“Soon he’ll be there at your side with a sweet bouquet…then he’ll kiss your lips and caress your waiting finger tips and your hearts will fly away…” Tommy Edwards, 1958
July, 12,1960. The day before my seventeenth birthday. Daddy had a store clerk call in sick and asked me to work that afternoon. I was arranging a new order of domestics when I heard footsteps approaching the counter,
“Brenda Starks, I think I still like you.” I froze for a second before turning to face Bob Wilson. “I remembered your dad’s store and hoped to ask where I could find you…I’m actually working as a counselor at camp this summer.”
“I just really can’t…believe.. uh…” I stammered and we both laughed. After a brief conversation, he asked if I could go for a Coke at the drugstore across the street. Business was slow and Daddy let me leave.
We sat over Cokes for the next 2 hours, catching up on our lives since we’d last seen each other. His biggest news– he was transferring to LSU that fall to complete his degree. He asked about my social life. Was I dating anyone special? Actually I was, but who could be more special than Bob Wilson? He asked to drive me home before heading back to camp. Standing in my living room, he said, “You’re just as I imagined you to be…a bit more grown up, though.” He asked if he could call for a date after finishing camp the last of July. Could he? Yes– hadn’t his memory been hovering in the back of my heart forever?
Writing my diary entry that evening, I looked back in my 1958 diary to July. It was only then I realized it had been exactly 2 years and 2 days since the night I’d prayed that fervent prayer. He called for a date the day he returned home from camp.
August 4, 1960. I was a wreck with giddy anticipation. I walked into our backyard to await his arrival and to pray. “Thank you, God…PLEASE just allow me this one special night.”
He was punctual and when I walked in to meet him, he smiled. “You look very pretty tonight.” Mother smiled as she left the room. We drove to a movie 25 miles away. We saw “The Parent Trap” and laughed and whispered together. Toward the end, he reached for my hand.
Back at his car, he leaned in the back seat, “I almost forgot! I hope they’ve not wilted!” He handed me two roses wrapped in a damp paper towel. “These are from our yard. I wanted to give them to you.” We talked more easily during the trip home. It was like camp again. Or back in the drugstore. We talked about his college life… my high school life…everything. We learned we shared a passion for football and for reading. Conversation was just so EASY. We sat awhile in front of my house before I reminded him the long trip would put him home in the early morning.
“Well, I DO want to see you again…a week from tomorrow night?”
I agreed and he walked me to my door. Standing there, he said, “I know you’ll be seeing other guys while I’m in Baton Rouge and I have no right to ask you not to…but you’re so special; I want to see you as often as I can. It’s been worth the wait, hasn’t it?” I nodded.
“Mmmm…I don’t want to go.” Then, he leaned in toward me and for the first time I was kissed on a first date. I did not smell cologne as his face came nearer. Only a very clean, masculine smell I would remember. I closed my eyes…his kiss met mine. His lips were just as warm and soft as I’d imagined them to be…and my heart? It flew away!
We dated for a year and a half before meeting our future spouses, falling in real love, and marrying. Both families ended up in Houston. Years later, a chance meeting caused our paths to cross again. We were both writing books. We encouraged each other in these projects…helped the other edit and reveled in their publication. Throughout the years we’ve shared sadness, gladness and accomplishment. In fact, we corroborated on the epilogue you’re reading now because there are several things we want you to know. We want it understood our friendship is purely platonic. We’ve been blessed with spouses who understand and accept it. We fuss at times–usually when Arkansas plays LSU. GOD DID ANSWER MY PRAYER…in his perfect timing…with a plan that was exact, precise and righteous. In His infinite wisdom, He gave us something a million times better than that for which I prayed…a deep friendship that has spanned nearly six decades. Would you believe we both came up with the same scripture to conclude our story?
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55: 8,9
Brenda Miles is an award-winning columnist and author residing in Hot Springs Village. She welcomes your comments on this piece at [email protected]