My mom, Mary, Theresa, and I first rented the other side of the cottage on Lake Ontario for one week beginning July 12, 1997. That’s where Kevin and I first met. That week, we found out that Kevin’s birthday is July 17, so we went out and bought provisions to decorate his door. My mom is famous for her fondness of decorating for special occasions with colorful streamers, signs, and balloons. We had fun putting everything up while he was at work.
He was shocked when he came home and knew immediately that we were the ones behind it. We gave him a card. On it is a black and white picture of a little boy with slicked down blond hair who’s wearing dark overalls without a shirt. He’s eating a banana with a thoughtful expression on his face. The quote underneath says, “He had only one idea, and that was wrong.” We gave Kevin a clear bar of soap with a tugboat inside it and continued to hassle him about the sunken vessel none of us ever spotted.
Mixed Messages, Unfettered Laughter
The next summer we expressed our birthday wishes for Kevin with a few gifts. We gave him a notepad that said, “Experience enables us to recognize a mistake when we make it again.” I gave him a little wooden box with a star cut out of the lid. I colored it with markers, put three shiny tugboat stickers below the star, and filled the box with little papers. That summer my sisters and I would tell someone to be quiet by saying, “I’ve got a whole box of Shh! with your name on it!” Kevin had heard us use this many times, so I wrote Shh! on several pieces of notebook paper, cut them up, wrote his name on the decorated wooden box, and gave it to him. He was very amused.
Our useful gift, or one that at least appeared to have practical value, was a magnet with the phone numbers of the Coast Guard. We told him we’d included it so he could call and get the coordinates of the sunken tugboat he still claimed existed. He’d been disappointed by the Coast Guard in the past, and we’d joked about how much time they spend at local donut shops. Later we confessed that the phone number on the magnet was actually for Dunkin Donuts, not the Coast Guard. He thought that was even funnier.
We also gave him a set of ballpoint pens with his name on them. He took this as an indication that he should be writing me. This was a message I wanted to convey, but I’m sure wasn’t what my mom was thinking when she bought them. He apologized numerous times for not writing me back. He explained he didn’t know what to say. I forgave Kevin and told him his father had written me one of the nicest letters I’d ever received in response to the one I’d sent him. Of course, this didn’t make Kevin think he was off the hook.
Fantastically romantic fact: Kevin kept everything. He still has the card, the tugboat soap, a whole box of Shh! with his name on it…
Happy Birthday, Babe! I’m so grateful that we’ve been able to celebrate your last fourteen birthdays together. I’m amazed at the countless ways God has worked in and through us to help each other grow closer to Him and one another. It gives me hope that He’ll keep working such miracles in the years to come, and, thereby, exceed our current aspirations by 500 miles. Love you muchly, me