When I was growing up (and hopefully I still am!), my maternal grandmother, Grandma Brock used to tell us that on the first day of each month, when you awake in the morning, the VERY FIRST thing that comes out of your mouth should be “Rabbit!” so you would have good luck all month long. I don’t know what she said would happen if you didn’t say it first, but knowing her jolly sense of humor, I believe that good luck also came, maybe just not as much. I have no idea where her superstition came from (I suspect it is generations old), but on March 1, 1975, I must have awakened and shouted “RABBIT!”
Ashley Calhoun had called me up sometime before this date and asked me to attend a play with him at Long Wharf Theater (Long Wharf is often a “preview” stage for many Broadway plays) in West Haven, CT. He had season tickets, and he and his first wife used to attend together with another couple, “Bunny” (how’s THAT for prophecy?) and “Pitch” Pitcher. When Ashley and his wife separated, he got “custody” of the tickets, so he had the extra one and called me to ask if I would go with him and the other couple. The play was supposed to be a comedy (and it was!) and he knew I loved to laugh, he knew he needed a laugh, (his wife had left him and he had been very down), so he figured I might enjoy going with him. Ashley had been the Associate Pastor, and Minister of Youth and Education of the church of which I and my family were members. While he was serving that congregation (in Westport, CT), we came to know one another about three years after he arrived there. That was the year I took a break from college, between my Jr. and Sr. years, and he invited me to help with the music program of the Youth Fellowship, and participate in other ways as well. We became good friends, and as he and I both enjoyed music, we frequently found opportunities to sing together for church functions and fund-raisers – we loved to sing music from Broadway musicals; sometimes each of us would throw in some classical selections. We just generally enjoyed one another, and solely as friends. When he was transferred to another church in Greenwich, CT, while sorry to see him move on, I certainly never expected to be in any further relationship with him. Shortly after he and his wife moved to Greenwich, she left him. That painful day started a chain of events that led us both to the wonderfully epic day of March 1, 1975.
It turns out that I was not the first woman he asked to go on this date. He had first asked a clergywoman, a friend of long standing, to go with him. For whatever reason, she turned him down, a response for which I am eternally grateful. I’m not sure when he told me I was “second choice,” but somewhere along the line I came to know it, and it might have been that first time he called. It didn’t change my mind – after all, we were just friends, going to see a play together and have a few laughs. The Pitchers and we had a great time, and went out for dinner after the play, which was a matinee. Sometime that night, somewhere along the road, as he was driving me home, something between us just “clicked.” We both knew it at exactly the same time, and when we arrived at my house, our first kiss was more passionate than either of us expected; in fact, it was a little scary. But the next day, Ashley called me again; we started calling each other daily, and dating almost as often. I would drive to Greenwich from my job in Wilton, CT, or he would drive to Weston, CT from Greenwich. We went out for dinner (a lot) or stayed home and talked and talked and talked; we shared our life stories, coming to truly know one another, and before we knew it, we realized we were headed for marriage. Both of us said, almost simultaneously, “Whoa! What’s happening here?” Ashley and I tried to put on the brakes, but the daily calls and frequent dates did not end. There was concern that he might be “on the rebound” from his first marriage, and we took the concern seriously, but came to believe that it didn’t apply in our case. We were right (or our marriage has been among the longest “rebounds” in history!). The engagement ring went on my finger on June 24, the marriage occurred on October 25, 1975.
Our life together has been far from perfect, but it has been wonderful; full of challenges, and overflowing with God’s mercies – our family and friends not the least among them. As we look back we see things that happened in our life together that at the time did not make sense, but now on reflection we see how God was preparing us for each new step, each choice we would make as the road of our lives would take us in directions we ourselves had not planned. For that, I am also grateful. My own life-maps and plans are not nearly as wonderful as God’s.
So, this morning, I had no reason to say “Rabbit!” I have now all the blessings I could ever need or want, and the best one – my husband – I just reached over and kissed. Lucky me!