I met his friends before I met him. Tiffany invited me and my 3-year-old son over for a BBQ with the gang. She knew I didn't get out much and she wanted me to meet some new people. Jeff (The Macster) was grilling the food and was trying to get a count of people to purchase the steaks. Tiffany told him, "Gina will have a steak but Heath will probably just want a hotdog." Jeff was assuming that "Heath" was my boyfriend and was thinking that this guy must be a weirdo! I think he was pretty surprised when I showed up with my little man.
That same summer, Tiff talked me into going out with the girls one evening. While waiting for her to get around, I browsed through her boyfriend's yearbooks. Nonchalantly, I pointed to a guy in one of the pictures and said, "He's cute." I could just see the wheels in her mind start turning, "Oh my God! He's coming to school here this year! You've got to meet him! Oh my God! You'll love each other!" Whooaaaa! Slow it down... The idea of a blind date was pretty scary to this single mom.
But, a blind date is exactly what Tiff and Macster arranged. My first date with Todd (the tall, dark, and handsome guy from the yearbook) was dinner at the bar in Moscow, a shed party with the locals, and hot-tubbing at my parents home. The next day Mac took us up in his plane for a private tour of Southwestern Kansas.
When school started back up a couple of weeks later, Todd was quick to call and set up another date. With our common friends and instant compatibility, everyone knew that we were a good match. Even Heath seemed to fit very easily into the gang (otherwise known as the Scrue). He became known as "The Boy", a nickname that Todd still uses for him today.
One day in the Spring of 1993, Todd got a pen and piece of paper to write out a contract. I didn't know what he was up to and he wouldn't let me read it until he was finished. It turned out to be a signed statement that I, Gina, would not tell anyone that we were going ring shopping that day! That Fourth of July weekend when we were visiting Hugoton he asked my father if he could marry me. Then he officially asked me at my parent's home.
The night before our wedding, the boys went to Liberal for a Bachelor Party. Todd was staying at Jeremy's (his best man) home. Jer had a big beautiful German Shepard named Shadow that we all loved. Macster and Jack got themselves in a little trouble that night with Liberal's Finest when they "considered" relieving themselves in the public fountain on Main Street. Thank goodness the judge believed the "considered" part! (I'll never forget that they came home from college to fight the charge and, when they won, celebrated with ice cream from the DQ!) The boys had a great time and a late night. When they got back to Jer's house, though, my wedding ring was missing! Immediately an extensive search took place resulting in the discovery of a chewed up ring case. Shadow had apparently mistaken it for a new chew toy. I can just picture the boys crowded around as Todd opened it up to find that my ring was somehow still inside and in perfect condition. That ring box is in my top drawer to this day. The next afternoon Todd married a couple of people...both me and Heath.
Taking on a child was a huge responsibility and I'm sure it was very scary. I remember watching "Tool Time" one evening and Al was babysitting the Taylor children. The next day he told Tim that it was challenging because he hadn't experienced the bonding that took place in those first few months and years of life. Todd just blurted out something like, "That's it! I missed that part! I feel just like Al!" I know it wasn't always easy. By June we were expecting our first baby together.
Tana was three when we found that we were going to become parents once more. The sonogram was scheduled but Todd was going to have to miss it because he needed to get to Satanta for Macster's Bachelor Party! I told him to go ahead. In those early sonograms you can't see much anyway. But we were surprised when Baby A and Baby B both had their first pictures taken. There was NO WAY I was telling Todd this over the phone! That afternoon I drove down to Satanta, sat my husband down at Mac's folks' house, and gave him the news. He was ecstatic! Everyone was.
With the twins came a very, very busy schedule. Actually, just the fact that we had four children kept us busy. The next several years were filled with kids' activities, the monotany of daily routines, and a constant quest for more sleep. But Todd was always up for this challenge, working hard all day and coming home to help me in the evenings.
In the last few years, Heath has left for college and then the Navy. Tana has turned into a young lady. Andy and Annie have hit "double digits." (This quote from Annie on their last birthday, "Now we're all in double digits, Mom!") The schedule is still busy but the kids' needs are no longer as demanding. I notice Todd enjoying teaching his kids to cook, taking Tana to learn to drive, and showing our children in general how a good father raises his kids.
This month, on March 12, we celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary. Heath called the other day and Todd came in with the phone saying, "It's the Boy!" He's enjoying so much seeing the man that Heath has become, the man that he helped raise.
Thanks Tiff. Thanks Mac. Your little blind date gave me a beautiful family...a beautiful life. I'll always be grateful for this man...my husband...my Todd.