Living Happily Ever After


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The First Adventure

“For there is a price ticket on everything that puts a whizz into life, and adventure follows the rule. It’s distressing, but there you are.” (Leslie Charteris)

One adventure of my most recent business trip, was the opportunity to address a crowd of several thousand people. As I manage the philanthropic efforts of my company, my topic was service to others and making the world a better place. Here’s an edited excerpt:

On the plains of Texas and Oklahoma, trees were sometimes rare and precious things and there was a tradition that recognized the responsibility of one generation for the next. Homesteaders, once their house was built, the well dug and the first crops harvested, planted their ‘grandchildren grove.’ Farmers read scores of seed catalogs to select a particular type of pecan tree—hardy and strong, able to withstand deep winters and torrid summers—and sent off carefully hoarded money.

In due time, a tree hardly larger than a switch arrived. The farmers placed the roots in water, dug a hole, planted the trees, and watered them carrying bucketful after bucketful from their wells. The pecan trees weren’t for their benefit. Pecan trees grow very slowly, the farmers would be dead and gone long before the groves they planted provided substantial shade or nuts. Some felt work that went unrewarded for generations was a waste, but farmers who planted pecan trees weren’t planting the trees for themselves. They were creating a legacy for others.

In the 1870s, my great-great grandfather left his native country of Denmark for Utah and established a homestead. He built a dwelling on the property, worked the land for a number of years and eventually it became his. He built this house—lived in a tiny upstairs accessed by a ladder on the outside of the structure while his sheep lived in the room below him! His effort sustained his life and became a legacy.  Who can predict the value of one person’s life well-lived, the service they provide or the impact of a legacy? In my experience, you can’t, because it’s limitless.

I was reminded of that fact 140 years after he established his legacy, because his legacy literally saved me when I unexpectedly became single—without a home, money or assets—the sole parent and support of my four children. What began as a little homestead and then became his legacy, sustained me and my children for a time and helped us get our start in building and creating a new life.

What is your legacy? How are you demonstrating your commitment to making a difference in the world, making the world a better place? Your legacy is the service you provide, the mark you make on the world while you’re here and the one you will leave behind when you are gone. Although our days are numbered, may our good works never be!”

After the speech ended, I went about my other business duties at my company’s event. But as usually happens after a speech, I met people who recognized me as the woman who spoke on stage, they’d introduce themselves and we’d have a great discussion about the impact of service, making the world better or they’d share how someone had touched their life by serving them. What I didn’t expect was any discussion about anything else. But as I’ve said before, in life, you get unexpected adventures.

A man approached, introduced himself, told me how much he’d enjoyed my remarks and what an amazing woman I was. He was quite effusive in his praise, it made me start to think, “Wow, my speech must have been even better than I thought!” And then the man moved on to the topic of being a single parent, surviving hard things, told me we had a lot in common, what a strong woman I must be, how much he admired me and how nice it was to meet me. (I know, I know, I’ve always been slow to catch on to these types of things, haven’t I? And apparently two times through the singles scene, in the 1980s and again in 2009-2010, didn’t make my instincts any sharper!)

It suddenly dawned on me that the man was single and apparently thought I still was! He continued to talk (and compliment me) and I began to notice he was still holding my hand from our initial handshake. And then his talk turned to the idea of destiny, including that it was more than a coincidence that we were involved at the same company, at the same event, and that it was fate that we meet.

I withdrew my hand as politely as I could, thanked him for his kind words, told him it had been a pleasure to meet him and added, “And what a blessing it is to get through those hard times! It’s so nice to be out of mine, to have life move on and to have it all come together again in great happiness.” (Or something like that. I was kind of flustered about the man’s mistaken impression and was almost panicked that I’d apparently given an auditorium of people the wrong impression about my marital status—despite the fact I’m very open about my marital status and I stood there wearing my wedding ring during my speech AND while meeting the single man!)

I went back to my work duties, laughed at that “unexpected” adventure and quickly forgot it. Until the next time the man sought me out. And the next time. And when his next conversation began with, “Can you believe we keep running into each other like this? It must be more than destiny!” (all the while, he’s clutching my hand in his) I began to think it was more than destiny too. I thought it was like many other travel experiences I’ve had—trips to Disneyland, cruises, whatever—where I’ve noticed the same person/family or run into the same person/family over and over again for a STRANGE reason (usually because they stand out because they’re “odd”!) I emphasized, again, that I was married and didn’t run into my new friend again after that. Adventure over.

Until I got home, returned to work, checked my email and had a new Facebook friend request! From you-know-who!

“Boldness be my friend.” (William Shakespeare)

Spontaneous “Date”

“I like Vegas for its spontaneity.” (Tony Curtis)

Due to the new developments at our Utah home, I went alone to my Las Vegas business trip. As part of the trip, my company was having an event in conjunction with “The Donny and Marie Show” at the Flamingo hotel. I was there in an official capacity, coordinating everything (including a photo of my corporate group with a photo company), working with Donny and making sure the meet and greet between Donny Osmond and the distributors of my company went smoothly. Afterward, everyone got to see their show. (Which, by the way, is fabulous. I recommend everyone see it! And Donny didn’t even ask me to say that.)

While waiting for the show, I was seated at the table of my assigned ticket. My co-worker on the project had been seated beside me but he left for a few minutes and another man sat down across from me. He introduced himself, I introduced myself and we chatted for a moment before a cocktail waitress appeared and asked if we wanted drinks. I ordered a bottle of water and reached for my wallet when my new friend said, “It’s ok, it’s on me.” I thanked him but said I would get my water. He insisted, “No, it’s on me, I’ve got it” and he paid for my drink and his. (Very nice, I guess, just very unexpected. I’m sure the man was just being friendly and nice but I confess, I did look down to make sure I had my wedding ring on and that it looked like a wedding ring; I also mentioned my husband a few times during the conversation.)

While waiting for the show to begin and now the drinks to arrive, a photographer approached and asked if he could take our picture. I didn’t know what to say. I’m a corporate employee of my company, my new friend was a distributor and I didn’t want to offend anyone. I’m also married and was wearing a wedding ring, but I didn’t want to offend a corporate distributor by making a big deal about that—so I didn’t answer. My new friend took over the conversation and said, “Sure.” (Maybe he didn’t want to offend anyone, either.)

The photographer directed him to move around and sit by me for the photo, which he did. Then he kept directing him to sit closer to me, to put his arm around me, for me to lean in to him, for me to put my hand on his chest, the photographer snapping photos with each new adjustment and before I knew it, I felt like we had a full-on engagement portrait session going!


Oh well, I reasoned, I just won’t purchase the pictures after the show. I wasn’t going to make a big deal about a very crazy, unexpected experience and a photographer’s mistaken impression. At the last minute before the show started, I was called away to take care of some work business and I returned just before the show started–long enough for my co-worker to hand me the bottle of water my new friend had purchased and to direct me to a seat on the front row of the show! What an unexpected surprise! (My thanks to Donny’s manager and my co-worker for working that out for me as a special treat.) I did as I was directed and didn’t even have the chance to thank my friend for the water.

After the show (which, by the way, in addition to being wonderful was so amazing that, according to Donny’s manager, I had a goofy grin on my face through the whole thing–he joked that these day, he watches the people, like me, rather than the actual show! haha), I walked out and paid the photo company who had taken the group photos for my company as an employee of the photographer came up, handed me a bag and said, “Here are your pictures with our compliments.”

I was a little surprised; I’d thought the photographer was simply going to provide me with a disk of the group photos he took but I thought, “Oh, that was nice of him to go the extra mile and print a group photo so I’d have a preview of what’s on the disk” and continued on my way. While riding in a cab back to my hotel I reached into the sack and pulled out the photos to take a look. Except that as I reached my hand into the sack for the flimsy photo I was expecting, instead, my hand grasped a leather portfolio folder!

I thought, “Wow, they REALLY went the extra mile for these group photos,” opened the binder and saw, instead of the group photo I was expecting, a lovely assortment of romantic poses and pictures with, apparently, my new boyfriend! Bound nicely in a leather portfolio! Official documentation of what I’d accidentally and unknowingly been up to in Las Vegas!

I busted up laughing at the crazy and unexpected gift, wondering how I end up in these crazy types of experiences, just as my phone rang. I answered it. Wouldn’t you know, it was my husband! Calling to see how things were going at the show and in Las Vegas! All I could answer was that things were going a little too well! LOL.

“…Vegas…It was quite an experience.” (Davy Jones)


Second Marriage Moment #24: Spawned By Grass

“The thing I love is that my home life hasn’t changed. I still help out with the garbage. I still help out with the lawn.” (Taylor Lautner)

You know what’s amazing about remarriage? It doesn’t change your life one bit. Seriously! (At least, that’s the sarcastic thought I had one day last summer shortly after lawn mowing season began.) The truth is, remarriage even complicates…lawn mowing.

I remember the days when mowing the lawn was simple. The lawn needs mowing? You do it— or assign one of your children to do it. Ah, the good old days.

One day earlier this year, the lawn at the Merriman-Ramsey house needed mowing. In an attempt to bring the children together and to give everyone an opportunity to contribute to the running of our household, a child from each family (one Merriman, one Ramsey) was assigned lawn mowing duty.We divided the assignment into two section, the front lawn and the back lawn. Simple, right? You’d think!

We’d been told by remarriage experts that (at least in the beginning of the relationship) the biological parent of each child in the family should be the parent to correct behavior, make assignments, etc…My husband was very good to follow this counsel (better than me, of course, but that’s a blog post for another time) so one day my husband called to request I remind my son to empty the grass bag when he was done mowing the lawn.

I obeyed, called my son and reminded him to empty the grass bag attached to the lawn mower. He argued about doing it, pointing out that the other lawn mower in the family didn’t do it after HE mowed, why should my son? He added that he was tired of cleaning up after the other lawn mower, too, but my son emptied the bag despite his grumbling.

I got another call to report the grass bag had been emptied—of the grass left by the other lawn mower. I remained calm and endured the comments, thinking the other lawn mower could probably say the same thing and hung up the phone thinking the lawn situation was taken care of. My son was hard at work mowing the lawn.


My son called a few minutes later and requested to mow the front lawn. Unfortunately, I had to deny that request. The other lawn-mowing son had already told his dad he wanted to mow the front lawn, his dad had called me and informed me of that already, so I told my son that job was taken and assigned him to mow the back yard. Grumbling, he hung up the phone and went to work—I assumed.

That assumption was corrected when I got another phone call. Apparently, my son had taken the initiative to inspect the front lawn! He reported that it was not up to par: patches of long grass were visible to the naked eye at every turn and periodically on the straightaways. He requested to re-mow the front lawn for his assignment.

Request denied.

He wasn’t a very happy lawn boy as he hung up the phone to go to work mowing the back lawn. I went back to work, assuming, again, everything was taken care of.


There were follow-up phone calls about fuel for the machine, the length of the grass, slope of the backyard and my son’s lack of enthusiasm for his assigned duty. When the back lawn was finished, I got another call to report its completion, along with a question, “Have you called to make sure the front lawn gets taken care of?”

“No, I’ve been working, or trying to work,” I replied. But I told him I’d pass that request along as I felt it appropriate. We hung up the phone. Later that day I got another phone call: the front lawn still looked terrible, what was going to be done about it? In a bold move (or out of pure, green desperation) I took the situation into my own hands. I told my son we weren’t going to worry about anyone else or their assignment, we were going to worry about him, his assignment and making sure he always does an excellent job and takes pride in his work. Situation resolved, I thought, as I hung up the phone at the conclusion of yet another conversation about the lawn!

I got a final phone call about the lawn later that day. I finally laid down the law: “We’re not going to worry about it. The person who mowed the lawn OR THEIR PARENT will be responsible to make sure the job is done well.”

Second marriage moment #24: the memory of the days when life was “simple” (or at least lawn mowing was!) In that moment remarriage brought this renegade thought to mind: “I mow my own lawn.” (Ron Reagan) It sure might be easier! But then just as quickly I was reminded of the myriad of ways life was a lot more complicated for me prior to remarriage and counted my blessings that my unexpected life had taken that unexpected twist of getting to marry again.

Tim Allen’s mom only had it part right. “My mom said the only reason men are alive is for lawn care and vehicle maintenance.”

I think they’re for marrying, too!

LOVE #5! Married to him for 8 months now and together, we’re bravely tackling (and finding joy) in all aspects of the new frontier called marriage/remarriage that we’re exploring, including…mowing the lawn.

The Morning After

“You will never have buyer’s remorse with wood. You can change your furniture, window covering or color scheme, but the wood will always be there and most important, be appropriate. Look at Monticello–the original wood floors there are still magnificent.” (Ellen Paris)

The last hurdle to clear, the last bit of lunacy to confront following my remarriage, was the “morning after.” The very tiny part of me that feared I’d wake up, married to #5, and be seized by thoughts of, “Uh-oh. WHAT have I done?”

I never shared that with #5 though. I thought I was the only one with anything to fear upon awakening. However that night, our wedding night, before we fell asleep #5 looked over at me and expressed a fear of his own: “I have to warn you, with my hair this long, it’s not going to be pretty in the morning. I can’t guarantee what you’re going to see, crazy things happen to it while I sleep, brace yourself.”

Sometimes men and women are from different planets! There I was worrying about the possibility of major “morning after” regret–and #5 was warning me about his morning hair.

The next morning, I woke up. I hesitated for just a moment, a part of me was afraid to lift my eyes from the pillow and face my fear. But then I felt #5′s hand on my arm. I looked over at him. He was smiling, and he got right to the heart of the matter as he asked, ”Well? What do you think? How do you feel? Are you still happy?”

I’d never verbalized my fear, but he always seems to know what I’m worrying about anyway. And in that instant, a wave of peace and calm and happiness with #5 and my choice and the events of the day before washed over me. I detected absolutely NO REGRET. I replied, “I’m happy! And even happier that I have NO buyer’s remorse whatsoever!”

We had a great time in Las Vegas; we had a fabulous honeymoon; and we thoroughly enjoyed our time together. That “morning after” was the last little issue to resolve.

I’ve come to realize that, for me, anyway, ”The things which we fear the most in life have already happened to us.” (Robin Williams, One Hour Photo)

Another beauty of the unexpected life.

And Dinner Was Served

“Men are like fine wine. They all start out like grapes, and its our job to stomp on them and keep them in the dark until they mature into something you’d like to have dinner with.” (Kathleen Mifsud)

Unless you’re #5 and you start out mature (ie. older) and YOU do the stomping by dumping your fiancee BEFORE dinner! It happened like this…

On that fateful Sunday night, #5 had invited his family to my home for dinner. He arrived early to help with preparations, all of our children were in the basement and we were in my kitchen. Somehow we got on the subject of two children (one of his, one of mine) and we had a disagreement.

“Thus, we see that one of the obvious origins of human disagreement lies in the use of noises for words.” (Algred Korzbyski)

He dug his heels in in defense of his son, I dug my heels in in defense of my son, and things degenerated from there. It got so petty we even argued about the boys’ ages. When I suggested his son was the older child so he should set more of the example, he corrected me, saying his son was just one year older so they were basically the same age. In a burst of maturity I got even more petty by correcting the age difference: “Well, if you’re going to get so specific and picky about it, your son is actually 19 MONTHS older–and two years older in school!” (Wow. 19 months. Two years in school.  That’s a lifetime. Petty, I know.)

Unexpectedly, he stood up and said he would get his son and leave. He had NEVER done that before, by the way. He turned and walked out of the room. I stood there, alone in my kitchen, stunned.

I was dumbfounded.

Leave? Because of a disagreement? When his family was due to arrive any minute? We hadn’t had many disagreements our entire engagement–I think I’ve chronicled all two of them–but he headed to the basement to call his son. For some reason, I followed him.

“You’re just going to leave?” I asked.

He was. He said he was sorry, but that he just couldn’t do it anymore. That maybe the timing was bad. That he’d never planned to get married until his son was 18, but then he’d met me and it had changed everything. However, after all of the time we had spent together and during the course of our long engagement, there were things that hadn’t changed and he didn’t know what else to do–so he was leaving.

I was appalled. “You’re going to leave, without even fighting FOR us?”

Before he could answer, in the pause, the doorbell rang.

His family.

It was like a bad movie.

Too late to leave, #5 expressed his displeasure with a roll of his eyes, muttered, “Oh, CRAP!” and then kicked into performer/entertainer mode. He answered the door with a smile, acted like everything was fine and normal, was friendly to everyone (except me) and prepared to serve dinner. Unfortunately, I’m not an actress.

His brother walked in, took one look at me and asked, “Andrea, are you all right?” To which I lied, “Yes, fine!” He looked at me, puzzled, and asked again, “Are you sure? You look tired or something.” I changed the subject and carried on. Or attempted to, anyway.

Later, as the kids came up for dinner, my high school son walked in, took one look at me and asked, “Mom? Are you all right? What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” I lied.

And dinner was served.

“Here they are, top of the food chain, and dinner is served.” (Jeffrey Jones, “The Devil’s Advocate”)

Smarter Than You

“Girls have an unfair advantage over men: if they can’t get what they want by being smart, they can get it by being dumb.” (Yul Brynner)

Except where preschoolers are concerned, if you happen to be their mother.

My youngest was chatting with me over dinner when out of the blue he said, (and I promise I didn’t say or do anything “dumb” before he shared his observation),”Mom, my teacher is smarter than you.”

“Really? How can you tell?” I asked.

“My teacher knows ALL her ABCs!” he replied. “And can count to 100 and 80…even a thousand!”

“Wow, that IS smart,” I commented. But try as I might, I could not convince him my intelligence level was anywhere close to that of Miss Wendy’s.

The irony of my debate with my youngest regarding my intelligence is that when I was thrust into my unexpected life, I took a lot of heat from many people who insisted I had to have known a Ponzi scheme was taking place because “I was TOO SMART not to have known!”

You can’t see what is intentionally hidden from you through layers of deception and lies carefully crafted for more than a decade. And sometimes, even the brightest of people, can’t see what isn’t right in front of their eyes. Even Andrea Merriman, with all of the intelligence, genius, brilliance and “smarts” I’ve been accused of possessing!

You win some, you lose some, I guess. As evidenced by my unexpected life…and motherhood.

“I am so smart! I am so smart! S-M-R-T! I mean, S-M-A-R-T!” (Dan Castellaneta)

Glimpse…From The Couch

“Have you ever gotten the feeling that you aren’t completely embarrassed yet, but you glimpse tomorrow’s embarrassment?” (Tom Cruise) 

I remember Tom’s couch jumping and the criticism he endured because of it. I just never imagined I’d feel like he had to have felt at some point in my life–publicly humiliated. And then my unexpected life hit.

Not only was I shocked at what was revealed, not only was I scrambling to preserve what I could from the ashes of destruction and create some semblance of a life for me and my children to carry on with, but I was absolutely mortified. I was appalled at the dishonesty and CRIMES that had been perpetrated; I was embarrassed to not only know a criminal but to be married to him; and I was humiliated at having to endure everything so publicly, played out on a national stage.

It was a struggle to reconcile that all of those events were my life.

I couldn’t help but recall the little girl I once was–the little girl who who loved her dolls and looked forward to the day they would become “real” and I would experience motherhood; the little girl who immersed herself in fairy tales for hours on end and had such dreams of a real one in the future for her and everyone else.

I certainly never envisioned the story I got handed. It wasn’t my plan. My plan was for me, and everyone else, to grow up and live happily ever after.

The bottom line? I didn’t want the life that became mine unexpectedly.

And then I thought of my childhood friends: friends with addictions that destroyed their families and their lives; friends who watched their toddlers suffer and eventually die from physical impairments; friends whose parents committed suicide, died of cancer, or were killed in accidents; friends who divorced; friends who never married; friends who wanted children but couldn’t have them; friends betrayed by spouses; friends who died of cancer; friends diagnosed with M.S. and other diseases they live with and endure the effects of on a daily basis; friends who battle health issues and pain all day every day; friends who struggle with employment; friends who lost their homes; friends who suffered financial reverses; the list is endless.

The challenges varied, but almost every childhood friend I knew had been blessed with an unexpected life.

I couldn’t help but wonder what we would all have thought, as children, if we’d been given a glimpse of what was to come. Honestly? I wondered if I would have run at the thought of 2009. I guess it’s a blessing that certain things are unexpected. And that’s when I remembered, not for the first time, a key to living and enduring life and it’s challenges. You have to expect that unexpected things happen. In every life. To every one. So you have to carry on. Every day.

“Not a day passes over the earth, but men and women of no note do great deeds, speak great words and suffer noble sorrows.” (Charles Reade)

Shocking, devastating, heart breaking, hard, unexpected, even embarrassing things. Expected, exhilarating, happy, joyous and wonderful things. But always unexpected. Sometimes they lead to an uncontrollable desire to jump on a couch. Other times, it’s all you can do to get up off the couch and drag yourself forward to face the day.

But the important thing is that you live it and never lose your glimpse of the possibilities contained in tomorrow…if you can just make it through today.

A helpful tip to getting through the day? Don’t forget to utilize your couch if you need to. Regroup on the couch. Then get up off the couch, jump on your couch, sit close to someone you love on your couch (where is Agent M when you need him?), or rearrange your couch. Couches can be helpful in the unexpected life.

“I got up one morning and couldn’t find my socks, so I called Information. She said, “Hello, Information.” I said, “I can’t find my socks.” She said, “They’re behind the couch. And they were!” (Stephen Wright)

I Didn’t

“Now the choice has finally been made, you’ve put the story on the front page and produced the sort of collection of special reports that usually accompanies a major news event, not the announcement of the casting of one tired old film role.” (James Bond)

It was my 4th marriage proposal since becoming single.

It’s the first one I seriously considered.

And unlike Carrie Underwood, who said, “It’s nice to know you have support. Last night I got a marriage proposal. I just laughed,” I didn’t laugh.

I didn’t even throw up.

I cried.

And then I said yes.

I was getting married. To Bachelor #5.

I’d searched high (and low, as documented by some of the men I dated!) for him. And in the end, there were 31 men but there was only one winner. Bachelor #5. Mr. Awesome. The one I said, “Yes,” to; my “yes” man.

“I only have ‘yes’ men around me. Who needs ‘no’ men?” (Mae West)

By the way, his name is Mike. But since I’m pretty sure he doesn’t want anyone to know his name, and for the sake of his anonymity and to honor the stealth in which he won my heart by simply being himself while making me think he was never even remotely interested in me, and because I don’t think we can really call him a “bachelor” anymore, shall we call him…Agent M?

I think James Bond, or Albert Broccoli, would approve. And besides, you should see Agent M in a tuxedo.

As Simple As That

“My mother says I didn’t open my eyes for eight days after I was born, but when I did, the first thing I saw was an engagement ring. I was hooked.” (Elizabeth Taylor)

He’d been telling me for quite awhile he’d marry me tomorrow if I were willing. I had eventually responded by saying, “It’s time.”

I was happy, calm and content–absolutely willing to enjoy that state of being for awhile. When I’d uttered those two words, I hadn’t envisioned moving forward with anything beyond that in the near future. Life had been moving pretty fast for me; I was ready for a “breather!”

However, a few days later while driving down the road, Bachelor #5 threw in the phrase, “And then we’ll go ring shopping if we have time.” If I had been the one driving the car, it would have come to a screeching halt right at that moment. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. The thought of setting foot in a jewelry store and shopping for an engagement ring, at my age, was something I’d never thought of or planned on!

I’m not sure why. I wish I could say I handled it well, but that would be less than truthful. Thankfully, we didn’t get around to it for a few more days. But that didn’t make it any easier for me. I was slightly slower to convert to the idea than, say, Elizabeth Taylor.

But Bachelor #5 didn’t give up. He remained patient and calm through the whole process. (And it WAS a process.)

We entered the first jewelry store together. An innocent young salesman approached. I don’t think he had any idea what he was in for. But neither did I.

I don’t know the typical female response to ring shopping, but I wasn’t sitting down and anxious to look at any rings or try any on, and I certainly wasn’t gushing over anything that sparkled. I’d never gone ring shopping, or looked at diamonds, in my entire life. I didn’t know much.

I was finally persuaded to try on a setting that I didn’t love, but I had to start somewhere to appease Bachelor #5 and the clerk. With the setting on my finger, the clerk dropped an assortment of loose diamonds into the center of it for me to look at. I didn’t know if it was the size of the diamonds or my age (aka. poor eyesight) but I had a hard time seeing the diamonds very well. Everything seemed so small. I said to the clerk, “I’m sorry. But these diamonds all seem so small. I think you’re going to have to show me some diamonds that are at least a karat. Yes, at my age, I think I need at least a karat.”

The salesman replied, “Ma’am, all of the stones I’m showing you are LARGER than a karat; in fact, most of them are close to two karats!” (See? I told you I didn’t know anything.)

I knew then and there I was fighting a battle I couldn’t win because I didn’t even have a clue what the rules were! We left without buying anything. And the only decision I’d arrived at after that ring shopping experience, was that I didn’t want a diamond ring.

I hated ring shopping. The things men “make” women do. Lol.

“Men are like a deck of cards, you need a heart to love ‘em, a diamond to marry ‘em, a club to beat ‘em and a spade to bury ‘em.”

If only it were as simple as that.

How Do You Get Past…The Past?

But I still couldn’t think about love and marriage. I couldn’t begin to process what I thought I might feel, so I just continued to observe.

It was the “laid back” approach I so excel at (the ability to ignore), although, “Too laid back is to be laid out” at times! Here’s what I saw:

Bachelor #5 offered to tend my younger sons so my daughter and I could do something special. When I returned late at night to pick the boys up, Bachelor #5 greeted me calmly at the door with a smile. He had laundry going, he had baked cookies, my middle son was running around playing and was as happy as he could be and my youngest had contentedly fallen asleep. When he woke up the next morning, my youngest son wanted only one thing: Bachelor #5.

Bachelor #5 had all 8 children (he has four, I have four) and their guests to his home for dinner so they could meet. He prepared the entire meal himself, for 14, while tending his granddaughter, my two youngest children and keeping an eye on his youngest son and his friends. I couldn’t believe it when I walked in the door for dinner; the kids were happily playing, he had everything under control, the meal was ready, and he was calm.

The question for me was, could Bachelor #5 REALLY be everything he seemed to be?

I consulted a trusted friend who always had a wise perspective and had given solid counsel many times in the past. She had some great thoughts and advice.

I consulted my sister. She said (more than once), “Andrea, you need to open your eyes and LOOK at this man. He is everything you need. He is everything you’ve ever wanted and you won’t let yourself see it. Marry him or not, but you HAVE to give him credit for being who HE is.” She told me to quit punishing him for the behavior of my former spouse.

She explained, “I think you are afraid, and I don’t blame you. I’ve been so worried about you, afraid you’d never dare love or trust anyone ever again after all you’ve been through. I’m so relieved that you seem to be open to attempting that. But you can’t hold what your first husband did against this man. I think you thought your first husband was so many things, and then he turned out to be none of them, so you won’t even let yourself see what THIS man actually IS.”

I struggled with that, yet I knew my sister was right. I tried to give Bachelor #5 credit for all he appeared to be, but it was not easy.

I didn’t really trust my opinion. Every person I introduced him to received the same plea from me, “Tell me honestly what you think. I HAVE to be missing something. Don’t tell me what you think I want to hear, tell me what terrible thing–fault, flaw, lie, problem–am I not seeing?” (You see, I had missed lies and flaws of epic proportions in my first husband and was terrified to be so blind, and not see such important things that would lead to making that same mistake, again.)

But how do you get past something like that? How do you get past…the past?