a call and arrange for a time to go to lunch.”

“OK, sounds good. Thanks; bye.”

The woman thought: “Yeah; he won’t call. He’s just being nice.”

And yet, a day later the man called, inviting the woman, not to lunch, but to dinner. The woman gave the man her cell phone number – so her parents wouldn’t become concerned or curious about this man who was calling to arrange a date.

The woman was fearful; she had heard many stories about older, experienced, hardened men and their dating tactics. She ran to a friend for ammunition, and received congratulations instead.

“That’s awesome. Not many newly-divorced women in this valley get dating opportunities without joining a dating service, being part of a bar scene, or suffering through the humiliation of an LDS Singles’ Dance. Congratulations. Consider this a free meal, an adult conversation, and don’t worry. You know his family; you’ll be fine.”

Christmas Eve day the man called the woman, on the family phone, which was answered by the woman’s mother, and the man and woman talked. He said he would pick up the woman at 5pm on December 26, 2003. They would go to dinner and a movie.

“Wait, a movie?” the woman thought.  “That’s not wise on a first date. He’s going to pull some moves. What if I don’t like him? He’s old; what if we don’t have anything to talk about? Oh, wait, I’m a folklorist; I can always ask him questions about himself. Everyone likes to talk about themselves.”

“Sure,” she answered.

Christmas arrived, and that evening the man called to wish the woman a Merry Christmas and to tell her he was looking forward to the next evening. The woman wondered whether or not she should ask the man to meet her at the restaurant rather than picking her up at the house. The woman wondered whether or not to tell her parents that she was going on a date – a date with the man next door.

The woman told her parents and her daughter, the day of the date, that she had a date with Scott Weaver. The parents were surprised, not aware the two were even aware of each other. They stated that he was a nice man, but perhaps, because of the close-knit, and closely watched neighborhood, it would be best if they were to meet elsewhere to begin their date. Then they changed their minds and decided Scott could pick up Ronda at her parents’ home.

Scott arrived at the door at the exact appointed time. He had on a baby-blue sweater with a t-shirt showing at the neckline. He smelled wonderfully earthy. Ronda was dressed in black pants with a rusty-orange sweater and a white camisole showing at the neckline.

In the deep blue Mustang which Ronda had begun to notice, they drove to Mimi’s for dinner. Scott ordered a Cobb Salad; Ronda ordered an Asian Salad; they both ordered Diet Pepsi's. Over their drinks Scott informed Ronda that he was a recovering alcoholic, used to be a 4-pack a day smoker, a womanizer, had been excommunicated from the LDS Church, rebaptized, single for 15 years, and had reared his 4 children during their teenage years. All of this information was shared in one deep breath.

After an exhale and an inhale, Ronda pulled out the Alcoholic’s Anonymous card she had been carrying in her wallet for more than 20 years. The Serenity Prayer was on one-side and the 12 Steps on the other.

Scott was surprised and delighted.

Conversation ensued, and they began to see their 10 year gap closing and their life’s paralleling each other.

With dinner over, Ronda went to the restroom before leaving the restaurant. Walking toward the door, there stood Scott with her coat and purse slung over his arm. She smiled.

Thinking they were on their way to a movie, Scott surprised Ronda and drove her to Trafalga Miniature Golf Course, for a game of miniature golf. Ronda was surprised, and she became quite self-conscious. She was not terribly athletic, and her ineptness at this game would definitely become apparent.

Scott was very relaxed, friendly, and a little too accommodating. This made Ronda a little leery, and she remembered what her friends said about men wanting to prey on the newly-singled women in the valley. However, when he reached to brush her hair off her face, when he wrapped his hands around hers to show her how to hold the golf club, when he high-fived her for her hole-in-one, she couldn’t help but wonder if his gestures may be a part of who he was, not a game he played.

With the grueling game of golf over, they now proceeded to the Provo Towne Centre Theater to watch “Cheaper By The Dozen.” A stroll through the mall prior to the movie gave the couple another opportunity to do some small talking. Nothing about it was too memorable, but Ronda was enjoying a good conversation with a kind man, and Scott was happy to be with a woman for the evening, one who had no expectations but for a friendly evening. While the movie was entertaining to her, it was not nearly as entertaining as her watching Scott laugh and laugh, out loud and regularly, at the antics in the movie.

The movie ended, and a fresh blanket of snow had covered the ground while they had been in the theater. The Mustang was parked a ways away, and with the walks slippery, Ronda slipped her arm into Scott’s arm. He turned, smiled, and said, “I was hoping you would do that.”

Scott took Ronda home, opened the door for her, shook her hand, thanked her for a nice evening, suggested that perhaps they go out again, some time soon, and then walked across the street to his home. Both doors closed, and the evening ended.

Two days later Ronda got off the airplane and onto home territory – home as in Northwestern Alabama. She was there to spend time exploring her options – after all, she had a clean slate, no plans for the future, and no commitments to anyone other than her children. With that in mind, she was looking forward to seeing if there were employment opportunities in the area, checking on housing, and just seeing if The Shoals still felt like home. Everywhere she turned there were open doors and open arms. Ronda realized that in order to live the life she wanted, she would have to leave Utah, yet moving to The Shoals was still comfortable and known territory with an already built-in network of friends. Her date with Scott was enjoyable, but it also brought to her mind the knowledge that she really didn’t want to date Utah Mormon men; finding other men similar to Scott, in Utah, was most likely a dream - or a nightmare. However, her date with Scott had given her the confidence she needed – maybe she was attractive, pleasant, fun, bright, able to date and some day, have a relationship.

After a wonderful few days in Alabama, Ronda flew back to Utah, having the peace of mind knowing her time in Utah was winding down. The day after arriving home, Ronda noticed the movie, “Cold Mountain,” was playing. This was a book Ronda had thoroughly enjoyed reading and she wanted to go see the movie. She remembered that Scott had a passion for studying American history and so she decided to take a chance and give him a call, inviting him to attend the movie with her. No other motives... just two people who understood the Civil War era attending a movie.

Ronda called Scott’s telephone number only to get an answering message. She decided to leave a message inviting him to the movie.

A few minutes later, Scott called back, happy that Ronda had called, and happy to see the movie with her, the following evening. Scott volunteered to drive.

The following evening Scott picked Ronda up and they drove off to the movie. Scott was surprised Ronda had bought the tickets and made the evening’s arrangements. He said he had never had a woman do this, prior to that moment. Ronda thought that was odd.

As they left the neighborhood, they approached the first stoplight entering into town. As the stoplight turned red, Scott asked Ronda how her trip to Alabama was. Ronda shared with him her excitement about the prospects for teaching positions there and how she was now trying to decide whether to leave for Alabama toward the middle of January or wait until May. Scott turned to her, and with a tone of sadness stated, “I’m so sorry. I was looking forward to getting to know you.”

The light, chatty mood that had previously been in the car changed to one of dullness, and Ronda turned to Scott, placed her hand on his shoulder, and attempted to tell him that he would have a few weeks or months to enjoy her company, based on the happenings of the next few days.

However, as Ronda fumbled to find appropriate words, deep in her heart she knew she would not be leaving Utah County any time soon, and that Scott would be more than just someone to attend an American history movie with.

Scott took hold of Ronda’s hand, and did not let go of it the entire evening. After the movie they went to the Village Inn for hot chocolate, and they spent several hours discussing their past, their present, their future, their dreams, their disappointments, their lives. By the end of the evening they both knew a relationship was in the works.

This evening, their good-byes ended with a short hug. This was nice for Ronda, but she was just a little scared about what was looming ahead of her.

The following day, Sunday, January 4, 2004, Ronda attended her parents’ church. Sitting in the back with her parents, she turned to find Scott sitting behind her and to the left. Ronda had a déjà vu moment as she remembered all of the times she had attended her parents’ ward and noticed Scott, seated in the back, wearing cowboy boots, jeans, a sports jacket, smelling of cigarette smoke, head down. She shook to think the man she had been on two dates with was the same man who she had been rather intrigued with over the past fifteen years. She looked over at him once during the meeting and couldn’t help but think of the irony. Her prayers the previous night told her she must talk with Scott that day, and talk honestly about herself and him.

After the Church meeting was finished Ronda quietly motioned to Scott to meet her in the foyer. He did. Scott told her how nice she looked – she smiled. Ronda asked Scott to go on a drive with her, to talk, and she honestly expected him to say that there was nothing to talk about, and that he would call her during the week – a quick brush-off before Ronda could even think there was a hope of a relationship – only a kind man speaking kind words. Yet early that afternoon they drove up Provo Canyon.

Ronda told Scott she had wild oats to sow, that she didn’t want a man in her life right now, that she wanted independence and freedom. She suggested they not see each other any more because she didn’t want to use him as a convenience. Scott smiled, said he wasn’t running away, that he wasn’t scared by her words, that he was fascinated with her and her story. All this while Ronda was driving in a snowy white canyon. They pulled into the parking lot of a picnic area up the right fork of Provo Canyon. And they talked. They talked about what they wanted from a relationship and from each other.

Scott said he found Ronda physically attractive and that he had been a gentleman and had made the decision that he would not kiss her until she was ready. Ronda laughed – she had wondered why this obviously passionate man, who had been celibate for many years, did not have his hands and lips all over her. She decided to release this tension, and she asked him to kiss her. Here were two adults, parked on the Sabbath, up Provo Canyon, making out. Ronda said Scott’s kisses were like a welcome home. Comfortable, warm, passionate, tender, enveloping. Scott said good things come when one is least expecting them.

They left the park, drove to Heber City, where at the Walker’s Service Station they kissed, in public, for their first time. Ronda’s head was spinning; Scott was talking about what he found attractive in a woman, and they both knew their lives had changed.

Yet Ronda continued to pursue jobs out of state and refused to allow her deep-held dreams to be interfered with. A couple of times she attempted to scare Scott off, or was it to test his staying power? She told him she wasn’t a simple person – life is complicated – she had a relentless drive, and she needed some life experiences before committing to anyone. She worried about the intenseness of their relationship; things were moving so fast, and she was worried she would burn out, and so she ran – but this time instead of running away, she ran toward prayer. And her answers were the same as those she had been receiving for the past five months. “Be Still, Peace, Be Still.” Ronda knew she couldn’t run anymore, especially from the goodness that had been introduced into her life. Another answer was “Courage;” courage to follow her heart instead of her head.

A whirlwind courtship ensued, with this couple sharing their lives with each other, discussing families, dreams, fears, favorites, talents, hobbies, and on and on. If they weren’t talking with each other, they were thinking about each other and compiling lists of questions for when they were together. Discussing the logistics of their relationship was a high point of their early visits: Two people, stubborn, strong-willed, neighbors, no children at home, no homes, willing to take risks, ready to be true to themselves, together. They surprised themselves.

On January 8, 2004 Spring semester began at Utah Valley State College. As Ronda pulled into the school’s parking lot, her cell phone rang. It was Scott. Ronda expected Scott to say, “This town’s too small for both of us, I think you should pursue a job back East.”
Instead he said, “I love you.”

Ronda told him thanks, but to please not love her, that he shouldn’t be wanting her in his life. Then she asked him if he could tell her this to her face. He said he would and to be ready at 9pm for his confession of love. Ronda hurried to her first class of the semester, her mind split between this man’s words and how on earth she was going to make it through teaching four classes with this phrase on her mind. As she was about to enter her first class, her cell phone rang again. This time it was the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress, inviting her to Washington DC for a job interview. 

Ronda quickly reacted with a, “No,” I am going to have to pull my name from the pool.”
“What am I doing?” she thought.
“Peace, be still. Courage.” 

That evening, Scott arrived with a dozen red roses in his arms and out of his mouth came the words, “I love you.”

The month ahead was filled with long talks, fun evenings, dinners and drinks together, attempts to blend families by introducing children to each other and pointing out their similarities, negotiating a dating routine that wouldn’t have them colliding with nosey neighbors, negotiating ex’s, and loving every minute of being in love.

Ronda thought: “How many people get a second chance on love? Who would I rather be in love with than a man who understands my weaknesses and strengths and isn’t afraid of either?”

Scott thought: “I have finally found a woman like my mother. I have finally found a woman who doesn’t judge me by my past, my job, my income, but who loves me because of all of these things.”

On February 7, 2004 Scott and Ronda made their relationship public. They sat in church – together – on a pew, something Scott had not done in ages. The worship service ended, and Scott went to his meeting and Ronda to hers. This was the first time Ronda had stayed for the women’s meeting, and she was handed a slip of paper to fill out to introduce herself. She answered the question, “Where were you born; what do you do; do you have a family; what are your hobbies, etc.” She almost laughed out-loud at the final question, “What are your life plans for the next three months?” Most of the women knew Ronda – they had seen her for years coming and going from her parent’s home, and so they were happy to have her in this meeting. Ronda filled in a few blanks with the answers to her questions, however only two women could have suspected her answer to the final question.

Her answer: “I will be preparing for my marriage to Scott Weaver.”

Smiles, heads lifting, turning, gasps, whispers, and words of congratulations could be heard and seen throughout the room.

Scott and Ronda decided on a wedding date, May 4, 2004. Scott and Ronda decided on a wedding date, March 20, 2004. On February 17, 2004, Scott and Ronda decided on a wedding date, Feb. 27, 2004. Ronda said she would marry Scott – and they built their wedding rings out of symbolism – silver and turquoise, the metal and stone for communication, higher power, and unity.

They met siblings, friends, co-workers, and all of them shook their heads and smiled, smiled at the fairy tale unfolding in front of them. They commented on how calm Scott and Ronda were when they were together, how comfortable they were with each other, as if they had been together forever.

With no house between them, they look for houses. And, the perfect house is in front of their eyes – the home owned by two of Ronda’s friends – they are leaving their house and are thrilled they can turn the home they have loved over to Scott and Ronda. There is a library in this home – which can be filled with the books of these two – and as a symbol of the spiritual and intellectual pursuits they valued.

One late night Ronda begins to doubt her head and her heart. “Is this love real?” “Am I fooling myself?” “What does Scott really want – is he only after a young, innocent, newly-divorced woman?”

Scott suggested they pray. Which they did. A calmness came over both of them, and the words which have become Ronda’s mantra again return, “Peace, Be Still. Courage.” A Norah Jones song came on the CD player, “Come Away with Me;” a song Ronda loved the first time she heard it. She and Scott wrapped their arms around each other and danced to this song. As Ronda stepped back and gazed into Scott’s beautiful blue eyes she knew, knew for a certainty, that Scott was the man for her, and her doubts and fears faded into the background as their music and their love took the main stage.

Scott and Ronda decided to say good-night to each other at 10pm, but they could not quit talking with each other, so late-night conversations become the norm, with Ronda calling Scott, once he arrived home, and they talked for hours. One night Scott said the words Ronda had wanted to hear her entire life, “You are easy to love,” and Ronda sent up a prayer of thanksgiving – she had longed for this simple kindness.

The week of the wedding early-morning conversations were included in their courting ritual. With neither of them sleeping much, they woke, got dressed, and then ate breakfast at Jim’s – they didn’t want to be away from each other.

Ten days went by quickly, and suddenly it was February 27, 2004. A honeymoon to Bryce Canyon had been planned; a 3-week motel reservation had been made (the wedding date doesn’t coincide with their move-in date), and the wedding was planned, complete with a wedding cake, courtesy of Ronda’s aunts, wedding flowers, thanks to a daughter-in-law, and family and friends have arrived from around the state. Even Ronda’s uncle and his girlfriend catch the wedding bug and are married in Elko on their way from Boise to Orem for the wedding.

At 1:42am, on February 27, 2004, Ronda wrote in her journal,

“This is it. I’m marrying Scott Dickson Weaver in 17 hours. It’s really him – Scott – the man I didn’t even dare dream about. This is not the Scott I thought I knew – the man walking under a cloud, sitting at church, alone, arms folded, head down. I wondered about this Scott, who he was, what his story was, but I saw an impenetrable man who didn’t want anyone inside.
This is definitely not the Scott I know – kind, gentle, affectionate, smiling, cute, eager to live. I shake my head and giggle just a little whenever I try to merge these two men together. I want to know about this other Scott; I’m intrigued by him, and I am so glad that my Scott can share his stories with me.
I’ve been anxious and edgy these past couple of days. Scott has been patient with me; he’s stayed near me, helping, asking questions, being teachable, and eager to learn.
I’m tired – big day tomorrow.”

And it was a big day – snow, guests, a cake to finish decorating, nails to paint, hair to do, children to calm, refreshments to finish assembling, and a million questions to answer. Scott and Ronda were both happy they had chosen a small wedding rather than a larger event. This definitely simplified the chaos.

The wedding time arrived, and Ronda’s parents’ front room and dining room were filled to the brim with guests – loved ones, ones who have been supportive and will continue to be extremely important to the newly-weds.

Ronda and Scott began their long walk down the aisle at Scott’s parents’ home. They walked across the street in a light bright white snow. Entering Ronda’s parents’ home “Wildwood Flower,” played on their guitars by Ronda’s children, Tyler and Jenna, greeted them. All heads turned as Scott and Ronda walked toward the front of the room. Ronda’s father introduced everyone and spoke longer than they wanted.

A dear friend, Julie Hill, sang one of two songs, daughter Julie recited a poem, and then Bishop Engstrom stepped up to begin the wedding ceremony. However, he talked forever, and the new about-to-be-weds wiggled and squirmed. The bishop continued his sermon, and soon Scott turned to Ronda and said,
“Let’s just get married; I don’t think I can say anything besides, ‘I do.’”

Ronda had written vows she wanted to share with Scott and their friends, but Scott’s desires were her first concern; so she consented – no vows.

Finally the bishop invited the couple to stand by him. Ronda was so giddy – no one had ever seen her quite so excited, cheerful, happy. She could not quit smiling, and their friends caught this elation, and the enchantment permeated the home. Scott was anxious, and he was ready to sign the wedding license long before the Bishop finished his words of advice. Ronda heard, “Scott, do you take . . .” and that’s all she heard until, “I do.” What marvelous words! Ronda heard, “Ronda, do you take . . .” but she was so thrilled to be this close to marrying the man of her non-dreams, that she couldn’t listen to another word, until she was prompted to say, “I do.”

“I do,” two words that symbolize a lifetime of commitment, a lifetime of caring, a lifetime of intenseness and passion – good and bad, for better and worse, in sickness and health. This newly-wedded couple had talked about the meaning of commitment many times, what it means to grow-old together, and they think, with their age and experience, they know what they mean when they say, “I do.”

Julie sang another song, and Tyler and Daniel, the two sons, signed the wedding license as witnesses, and as a symbol of joining these two families together.

The wedding cake was cut, shared, and the celebration began. Scott and Ronda were anxious to leave the crowd and to begin their lives together. As quickly as common courtesy allowed, they left, quietly.

Anxiousness, jitteriness, high-school giddiness, fear, trepidation, anticipation, all of these emotions were evident as this couple walks up the stairs to their honeymoon suite and up the stairs of their new ladder of life-experiences – together. Were they prepared – as prepared as any newly-wedded couple can be. Were they anxious – yes, there were moments of butterflies. But paramount in this armful of emotions was the overwhelming sense of peace and serenity this beautiful young, old, new couple carried with them.

Grow old with me; the best is yet to be.
Each day will be better than the last, and growing old is no longer a fear; 
because we will grow together.

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