It was the fall of 1972. I went with friends to join an amateur choir. The membership was filled many interesting people, most of whom I immediately liked. The purpose of the choir was to provide a place where people of all races could come together and perform music they enjoyed. We performed to other people who wanted to help foster a more accepting racial climate in a city that was being torn apart by racial boundaries and differences. See, even then I was something of a rebel.
The choir was being directed by a short, bald, heavy-set black man with the voice of an angel. He wasn't in any sense handsome. He certainly did NOT represent any man I had ever seen as my prince charming. He did, however, have the most dynamic personality of any person I'd ever met -- before or since. And when he sang, my entire soul vibrated.
He flirted with me. He flirted with every single woman in the choir -- no matter her age, weight, height, race, or looks. I flirted back. He asked if I'd go out with him -- but he never got around to making a date. At Christmas he came to my door at 8:30 at night to get some of the Christmas cookies I told him my mother had baked. Thank God she had already gone to bed. My dad opened the door, saw this huge (but short) very black man on his door steps asking for his daughter and slammed the door in his face. He did call me to come to the door, where upon the man was invited in and ate a cookie and took several home with him.
We continued to flirt all through the winter and into the spring of 1973. The man began to phone me. He claimed he was just too busy to make time to actually go on a date. Finally he set a time to take me bowling. Then he canceled.
Suddenly, it was Holy Week. After choir rehearsal that Wednesday he took a small group of us to a downtown hotel for cocktails and dancing. The funny thing is neither of us drink. He only danced with me. I had eyes only for him. My friends took me aside and warned me, "He's really dangerous, Milly. You can't handle a man with that kind of experience." I laughed and danced closer to him.
My church was sponsoring a beautiful Maundy Thursday service and on the spur of the moment I invited him to come -- never thinking what a sensation my all white church would make of this man. My parents had already left Kansas City for their summer home, so they only heard long distance from a shocked congregation about this date.
He met me at the church. I found him in the foyer, standing all alone, with a gaggle of white folks giving us eyes askance. In the church, as soon as the first hymn was begun, everyone wanted to know who the man with the voice of an angel was. He met nearly the entire congregation following the service and, of course, he was invited back.
That night he took me home and we "made out" on the couch. About 1 a.m. he left for his own home. Two hours later he phoned me, saying he was outside in his van, wanting to see the sun come up with me.
Hubby and I have been together ever since.
At Easter brunch this morning we had a fond reminiscence about our 39 years together. It's not been all strawberries and cream but that Easter 39 years ago changed both our lives for the better. It seems like it was only yesterday . . .