Somewhere around 35 1/2 years ago I took that fateful trip that so many men must take, the trip to meet your girlfriend’s parents in order to ask for her hand in marriage. My wife’s father was a first sergeant of a detachment on an Army post. Even though I was a veteran, or perhaps because I was a veteran, I knew what it meant to meet “top.” And then the idea of asking “top” for his daughter’s hand … well that can lead to fear and trembling.
At the time I was a veteran and a college student on the G.I. Bill. My wife and I had met during a class we both took. It led to a simple friendship. Eventually it blossomed into a romance. We still argue over the details of what happened, meaning who asked whom out on the first date. It is part of family lore that we do not agree on that point.
Her parents lived several states away. So, eventually, the time came. I had asked my wife to consider something deeper. Yes, I was not very good with words right then. And she said yes! Some days later, she also said that I needed to meet her parents. It was a command decision. I obeyed!
And so we went in her car to meet her parents. “Dead Man Walking.” Yep, that was me. But, I found her parents hospitable. Eventually, that weekend, I had some time alone with her father, and I asked for her hand in marriage. He smiled, and did not kill me as I feared. He told me that it was her decision, but that he approved and gave his blessing. I felt like the condemned man who had received a pardon.
And so we were married. Several months from now we reach 35 years of marriage. But, I still remember being, “Dead Man Walking.”