(First printed in Heartwarmers of Spirit in 2001 – reprinted by permission.)
When my first husband died after a long illness, remarrying was the furthest thought from my mind. God had given me a good marriage, why be greedy?
I continued on with my life. I went to work every day, attended church and its related functions, and filled many lonely hours spending them with my sister-in-law.
Then one day at work, a co-worker mentioned that her recently widowed father-in-law was looking for a dinner companion, and asked me if I would be interested. I wasn’t interested in the man, but the thought of a free meal was inviting, so I agreed.
That was the first of many meetings with this man John, I wasn’t interested in, and me.
Church together became a familiar routine, alternating with his church one Sunday, and mine the other. On one particular Sunday, John invited me to take a motorcycle ride with him. I agreed with some trepidation because, even though a former beau had a motorcycle and I had posed on it for the benefit of the camera, I had never actually ridden one.
After church and dinner we changed our church clothes to more casual wear. John climbed on the motorcycle, I boosted myself on behind him, and we headed to Canadohta Lake to visit friends. I found the feel of wind in my face to be exhilarating. I also started to discover I was starting to have feelings for this man, even though as my sister-in-law was more than willing to remind me, I was fifty and John was twenty years my senior.
We had a beautiful day. We visited our friends,we walked by the lake, and just generally became better acquainted. Finally, about four hours later, we decided it was time to head home. It was August, and long days were upon us, but we bid farewell to our friends and headed down the road.
We were traveling about sixty miles an hour, gathering momentum for the steep hill in front of us. I was holding onto the sissy bars tightly when, without warning, a large buck deer bounded across the road, and ran headlong into the cycle.
Memories of what happened next were nonexistent for me. I was later told the impact knocked me off the bike to the other side of the road, and I was still clutching the sissy bars, which were severed by the sheer force of the crash.
I later found out John was thrown of the bike on impact. Although he miraculously didn’t suffer any life threatening injuries, he was stiff and sore for several days.
I was transported to the nearest hospital by ambulance called to the scene by a passer-by. John followed in a second ambulance. When I came to consciousness the next day, I was in the intensive care unit, suffering from a brain concussion and possible internal injuries.
John visited me as often as rules permitted. I was pretty well out of it for several days, but could vaguely remember John saying something about marriage. I put it down to trauma, and thought little about it. All my energy was spent getting my physical well-being back to normal.
After a few days I was transferred to a private room, and John was with me constantly. One day I asked him if he had, in fact, proposed to me while I was in the ICU. He told me he had been listening to Rev. Folwell on television who said you should be married and you would be family. John thought about this for several days, and decided it had been a message straight from God, and he should obey such a message. My imagination hadn’t been playing tricks on me. He had proposed!
John did not repeat the proposal then or later. I had grown very fond of John, especially after relying on his companionship and support following the accident. I didn’t waste any time trying to be coy. It was the sort of agreement two people in love just understand. I knew we would be married as soon as I was back on my feet.
Following my discharge, I went to John’s home for recuperation. We had discussed this arrangement at some length while I was still in the hospital. I had no one at home except my cat, and my sister-in-law worked all day, and couldn’t care for me. The decision for John to take care of me in his home seemed logical.
The accident happened in August, and by November I was recuperated enough to follow through on what we both knew was coming. Even though John had never proposed again, we knew the wedding was just a part of natural progression. He was a wonderful caregiver during my convalescence, and we fell deeply in love during those months. We were married in the chapel of my church November 18, 1983. Why my church? It was my church's turn.
I had been married to my first husband twenty-three years before he died. Over the years I had accumulated quite a few things. I considered myself very fortunate to be given a chance to start a new life. Things were not that important. I hired an auctioneer who sold my furniture and household goods for pennies on the dollar.
Even though I had lived in Pennsylvania all my fifty years, I agreed to relocate with John to Florida after our honeymoon. He was determined to move there to escape the Pennsylvania weather. I thought of myself as Ruth in the Bible. “Whither thou goest, I also will go”.
There was much for both of us to learn following our marriage. We both learned to profit from the mistakes we both had made in our previous marriages. We trusted each other right from the beginning, and we still do after 17 years and still going strong.
You might wonder if we ever rode our motorcycle again. We did, just once. We picked another beautiful Sunday, changed our clothes after church and dinner, and recreated the same route we had taken that other fateful day. We accomplished our goal safely, but we were exhausted from the mental strain when we arrived home. Soon after that we sold the motorcycle which, by the way, was barely damaged in the accident. My right eyebrow was still impaled on the rear view mirror, however.
I am often asked if I blame my husband for the accident which injured me so. He was, after all, the one steering the motorcycle. It was also his idea to go for a bike ride that fateful day.
Honestly, blaming John for the accident never entered my thoughts. That accident gave me a new husband, and a new lease on life. Of course, it would have been nice if we could have fallen in love the normal way, without so much bruising and trauma. But heck, this is the way God designed it and I’m happy for it.
Although married to her dear John when this account was written, he died February 26, 2001. Now Freda B. Douglas lives alone in the same retirement village in Florida with her cat Jewely. She still writes, and her first book, “Cherish the Past”, which includes the above essay, is now being published.