I wear Officer Friendly’s wedding band on a chain around my neck. It’s a big ring. He was a big guy.
When he asked me to marry him, he invited my mother and me to lunch. It was the day before New Year’s Eve – so December 30. Mom was visiting me because she and I were going to volunteer for a big New Year’s Eve event together and was already at my house. When OF called to invite me to lunch, I said,
“Honey, I can’t. Mom drove up early and is already here.”
OF replied, “That’s okay. Bring her along!”
OF and I had a regular place that we went to eat because that’s where he took me on our first date. Mom and I got there before he did because he was coming from work. I happened to have the day off.
When OF arrived we ordered our food. He ALWAYS ordered the same thing: soup, salad, pie.
While we waited for our food, we were having easy conversation. OF had met my mother several times before this lunch date so was very comfortable with her. But he got quiet and pulled something out of his pocket.
He looked at me and said, “I just don’t want the sun to go down on one more day without asking you to marry me.”
I was TERRIBLE when I responded. Instead of even talking to him, I jabbed my mother in the side and said, “Huh, he missed it by one day!!!!” I knew my dad had proposed to my mother on New Year’s Eve and that’s one of the reasons I invited her to be with me because dad had already passed away and Mom gets a little sad on Dec 31.
Like I said – I was terrible. I turned to OF and said yes, of course.
Before we were married, I had his wedding ring engraved, but not with our wedding date. I had it engraved with the words ‘Summer Angel’.
I called him my Summer Angel because we met in the summer.
The first time I saw him, he was sitting at a picnic table along side the Mississippi River and peering through field glasses. I was taking my morning walk along the river. I guessed what he was looking at, but wanted to make sure. I walked up to him and said, “Whatcha looking at with those things?”
There were some peregrine falcons nesting under a bridge that spanned the river. OF started talking about birds. I stayed to listen because I had promised myself to learn more about birds as I got older. OF knew a lot and I had a lot I wanted to learn. That guy loved birds!
Each day for most of that summer, I took my daily walk, and would run into OF. Sometimes he’d be walking, but mostly, he’d be sitting at the same picnic table and watching the birds. After we were married, I named that table the Officer Friendly memorial picnic table.
Near the end of that summer, I got pneumonia and wasn’t able to take any walks along the river for quite some time. By the time I was well enough to walk the river, I was back at work and not really thinking about OF.
Quite a lot of time passed before I ran into OF again. When I did, he officially asked me out for dinner. We went out that same day!
That led to the December 30 proposal and our wedding at which I presented him with the band that I still wear on a chain. When I showed him the engraving, “Summer Angel”, he asked me why I engraved what I did.
He knew that he had poor health. I told him that if he died before me, I wanted to engrave something that would comfort me if I had to wear it around my neck. I wanted to remember how/when/where we met. I met him in the summer and ever after called him my Summer Angel because he changed what was rather a rather long and boring time away from work into something interesting and fun.
So, Summer Angel it was, and is . . .
Today is the anniversary of his death. I’ll go three places. First, the cemetery – but I won’t stay long. There is a TON of snow out there and the Christmas wreaths are still row upon row and it’s too sad. Second, the place where he took me out to eat on our first date and the day her proposed to me in front of my mother. I will order soup, salad and pie. Then I’ll have a quiet sit at the ‘memorial picnic table’ beside the river that brought us together.
I’ll take my field glasses, but somehow, I don’t think I’ll be looking for the falcons . . . .