(Editor’s Note: When I wrote my “Great Love Story,” some of you asked to hear my husband’s side of the story. Here is the beginning, in his words).
10 years ago, on a Sunday afternoon, my life would change forever. Little did I know it! Up to that day, my life had been a roller-coaster ride of highs and lows. As a child, I grew up in a very ambitious family. My dad worked very hard building a business, building race cars, and later buying and rebuilding old houses as investments. Dad was good at making things work, and had success at everything he attempted.
I remember the weeknights he spent building and repairing the race car, so that they could compete on the weekends. Dad was a tough guy. He could pull a transmission out of the race car on his chest, install a new clutch, and lift the four-speed back into place in the back of the race car hauler, while the co-owner drove the hauler down the road from a Sunday afternoon event to the Sunday evening special. In my late teenage years, Dad bought several old houses in our town and renovated them for rental use.
I remember working on the rental houses from 5:00 til dark on weeknights, then going home for supper around 9:00. We went to a nearby city to remove aluminum siding, windows, doors and cabinetry from houses that were to be demolished to make way for a new interstate highway. At dark, we would grab a bag of Jerry’s hamburgers (19 cents each) and head home with our building materials to be finessed into place on the rental houses.
I grew up knowing one way to live. Work hard. I graduated from high school, went to trade school for auto mechanics, and would accept nothing but top of the class. For many years, I thought it served me well. I followed in Dad’s footsteps, buying properties, investing, working too hard, and trying to be a success. My first rental property purchase was at age 19, and I opened my own auto repair shop at age 20. By the time I was 35, I had 5 full time employees and over 20 rental tenants. In 1996, I built a new home near the lake (of course doing most of the work myself). I was very proud, but never satisfied.
The problem was, I could never get enough of anything. I accumulated, collected, refurbished, rebuilt, and hoarded everything I could get my hands on. It became a sickness. I could not have enough properties, snowmobiles, motorcycles, classic muscle cars, collections of miscellaneous knick-knacks, or anything else that caught my eye. Most of it ended up in various storage garages, some of which I built for that very purpose. You see, I had a very addictive personality.
In my previous marriage, these things were all distractions. My ex-wife and I were good at going separate ways and did not look to Christ to glue things together. In 1982, I began taking vacations by myself. After many years, and many more bad habits, it got to a point where in any given year I might go to the Daytona 500, the Indianapolis 500, a collector car meet or two, a snowmobiling week in the Wisconsin Northwoods, and other miscellaneous weekend adventures, all with “the guys”. Even though I had always wished for a daughter, I was too busy with all of my hobbies to raise more kids, so I got a vasectomy in 1992. I got up before 5:00 every morning to work on the latest hot rod. All the while, I ate and drank too much, rode too fast, drove too hard, and played like there was no tomorrow. I was miserable!
Don’t get me wrong, there were still many highs. A new rental property, a new classic car, a Harley Davidson, or a newer and faster snowmobile were temporary fixes that elated me. I would be happy for awhile, until the novelty wore off or something else caught my eye. Over-eating led to over-exercising. Weightlifting to the point that I couldn’t drive home, and distance running were my escapes from binges. Of course, everything was in excess. I ran only about two miles a day, but at full speed because I couldn’t spare the time to do it right or to warm up or stretch out. There was so much to do, so many rental projects, so many vacations, and so many toys to fix up or play with, that I had to be on a dead run every day.
Eleven years ago, I realized that the abuse to my body had worn out my knees. The first surgery on my right knee left me not able to descend stairs. Of course, I had been too busy to follow doctor’s orders after the surgery, and didn’t give it a chance to heal. I had a problem with listening to doctors that went back to when I was 20 years old. At that time, I had my appendix removed, and quickly proceeded to go back to work and tear open the incision.
I found a new knee specialist, and went back in to try to get some relief. They removed the cartilage from my femur and abraded the bone, drilling holes in the bone for blood to seep out and form a scar tissue cartilage. This time I knew I was on borrowed time with these knees. Being an auto mechanic in those days was hard on knees, with countless kneelings to set the hoist arms four times for each car lift and each descent. I had already looked for a new profession.
My real estate background came into play, and a local real estate broker trained me. I got my real estate license and started selling houses. I shuffled money like decks of cards, taking in commissions and rent income, sending it out to pay the bills, buy toys, and take more vacations. Then it happened…..
It was a Sunday afternoon, ten years ago, when a series of events would change my life forever and end the roller coaster. The next ten years would be a time of major changes, discovery of what life is all about, an end to the slavery of earthly treasures and debt, and acceptance of Christ as my Lord and Savior. I was about to embark on an adventure that would be nothing short of miraculous. This emotionally worn out, panic-attacked, surgically sterile man whose life was most likely half (or almost all) over would find his great love. God had a plan for me, and it involved his perfect gifts to me in a beautiful and loving wife and the daughter(s) I had given up on eight years earlier. I was an hour from meeting the woman who would become the love of my life. My phone rang and I proceeded to drive off to show a house listing.
As I leaned on my crutches on the front porch of the house, a red Oldsmobile pulled up to the curb. A gorgeous brunette with the most beautiful eyes and warm smile walked up the sidewalk and introduced herself. It was Heather.
Please post a comment if you would like to hear the rest of the story!