It’s been a couple of weeks now since I returned to Edmonton, and I’m still trying to get used to thinking of myself as a fiancé. Here are the highlights.
I spent two weeks in Nanaimo visiting Debbie (my then-girlfriend, now fiancée). I arrived on her birthday, which was my gift to her, and stayed until a few days after Thanksgiving.
During that time, we talked a lot about our plans, sorted out some minor issues, and generally spent a lot of time in each other’s company. It became clear to both of us that we wanted to spend our remaining years together – at minimum.
We went shopping for an engagement ring, which was a two-day marathon at a mall. I won’t bore you with the details, but we were fortunate (perhaps even blessed?) to find a beautiful solitaire ring (which pleased her) at an unbelievable price (which pleased me).
The ring is being sized right now, so we have a “stunt ring” standing in for it. It’s one of Debbie’s costume jewellery pieces. We were hoping some people might look at it and say, “Well. Hm. It’s – nice, really. I – hmmm,” all the while wondering if that was the actual ring. So far, no-one’s taken the bait.
The last Sunday I was there was Thanksgiving. We were going to go to Debbie’s parents’ house the next day for dinner. Although Debbie knew my proposal was coming (the ring shopping was a bit of a giveaway) she didn’t know where or when. For that matter, neither did I, and I was running out of time.
On the spur of the moment, we decided to take an evening stroll near Pipers Lagoon (click the link for some pictures; you can google for more, there’s no shortage of beautiful ones).
|Pipers Lagoon (right) at low tide, looking back along the path we took. The tree is out of view to your left, and this photo is taken fairly close to where it all happened. (via NanaimoInformation.com)|
The sun had already set by the time we got there, and there was a glow in the west that backlit the houses overlooking the lagoon. The water was mirror-still, and Debbie said that it looked like the reflection was a continuation of the hillside, making it appear that the lagoon’s beach was a cliff overlooking a steep valley.
As we walked towards the point, the stars began to come out. We were surrounded by points of light – the stars, the houses, the lights of other islands and ships. It felt at times like we were floating in space.
We stopped near a tree that Debbie said had been there for decades, and was a favourite spot for wedding photos. The tree was a silhouette against the darkening sky, and it seemed to be holding a handful of stars in its branches. I knew then I would have a hard time finding a better place to propose.
I don’t remember the exact words I said – when I proposed, I wanted it to come directly from my heart and not be memorized – but I do remember talking about how the ocean and the stars were symbols of eternity, and that trees are symbolic of life.
Then I told the English major part of my brain to shut up, and said to Debbie that I could no longer see how my life would be without her in it. I dropped to one knee (fortunately there wasn’t a stone waiting there in the dark) and asked her to marry me.
She said yes. Whew. I was fairly certain of her answer, but all the same, when it comes, the impact is not lessened.
On the way back, in the dark, a few deer scampered across the path in front of us. Maybe they had been witnesses to the proposal and were now heading home to tell the others. Later that night, I repeated the proposal, and put the “stunt ring” on her finger. When I return to Nanaimo, one of the first things I’ll do is to finally make the proposal a third time, with the real ring.
Thanksgiving dinner at Debbie’s parents’ house was wonderful. I had red cabbage for the first time, and fortunately I liked this traditional Danish dish. I felt welcomed into the family, like I had always been a part of it but had just wandered off somewhere for a long time and had returned to catch up.
The day after, we visited Debbie’s parents again. They seemed a bit puzzled that we showed up so soon after the big family gathering, but when they read the a letter I wrote for them, they understood.
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Nielsen,
I haven’t known you for very long, but I feel I already know a lot about you both by getting to know your daughter. She’s told me about you, and I can also see what must be some of your character in her: strong, honest, hard working, good-hearted, and beautiful.
It’s her character, among other things, that has caused me to fall in love with her. I know you both have loved her since she was born, and now I have come to know and love her as well.
It may seem old-fashioned to ask parents for permission to marry their daughter. Perhaps it is. What I would like to ask, then, is if you would give us your blessing to marry, which we would be greatly honoured to receive.
I hope, in the years to come, that we become closer, and that I may be privileged to call you my second mother and father.
Kære Hr. og fru Nielsen,
Jeg har ikke kendt dig i meget lang tid, men jeg føler, jeg allerede ved en masse om dig både ved at få at vide, din datter. Hun har fortalt mig om dig, og jeg kan også se, hvad der må være noget af din karakter i hende: stærk, ærlig, hårdtarbejdende, godhjertet og smuk.
Det er hendes karakter, blandt andet, der har forårsaget mig til at forelske sig i hende. Jeg ved, du både har elsket hende siden hun blev født, og nu har jeg kommet til at kende og elske hende så godt.
Det kan synes gammeldags at bede forældre om lov til at gifte sig med deres datter. Måske er det. Hvad jeg vil gerne spørge, altså hvis du vil give os din velsignelse til at gifte sig, som vi ville være meget beærede over at modtage.
Jeg håber, i de kommende år, at vi bliver tættere, og at jeg kan være heldig at kalde dig min anden mor og far.
(In honour of Debbie’s father Niels’ heritage, I translated the letter into Danish as well. Thank you, Google Translate.) There were wide smiles and tears of joy in the Nielsen household that day, and we received their blessing.
So, when’s the big day? We’re looking at March, in Edmonton, details to come. In the meantime, I’ll be moving to Nanaimo in November, and living in a little “bachelor pad” in Debbie’s house that will serve as a beach-head of sorts for incorporating the rest of my belongings later.
I’m looking forward to spending my first Christmas in many years on the west coast, and celebrating with Debbie the gift that has come into our lives.