Still a Romantic at Heart

On this day in 1991 Barbara Gayle sealed her fate when she uttered those two little words that change everything, “I do.” Funny thing is, when the day began neither of us had any idea what fate had in store.

I had asked her to marry me and she had said yes. We had no plans in place for when or where or how, but over breakfast that morning we decided to drive into town and start the process of the blood tests. We figured it would take several days and be one less thing to deal with later. We looked up a laboratory in the Yellow Pages and headed out.

Being so close to Christmas, the lab wasn’t very busy and to our surprise the technician said, “We’ll have your results in about an hour if you want to come back.” So, an hour later we stopped at the drive-through window, picked up our results, and learned that science agreed we were a good match.

It was still not yet Noon, and this had been way too easy, so we decided to go downtown to the courthouse and start the process of obtaining a marriage license. We figured it would take several days and be one less thing to deal with later. After filling out the proper paperwork the clerk presented us with our license and then proposed, “Being the Friday before Christmas, there’s almost nothing going on. One of the Judges upstairs might be available.”

So, we went upstairs and sure enough one of the Judges was available. They were having their office Christmas party. They shared Christmas punch and cookies with us. And, after a brief ceremony the Judge pronounced us husband and wife.

Neither of us could’ve ever imagined being married in such a way, but fate sometimes leads us down the right path according to its own schedule. We have indeed loved, honored and cherished each other in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, for better and for worse. For over eighteen years she has been my best friend, my trusted confidant and my one true love.

Regardless of how casually our marriage may have begun it is the solid foundation upon which the rest of my being stands. Her love is the burning ember within my heart that keeps the light from being extinguished. And the privilege of loving her is the compass by which I strive to be the man she deserves.

When you wake from restful slumber presume not what lies in store.
But choose right at every crossroads and arrive at destiny’s door.


Tim Couch
SARAH (Still A Romantic At Heart:)

The night I saw Santa

Today, I’ve been conjuring up memories of Christmas past. On Christmas eve when I was little I was so excited about Santa coming that I couldn’t sleep. I would squeeze my eyes shut and try my hardest to go to sleep because Santa couldn’t come while I was awake. As I grew older I wanted to see Santa. It wasn’t enough to see that he had been there on Christmas morning. I needed to see him for myself. So, I would struggle to stay awake until he came. I thought if I lay very still under the covers and listened very closely I would hear him, and then I would jump out of bed and catch him in the act. It only worked one time.

This particular Christmas we all spent at Grandma’s house. And when I say “all” I mean parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Grandma’s house wasn’t very big so it was decided that all twenty or so cousins would sleep on pallets in the living room, where the Christmas tree was. It wasn’t easy finding space for that many kids in a fully furnished room, but somehow our Moms and Dads managed it and we eventually settled down to go to sleep.

I lay there still as a mouse with my cousin Rusty’s stinky feet six inches from my face for what seemed like hours. I may have dosed off but sometime during the night I heard a noise. I didn’t dare move. I opened my eyes just a little, and there he was. Santa was making his way toward the Christmas tree. He was carrying a huge bag and he was stepping over and among and around all those bodies and he never woke any of the others. He was perfectly silent and graceful and magical.

I held my breath for fear he would discover me watching as he quickly went about his business. He emptied his bag under the tree, and then just as gracefully and silently he made his way back through the throng of sleeping kids. As he slipped out the door and into the night I actually heard him say, “Ho, Ho, Ho. Merry Christmas.” And then he was gone.

The wonder, the excitement, the genuine joy that I felt in that moment is my wish for you this Holiday season. Merry Christmas and may God bless you and yours.

Warmest regards,

Tim Couch

Pop J’s Chocolate Covered Cherries

This time of year always brings up memories of Pop J. His name was John W. Allen and he was my maternal grandpa. Pop J loved chocolate covered cherries at Christmas time. It may be just my memory but they are the only store-bought candies I can remember being at Grandma’s house, and somehow that made them special. That, and the fact that even though Pop J loved them he was always willing to share. The house would be filled with homemade cookies and candies and country cooking that Grandma and Mom had no doubt been working on for days, but when Pop J offered me one of his chocolate covered cherries that was the best of the best. He would be sitting in his easy chair watching whatever ballgame was on T.V. and I would standing at his knee. After a while he would reach over and pick up the box of cherries from the side table. He would never just hand me a cherry. He would open the box and present it to me so that I could pick the one I wanted. I would look them over carefully until I found the very best one. And then, I would leave that one for him.

I don’t know why he loved chocolate covered cherries. I never asked him and he never said. I wish I could say I knew him well. My Pop J was, by all accounts, a very interesting man. He was a farmer and a rancher, although the land he farmed and the cattle he ranched generally belonged to someone else. He made wine from whatever grew in excess in the orchard or garden. He was considered among the best when it came to witching water for a well. And, he once turned down a movie producer who considered him the perfect character for his movie. All these things I learned after he was gone. When I was young he was working hard to provide for family, and when I was older I had other interests. Now, I realize how much I missed.

This Christmas when you’re with a loved one don’t just spend time with them. Make an effort to learn something new about them and to allow them to learn something new about you. That is a gift that will stay with you forever. Merry Christmas.

With warm wishes,

Tim Couch