21: An Unconventional Proposal

21: An Unconventional Proposal

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Here Comes the Bride

An Unconventional Proposal

The manner of giving is worth more than the gift.

~Pierre Corneille, Le Menteur

My husband Geoff and I met in college and dated for almost three years. I knew he was “the one” almost from the beginning of our relationship. I pestered him about marriage for several months, but he was reluctant to talk about it, so I dropped it. Even my grandfather, who was my guardian and best friend, knew my husband was the one for me. He offered Geoff a thousand dollars to marry me when he met him for the first time! Because I trusted my grandfather so much, I knew after hearing the story that I had made the right choice.

On my twenty-first birthday, Geoff had to work at a hunters’ check station, so I decided to go home for the weekend to spend it with my girlfriends. When I returned, Geoff told me he still had one other birthday gift to buy me at the mall, and I begged him for hints. He told me it could cost anywhere from a few dollars to a few thousand, and that he would have to make it. I had no clue what he was talking about, so I was incredibly impatient! He let me accompany him to the mall where he purchased the items he needed, but I was banished to one part of the mall that was nowhere near the stores he was visiting.

When we returned home, he told me he had to go to the garage to make my gift, and I was forbidden from checking on him. My curiosity was overwhelming, but I left him alone. When he finally returned, I begged him to give it to me, but he said it was still “drying.” Still, I harassed him non-stop until he finally gave in and went to the garage to retrieve it. He came to me where I was sitting on the couch and knelt in front of me. I stared at the item he was holding in confusion as he professed his love and asked me to marry him. I was so stunned that I actually laughed! His look of bewilderment only made me laugh harder, but I was able to say yes when I realized what he was holding.

Because he was a poor college student putting himself through school, he was not able to afford an engagement ring. Instead, he bought a crystal shaped like a diamond, gold spray paint, and some wire that he shaped it into a ring. The paint was still drying, so he brought the handmade ring in on a stick so he wouldn’t touch it and smear the paint. And that was what he held out to me when he asked me to marry him. It was one of the most romantic and sweetest things he’d ever done. I couldn’t have been happier with my ring, and I called all my friends and family to tell them the good news. My grandfather’s words: “It’s about time!”

Geoff spent the summer working in a different part of the state, so I did most of the wedding planning myself. We did not have much money and were paying for most of the wedding ourselves. My grandfather bought my dress for me, which made it even more special. And my parents paid for the venue, and made the food and the cake. We had no band or music, and there was no air conditioning on the hottest day of the year. The ceremony lasted about seven minutes, and the pictures and video that had been poorly taken by family members are almost not worth having. But it didn’t matter. We were so happy to be married and call each other “husband” and “wife” that we laughed it off.

When we had been married for six years, my husband suggested we get married again and do it the way we would have wanted, so that’s what we did. My grandfather had passed away the year after our wedding (after saying to me on my wedding day that he could leave me knowing I had someone wonderful to take care of me), so we honored him and our other relatives who had since passed by dedicating the ceremony and the day to them.

Almost twenty years later, we are still married and very much in love. I still have the engagement ring that Geoff fashioned for me so many years ago. It’s hanging on a ribbon from the mirror of my car so I can look at it every day when I am in the car. People ask me what it is, and I tell them the story with pleasure as I remember Geoff coming toward me with it drying on a stick to ask me to share his life. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t a real engagement ring — only that he loved me enough to make it so he could ask me to be his wife. It’s not the engagement ring or the wedding that matters anyway. It’s the love that we share every day of this marriage and the happiness that we’ve given each other as partners for life.

~Kristi Cocchiarella FitzGerald

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