I move to Utah in late June of 2000. After a week or so, I had secured myself a full time job at a local bank, and was moved in to my aunt and uncle's spare bedroom. Joe lived about half an hour away. He worked a part time night job, and was a full time student, so I wasn't able to see him much- only on the weekends, really. But it was good to be able to spend more time with him! We spent a lot of time on the phone during the week. I was introduced to all of his siblings, and their families, and I got to know them all a lot better. Within a few months we KNEW we were ready to make the next step.
During our months of online dating, we had plenty of opportunity to discuss many things. One of those discussions was on how talented my family is in the wedding department. My mother makes wedding cakes, my aunt is a seamstress and makes wedding dresses, my other aunt owned a party supply store and had an eye for floral arrangements, and most importantly to Joe- my uncle (who lived a mere hour from Joe) was a jeweler...
Sometime in late July or early August, we made a trip down to Provo to visit Joe's sister ( a most uncomfortable trip on the back of his motorcycle might I add!). While we were there we stopped by my uncle's jewelry shop. Joe and I perused my uncle's ring selection, and lemme tell ya- there were HUNDREDS to choose from! My uncle makes custom jewelry, so he had many MANY molds for me to look at. I remember choosing a bunch of different ring styles, then I excused myself to go visit with my aunt, leaving Joe with the final choice and leaving me with some semblance of a surprise at not knowing which ring he would choose for me. From there, I knew it would be a while for my ring to be finished, so I knew not to expect the proposal anytime soon.
A few weeks later, I called Joe on a Friday to ask what our plans were to be that weekend. Joe and I made plans for Saturday, but he told me he wasn't able to come see me on Sunday due to plans he had made. I asked what his plans were (sheer curiosity, people) and he said, "Oh, it's a service project for church." I left it at that and went about my typical Friday evening. Later that night, I talked to my mom and happened to mention how bummed I was to not be able to see Joe on Sunday because of his service project... I then asked her what kind of service project he would do on a Sunday... that's SUPPOSED to be a day of rest in the church. My mom (quick thinker that she is) said, "Oh! Well maybe he is taking the sacrament to elderly people in the ward who can't make it to church!" Well that made perfect sense to me, especially since Joe was currently living in a ward CHALK FULL of elderly people. So Saturday rolls around and Joe and I have a very enjoyable day. At one point I asked Joe what kind of a service project he had
the next day and he said offhandedly, "Oh, I am taking the sacrament to the elderly in the ward." I completely and totally believed him... (Seems my mom and him were in cahoots...) Before he dropped me off that night, he asked for my mom's phone number. Now even though this might have raised many a red flag for most people, it wasn't a big deal to me since my mom had been emailing Joe almost as long as I had been. She talked with him regularly, and I knew it, so to have him call her wasn't a big deal. I handed over my mom's phone number and all was well.
The next day, after dinner, I gave Joe a call. I talked to him about my day, he told me about his. I asked how the service project went, he gave me some pretty convincing details about it, and we made to get off the phone. Just before I hung up I said, "Oh, how long did you talk to my mom today?" His reply- "Oh, about the time it takes to drive from my house to Provo..."
... ... ... "Um..."
(At this point, Joe knew he totally blew it. The ONLY people he knew in Provo were his sister and my jeweler uncle. AND his sister was out of town!)
I said, "Soooo... what were you doing in Provo?" I swear I could hear crickets, before Joe said, "I am proposing on Saturday okay?!" And with that he hung up the phone. The poor guy! He had tried so hard to surprise me, and had come SO CLOSE! But then he tripped up on an unexpected question. To hear him tell the story, is agonizing. He had planned and schemed so long with my mom. He had come up with not just a fake service project, but DETAILS of the project to throw me off... He knows the kind of person I am (was- I am better now) and knew I knew he had the ring. Since we had plans midweek, and he wasn't proposing then, he told me when so I wouldn't be upset when it didn't happen the next time I saw him...
Saturday, Joe, in all his sweet glory spent all day taking me all over the valley reenacting many of our earlier dates... we went to Marie Calendars for lunch (our first date), he took me miniature golfing (many dates since then), and we sat in the parking lot talking for hours like we used to when he would pick me up from work in CA... He eventually drove up to the Bountiful Temple, and dropped down on one knee. I was all sorts of smitten, until I realized he had proposed with a keyring. I was so angry I hit him square in the chest with his keys, and he attempted to laugh (and catch his breath) while he pulled the real ring out of his pocket. I can honestly say, I didn't remember ever choosing the ring style he put on my finger, but I absolutely LOVED my ring! Almost as much as I loved my guy!
Stay tuned for Installment 6: The Beginning of a New Chapter