Lucky me on this Valentine's Day

Published: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at 03:47 PM.

And she’s the sister of a onetime North Carolina highway patrolman and former U.S. Army CH-47 helicopter crew chief and Vietnam vet. I’m lucky to have not been arrested for "trespassin’ on sacred ground" from the perspectives of being a Jarhead and, worse, a damn Yankee dating his youngest sister.

Topping off her brother, Arlene’s identical twin sister — "the other half of the yolk" as she calls herself — is very protective of her twin. My bar to pass the twin "acceptability check" was very high indeed.

Third, I was a single father assigned to Marine Corps Air Station New River in Jacksonville, nearly an hour’s drive away along lonely U.S. 17 and U.S. 70 to Arlene’s home in Havelock from my home in Jacksonville. Both of us raising kids by ourselves, a two-hour round trip was a long time to travel to visit each other. "Logistics" didn’t make our courting each other any easier.

And I repeat. I was a single father. With two kids. Little kids. Arlene had to become a mother to them. Not easy.

Finally and maybe most interestingly, when I first came to Eastern North Carolina, I threw away her address and phone number given to me by her best — playing Cupid — friend. I procrastinated months calling Arlene and figured it had been "too long" since her best friend had passed me her phone number. She was sure to be involved with someone else by now. So I discarded her phone number and address.

When later emptying the trash can, the piece of paper with Arlene’s address and phone number missed the paper bag into which I was dumping the trash and fell to the floor. I picked it up and looked at it. At that moment I made the best decision I had ever made. I decided to write her a letter explaining why it had taken me so long to contact her.

So here comes this damn Yankee single father Marine with two little kids in tow and this caring, wonderful, beautiful inside and out, "best in the world" Carolina gal gives me even the time of day? In fact, she gave me the time of day and so much more. She wrote me back. Amazing.

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