Story 28 :: Engagement

I was now convinced more than ever that I needed to ask Karen to marry me. So, I arranged for a time when I could meet alone with Karen’s parents. We decided on a morning that Karen was away from the house. I went over and presented my case for her hand in marriage. Karen’s dad was tough on me – the typical toughness a dad would bring to any fellow suitor.

  • Can you provide for her? I don’t have a job. But, we got love?!  
  • She is used to living in this two story house with a basement. You have to provide that for her. Yikes! How about a two bedroom apartment?
  • Are you a virgin? My daughter is pure. Wow. Um. Yes, I am. 

After a series of brutal questions, I finally got the answer I wanted. “Yes, we give you our blessing to married Karen.”

I breathed a sigh of relief and made it out as quickly as possible before they changed their minds.

Now begins the crazy planning. How do I propose?

First, the ring. I went to Guven’s by the Mall of Georgia and found a princess cut diamond that I knew Karen was wanting. So, I made sure it had all the acceptable C’s and used the remaining cash I had as an unemployed, traveling minister. I think I spent about $1,300 for a half a caret.

Second, the proposal. If you know me you know I love grand gestures and that if social media was around I would have been doing my best to have the best proposal ever seen on the media platforms. It is the year 2001 and no social media, I am going to have to take some good pictures and find a guy with a video camera.

Now, I knew the proposal needed music. I began writing an instrumental and composing it – putting my very best Jim Brickman / Michael W. Smith flare to it. I simply named it Opus. I know I needed a bit more creativity, but that’s all I had.

So, after planning and planning. I thought I had the perfect day setup. Here is how it played out.

It was a Friday afternoon, shortly after lunch. I arrived at the school Karen was student teaching at.

A few days prior, I sent a note to the teacher and informed the teacher that I was proposing to Karen and wanted permission to pick her up early from school. She gracious gave me the favor.

I surprised Karen in her classroom with a dozen roses and informed her that I had received permission for her to leave early. We went to her car where I surprised her with a box of several envelopes. Each envelope provided a personal poem that gave a clue to the next thing we were going to do. This particular clue sent us to spend the afternoon at Vine’s Botanical Garden in Snellville. We spent the afternoon walking among the flowers chatting about our future together. It was our first time for each of us being there and it was incredibly beautiful. I presented another envelope which informed her that it was time to go home and get ready for dinner. So, I drove her home and dropped her off to get ready.

During this time, I drove over to Little Gardens in Lilburn and made a reservation for Karen and I. I gave them a dozen roses for the table and told them of the big plans for the evening. I then got myself ready for the evening and picked Karen up. We arrived at Little Gardens and she was surprised by the extra flowers and thoughtfulness of everything. We have a wonderful dinner and escaped to the grounds to walk among the flowers and swing on one of the porch swings. We talked about our future again and just enjoyed the time.

Then, I presented her another envelope to open. It was a poem that led us on a trip to the place where I first told her I loved her. We drove to the old Atlanta Falcon practice facility where I had Alex (my best man) place a dozen roses and another envelope at the foot of one of the football filed-goals. It was another wonderful surprise and we chatted about our love and the moment we shared the words of it with each other.

The new envelope had a poem that talked about where we spent a good bit of our alone time. It was Rhodes Jordan Park. There was a bench that overlooked the lake and we would spend many of our dating night chatting overlooking that pond. There was one particular bench where we had a conversation and we drove to that bench. She went to the bench and looked for the next envelope. When she opened the envelope, it talked about our song and our future. Then, the last line said, “Now, listen to the music.” At that moment, I had phoned my friend as a cue to start playing music. Alex was across the pond in a pavilion with a loud speaker. It began playing, “When you say Nothing at All.”

We drove to the other side and Alex had my keyboard, and the entire area setup for the main event. When we arrived I told her I wrote a song for her. I cued the computer and slow danced with her. Then, I grabbed a bowl of flower petals. I had her begin to pull out the petals as I began to tell her all the reason I love her. She was doing this rather quickly and was grabbing handfuls of petals. Suddenly, she heard a clank as the ring ricocheted off the bottom of the bowl. She started to gleefully spin. I got down on one knee, so nervous and so at a lost of words that I grabbed the wrong hand and asked her to marry me. She graciously gave me the correct hand and said yes. We kissed. We enjoyed the moment. We are grateful Alex was there to video the whole thing. We packed up and drove to share the good news with each of our parents.