Well...I had a mishap and I'm not so happy about it. I had written this beautiful "Love Story" about how my husband and I met and all of the lovely, cute little stories surrounding it and suddenly "POOF"---it was gone~ Yes...ALL GONE in the blink of an eye~ What is it with this new laptop of mine? I spend so much time writing (you'd think I'd realize by now that I should actually "save" stuff every now and then before it "poof's" out on me!) and then to have it suddenly disappear before my very eyes, is very disheartening to say the least. So here I am, once again braving the computer world to tell my story of love, romance and my soul-mate, Craig M. Stewart!
It was 1996 and my daughter Jessica was in a horrible state because she had who she considered to be the "mean" teacher of 4th grade and none of her friends were in that class. I didn't tell her at that point that I had actually requested that specific teacher because the PTO moms told me she was the best "fit" for my daughter. I didn't know any different so I wanted what was best, right? WRONG! It backfired greatly as the first 6 weeks of 4th grade, Jessica cried and cried and hated going to school for the first time ever! I went to the principal and asked if she could be moved to "Mr. Stewart's" class because it would be a better fit for her and because she was not happy. The principal said that she didn't have any openings for any more children in his class but if it changed in the near future, she would let me know. So guess what this "loving" mother did? Yup...I ran down the hallway after school yelling out "Mr. Stewart!! Mr. Stewart!! At a teacher, a man that I didn't know and I was looking like one of "those" mothers, I'm sure!!!
I got Mr. Stewart to stop as he was walking to his car and I asked him if by any chance, could my daughter, Jessica be moved into his classroom? I told him that the principal had said he didn't have any room in his class for another child, but I wanted to double check with him anways. He told me that I was actually "in luck" because a student was moving to India at the end of the week and then he would have a spot for my daughter. Jessica and I were so excited and eccstatic! Mr. Stewart went to speak with the principal and by the next week, my Jessy was happy in school once again! If I hadn't made that bold move on that Fall day in 1996, I would not have ever actually "met" my husband, Craig Stewart. Destiny is a funny thing, isn't it? Chance meetings and happenings that can change our whole world!
Jessica fit nicely into his classroom, her friends were in there and she did very well. I did my usual "thing" of traveling on Fridays to the different classrooms and teaching children about Deaf people, sign language and the TTY machines that they used to use to communicate instead of a telephone. I also taught a Sign Language "club" after school on Fridays. I would teach the 4th and 5th graders who wanted to be in this club, some songs in ASL or "American Sign Language" and we would practice for most of the year and then put on a show for the parents and the school near the end of the year! It was so much fun and the kids were so excited to be involved in a "club" and to be learning something new and exciting. I even had special T-shirts made for the kids and they read "Eriksson Elementary School...Silent Impressions Sign Language Club". Oh we had so much fun! I taught them Sign Language to: "Any Dream Will Do" from "Joseph" the Broadway play, "You've Got A Friend" from "Toy Story", "Colors of The Wind" from Disney's Pochahontas, and much more! I do have video's of those shows that we put on for the school and parents, but they are on VHS right now. I'm in the process of trying to copy some of the VHS to DVD and when I do that I will put up one of the shows to share with you here. Ok...so back to Craig and me...We got somewhat familiar with each other because he walked through that Gymnasium after school daily and on Fridays he'd see me with my 35 children doing Sign Language to music. Sometimes he would stand and watch for a few moments.
Then one day all the children had gone home and I suppose Craig had been doing extra work after school. He walked through the gym a bit later as I was packing up my music etc. to go home with my two girls. We talked a bit until one of us said (neither one of us can remember who said it first! Neither will admit to being "the one" to initiate everything between us...LOL...it's become quite the joke now after all of these years!) "since both of our birthdays are in February, why don't we go out for a coffee or something to celebrate both of them together?" We said "YES"!!! We made our first date in or about March while Jessica was in his class, but we didn't tell anyone due to the "PTO moms" and the way gossip gets around like wildfire at the school. We wouldn't have wanted that for my children or for Craig, so we just met for dinner.
I drove myself to the restaurant and he met me there. My parents watched my girls for me and said that I had to be home by 10pm on this, a Saturday night..but beggars can't be choosers when it comes to babysitting offers and I did not have much money for those things.
I pulled up to the parking lot in my car and Craig was standing outside of the retsaurant in Ann Arbor, Michigan called "Mediterrano". We had decided to meet there, have a nice quiet dinner and just talk, chit chat and see if we could become acquainted. Neither of us were looking for a "marriage partner" and we made sure to tell each other that first thing!
I must say that when I drove up to the parking lot of the restaurant, he looked so very handsome. He had a leather type of coat with brown collar and navy blue and it sort of looked like a "Varsity jacket" but it was such a nice coat. He had on Kahki pants and "Dockers" shoes. His hair was jet black with a beard and moustache that just enhanced his already stunning looks and "prince-like" attributes. He met me at my car and walked me into the restaurant passing by the Hostess stand! I was worried when he said to the Hostess "We'll just seat ourselves, thanks"! Oh my gosh...did he just walk by her and tell her we'd seat ourselves? People don't do that, do they? Were we going to get in trouble ?? Could they kick us out? NOPE...he and the hostess had planned to shock me and make me feel aghast that he would be so forward!! It worked because for a moment there, I was worried. Quickly, I laughed it off and thought of how romantic he was because at the little table that he had "picked" for us (as he'd arrived first just to do this for me) was a little "Happy Birthday" gift book with a big red bow on it! That was very thoughtful of him and I told him! His birthday was the 5th of the month and mine the 24th, and we were into March so I guess mine was closer so I didn't have to feel guilty about not having one for him. Besides, I had no idea that he was going to do such a cute thing!
I remember that night as if it was today. What we wore and what we ordered and the fun of talking with a real intelligent adult human being again! It was wonderful and the food was really delicious too! I had a chicken ka-bob on a bed of rice and I still remember how good it was to this day! Mostly it was probably the company that I was with that made everything so wonderful, that's what I'm thinking.
We finished dinner and decided that we sort of liked being around each other and could tell that feelings were mutual so we darted off to a little coffee shop around the corner. We sat with our Mochaccino and Chai latte'. We talked the hours away in no time at all. It was suddenly almost 10pm and I HAD to get back because with my parents babysitting, I just knew I had to be on time or they would not be happy with me at all. I told Craig that I had to go due to the babysitting arrangements and he drove me back to my car. I was thinking that I would just give him a little "peck" on the cheek because that is appropriate for a first date, right? Especially one where my daughters future is at stake ! She was still in class and we really should have waited until the Summer when school was out. But... we had only met for dinner and together decided that we'd just talk on the telly for a few months. Since we had a good first date, we discussed going out on a date again in June, after Jessica was out of his class!
Did I tell you that on the very first date, I was in his car when it was time to say "goodnight"? I was just going to give him a "peck on the cheek". Well, let me tell you this...THAT was the BEST first kiss that I've ever had in my whole entire life! I wasn't going to do it! I was not going to kiss him like that! But something came over me and I just kissed him how I felt like kissing him! He kissed me too!! Then the sparks flew from that moment on !!! I honestly will NEVER forget that first kiss. If I had been standing up, it definitely would have been one of those "leg popping" kisses that you see in the movies~YES...I have gotten to actually experience that in my lifetime and I will never ever forget that kiss.
I was so flustered about the wonderful kiss and my mind was reeling and somehow I missed the exit while driving home and ended up at the airport instead! I knew my parents were most likely calling the Police or something. Not because they were particularly "worried" about me but because they needed the kids to be picked up so they could go to bed! ha ha...
I ended up at the airport and missed my exit off of the highway. I didn't have a cell phone "way back then" so I had to just turn my car around and try to figure out my way back to my parents house. I had finally made it but was about 45 minutes late and they were pretty upset! My dad had gone through all of the "Stewart's" in the telephone book in the area, and called them all until he finally found Craig who picked up the phone to a man asking if he was "Mr Stewart"? (I was never so embarassed in my life!!) Craig then told my father to have me call him when I got home because then he was truly worried about me. When I finally arrived at my parents home they were very glad to see me and hear about the date. I told them that I'd had a good time but couldn't talk much, right then, because we hadn't told the girls that I met Jessy's teacher for dinner. She may have been upset about it while she was still in his class. We decided to wait and then to "date" after school got out!
The first time my girls got into Craig's car so all of us could go out to dinner together, it was all very exciting. They couldn't stop repeating over and over,"Oh my gosh, I feel so cool! I'm in "Mr. Stewart's" car"...It was really cute! They were so happy and excited that I was going dating "Mr. Stewart". I was also very happy. Then we decided to meet his children!
My favorite restaurant has always been 'Olga's Kitchen," so all of us decided to meet together for lunch on a Saturday. On the way to meeting him, my poor little Amy (who by the way, had on a white "cover alls" short outfit) got a bad nose bleed! She was bleeding all over her "WHITE" outfit! OH NO!! What was I going to do now? I was driving anxiously looking for a fast food restaurant or gas station to get a rag and some cold water, quickly! We stopped at a Wendy's and I asked the employees for a rag. I needed a wet and cold rag for my daughters bloody nose. You would have thought that I had asked them for something that they'd never heard of before! They finally came across some wet napkins and I took the girls to the restroom and tried to get Amy's nose to first stop bleeding and then get it off of her the best I could. She wasn't happy about the blood stains on her white outfit and since she was 8, I didn't bring extra clothing with me anymore!
We arrived at Olga's in one piece and I gave Amy a sweater in the restaurant to help cover the blood stains! We walked up and I remember seeing him sit there with his handsome son, Ryan and his beautiful blonde daughter , Jenna who acted demure and a bit shy when she really isn't at all! LOL...lol...
After that it seemed as though everyone got along pretty well and Jenna seemed to want me to be her best friend ! She invited me to come to her middle school and introduced me to her friends and teachers and when she got nail polish on the floor of her new bedroom, she was worried that her dad would be really mad and I helped her to clean it up and we decided it would just stay "our secret". Later on, I did tell Craig about it but he and I both decided that it was good that she trusted me and asked me for help and we would just keep it "our little secret".
The year after that we bought a house right down the street from the apartments where I had lived with my girls for almost 5 years, as a single parent. I didn't want them to be uprooted and move to another school and different friends because they'd just done that a few years earlier and they liked their school and friends. Craigs kids were older and had always gone to the same schools so they could choose to come with us and start anew or stay at their moms and go to the same school and see us on weekends etc. Ryan chose to stay and live with us and go to school in Plymouth,MI as he was starting the 10th grade. Jenna was on "Flag" team and had alot of friends in middle school so she decided to live at her moms and come with us on the weekends. We had one extra room for Ryan and we built on another room for Jenna and we let her pick out the kind of walls she wanted, carpet and colors. My girls got the rooms upstairs and each had their own room again, finally! They were excited and since they were younger, they had to be closer to us. It all seemed to work out great. We even went on a "family" vacation to Niagara Falls, CA and we had a great time except for a few little ideocincrisies!
We were a family! We were in love and our kids got along well! How much more perfect does that get? Craig wanted to get married asap and I was a bit more sheepish about getting married right away. I teased him and said "If you set it up at the Wedding Chapel for Valentines day....I'll be there and we'll get married on my favorite day of the year (other than Christmas!)". Guess what ??? He did it!! He set up a minister, I got a pretty red dress and shoes. We ordered some flowers; red roses for me, corsage's for the girls and a lapel rose for Craig and his son. My two daughters wore black velvet dresses and so did Craig's daughter. My daughters walked me down the aisle arm in arm; one on each side of me, to the Paul Brandt song "I Do". As I walked up the aisle I saw my "prince" standing there in his suit with the red rose on his collar. Standing on his side was both of his children looking as beautiful and handsome as my two little ones were. They were all four gleaming, gorgeous and seemed truly happy to be becoming a family of six! We had only our best man and matron of honor there as our witnesses. They were were Jessy's friends parents, and also they were our dear friends! We also invited two other families that we were very close to. We didn't tell our families because we didn't want to hear anyone complaining or trying to step in and do things or pay for things or not want to do anything, so we just left it to fate and we married then and explained later! It was a beautiful little ceremony and before hand in the ladies restroom, we girls had a fun time primping and fixing our dresses and our hair etc. Our luncheon afterwards was at a restaurant called "Rose's" and it was perfect because this was Valentines day 1997 and I was wearing red and carried a bouquet of red roses! Everything was perfect and wonderful! Our matron, actually, of honor and her husband, the best man; watched my kids overnight so Craig and I could at least have a one night "honeymoon" at the Embassy Suites Hotel. We walked around the nearby mall to walk a bit and he bought me a gold heart bracelet and matching ring as a wedding gift afterwards!! He is so sweet, kind, thoughtful and romantic...always a romantic and still to this day is that way!
We went back to the wedding chapel on the way home the next day and took a few more pictures so we'd have some casual shots. Then we went to pick up the girls at our friends house, talked about the wedding a little and then proceeded to get things ready for the next day, which was a Sunday. We were having our parents over to tell them that we were "already married"! We had decided that when they walked into the apartment, we would start playing the song "Going to the Chapel...and We're Gonna get married"...as the parents entered! It didn't go very well. His mom was angry that she wasn't invited and so was his father. To this day they are still angry that they weren't invited to his 3rd wedding!! MY goodness, they got to see him get married two times already! We just didn't want anyone involved and wanted to plan it all ourselves. Our own ideas without any interference. My mother on the other hand, said "Hey, cool...we don't have to pay for anything now or even buy a gift!" My dad did tear up a bit, I think it was due to the lack of control because something had been done "behind his back" and he didn't know about it ahead of time. He doesn't like that one bit! They did get us a nice gift though; and they were the only ones outside of our guests who actually gave us a wedding gift! They gave us a blanket "throw" for the couch that was embroidered with a little quote about "two lives together...." and our names "Craig & Suzanne Stewart 2-14-1997" . It is still on our couch to this day and is still the only wedding gift we ever received from any family members!
Oddly enough, we had to live apart for the first 6 months! Craig had a house to sell and I had an apartment that was leased until July 31st 1997! We bought a house just down the street from the apartments, where I had lived with my daughters for about four or five years! It was bought in March after we were married and then we couldn't move in until August 1997 due to the family that lived there needing to stay until that time and our families having the house to sell and the lease to keep. Now who ever does it that way these days??? Who ever gets married and lives apart for the first 6 months and then moves into a house together after that? ha ha ha...We did it backwards, but we're still here, still in love after 14 years of marriage!
The best part is that we are truly, madly and deeply in love still after 14 years. We can finish one another's thoughts and we can feel what the other one is feeling. My heart aches when I know he's sad. I can only imagine how he must feel when he see's me in my worst pain of the RSD.
So...move up time to today, February 22, 2011. Who would have thought we would have gone through all that we've gone through? I guess no one ever thinks like that but still.....I never thought we'd go through so much loss and grieving; but still our love grows stronger each day. I think it's because our personalities compliment each other. I usually know what to NOT say and when to NOT say it; while also knowing that I can pretty much talk about anything with Craig. He is the most understanding, caring, kind, loving non-abusive person that I've ever had the pleasure to live with and share my life with.
Somehow I think Destiny put us together by Jessy getting put into his class that year. Both of my girls adored him and Amy still sees him as the only true "father" figure she's ever known. I see him as the only real "MAN" that I've ever truly loved and connected with in the same earthly and spiritual connection. I hope and pray that we have many more years and decades together because he told me that he is going to "live to be 105 yrs old"! I tell him the same thing that Christopher Robin said to Pooh bear: "If you live to be 100 years old, then I want to live to be 100 minus one; so I will never have to live a day without you"! That, my friends is where this story ends for today...but each new day is a story in and of itself. I will continue to keep hope and love alive in my heart and do my best to portray that in my daily life.
In my life there has been so much abuse, hurt, pain, loss and sadness. In my heart and into the depths of my soul there is sadness and grief about some things and circumstances that I truly am unable to change. But with my "Prince", my husband, my Craig at my side; all things can become tolerable and life can be good again. It may not have turned out the way I had hoped it would with my own family and my oldest daughter. But my life isn't over yet and forever is a long time. I will stand side by side with my loving husband, my best friend and together we will live life and try to continue to get through the hard times and still find a way to have fun and live life while we wait side by side and hand in hand for "LIFE" to just keep happening for us and with us.
See you soon!
|Craig and me at Christmas time in the evening after the "party"|
|the two of us at a church function "all dressed up".... :) <3|
|New Years Eve 2009, all dressed up and "dancing" til the ball "dropped"!|
|Having fun after eating dinner out with our Friends from Scotland!|
|The Love & Prince of my Life and me, Suzanne B. Stewart (2009)|