After reading Pioneer Woman and Heaven is Here, I realized something I’d already knew about myself—I really enjoy a well-written love story. I’ve been working on writing my own love story with all the intriguing details and heartwarming discoveries. I fell in love all over again with my man.
My mom is working on her own biography and asked if I’d help her write her story. Imagine spending time with your mom while she shares the most interesting details of her life? It's been fascinating. It didn’t take long until she was sharing memories of how she met my dad. This wasn’t the 10-minute story I heard growing up. This was full of details, some of which she hadn’t thought of for years. This is how my parents met and it doesn’t take long to see they were falling in love.
Well into her second semester, my mom Sarah was enjoying school at Utah State, happily living with girlfriends near campus and working part-time in the Foreign Student’s Office.
One Sunday in April, she was asked to give a short talk in church. She did not know him yet, but my dad Brent was in attendance. He was intrigued and cleverly learned her name from the program.
The next afternoon she was walking towards home from her last class when someone called her name, “Sarah….” She looked to the source and saw a guy across the street in a white car, “Sarah, would you like a ride home?” he inquired.
She promptly looked straight ahead and continued walking. She was well trained…no good southern girl was going to talk to strangers, let alone accept a ride from one.
“Sarah…may I give you a ride?” he persisted.
She could not believe it. Who was this guy? Couldn’t he take a hint? She looked straight ahead and doubled her speed.
By this time several students were watching the scene with some amusement.
Suddenly she was startled by a white blur at her side. The stranger had actually made a U-turn and was creeping along next to her. What was she going to do? A third time she heard that obnoxious voice even louder, “Sarah…may I give you a ride home?”
The curious crowd of students was growing. This was getting embarrassing. Sarah whirled around toward the car with her most potent “Back off, Turkey!” look…and realized she’d seen the guy at church. He had caught her eye on more then one occasion because he was older, maybe around 28, and she had heard he was a graduate student.
With the obnoxious persistence he’d already manifested, she figured the only way to shut him up was to cooperate. So Sarah swallowed her southern pride and climbed into the front seat with the cute stranger.
With embarrassment, she noticed that some of the students high-fived each other.
And she realized the cute stranger had gorgeous dark wavy hair.
“Hi. My name is Brent,” he said as he extended his hand. She shook his hand and he continued, “I know your name is Sarah from the church program. I enjoyed your talk in Sunday School.”
“Thanks.” she mumbled, withdrawing her hand…still not sure what sh’d gotten herself into.
“Which way home?” asked Mr. Persistent.
She gave directions to her nearby apartment and within about two minutes they pulled into her parking lot overlooking Cache Valley.
An Unexpected Conversation
In his white Mercury Meteor they sat in the front seat of the car. Sarah was still apprehensive about what she was doing here. As a child, she was told to sit on the porch while the neighborhood kids played ball in the street. Because of her mother’s overprotective nature, she was never allowed to join them. Sarah had accepted this view of life; to play it safe and follow all the rules, but here she was, sitting with a man in a car in broad daylight, a man that she had not been properly introduced to—the Southern way.
But Sarah was 20 years old now, over 2,000 miles away from her parent’s home and willing to try this, although she did keep her hand on the door handle of his car, knowing at any second a single twist of the handle would propel her to open the door and run if necessary.
“Where are you from?” Brent asked.
“Tennessee,” she replied.
“Well, I guessed you were somewhere from the south because of your accent.”
“I’ve been trying to tone that down so people can understand me, but it’s not easy,” she said, a bit embarrassed. Her southern accent had been somewhat of a plague for her since arriving in Utah. In Tennessee, Sarah spoke like everyone else and dressed like everyone else. In Utah, she stood out just by the way she said “Hello.” A few cruel people had asked “You’re from Tennessee? Do people wear shoes there? Does your dad make moonshine?” She wanted to drop her Tennessee image and she needed to drop it fast.
“I am a senior studying elementary education. What about you?” Sarah said, enunciating her words with the effort of a spinster English teacher.
“I’m a graduate student working on my Ph.D as a psychologist.”
“That’s interesting,” she said, making a mental note to look up the word psychologist in the dictionary when she was safe inside her apartment.
“I enjoyed your talk in church. Something happened while you were speaking. I saw a light, a very bright golden light around your head and shoulders. I have never seen anything like that before in my life,” Brent said.
“Really,” she said. Either this was the best pick-up line she’d ever heard or Brent was telling the truth. He continued to speak about the experience with much sincerity. Sarah understood God could manifest things in many different ways and if Brent had seen her spiritual aura, then he must understand spiritual things like her.
What started out as a conversation about school and weather, turned into something more. He told her he recently returned from a 2 ½ year service mission in Mexico. He loved the people, serving the poorest of the poor. Adjusting to life back in the United States had been difficult because he had wanted to stay longer in Mexico.
Sarah told him how she felt God had a plan for her, how she had meet the missionaries and here she was now in Utah. She told Brent the miracles in her life, how with no money she was now a full-time student, how with no job she was now employed with student faculty.
Brent shared with her while on his mission he had prayed with a poor widow who later shared with him that during the prayer she opened her eyes and saw an angel standing between him and his companion. This fascinated Sarah. She whole-heartedly believed it. Before she knew it, they were talking about the unseen world, heaven and angels. Time stood still. Instantly, she had a spiritual bond with this man. She looked out the car window and her heart soared as she marveled at the personal experiences they’d just shared.
As a southern girl, one never over extends her time with anyone. Sarah was very aware that their time together should come to a close and understood a gracious exit was in order, so she finally turned the handle of the car door, quickly thinking of an excuse as to why she needed to leave so fast.
Impressing him with her culinary skills, she had an idea.
“I’m making dinner for my roommates, (which was actually Kraft macaroni and cheese) and need to get inside to bowl water.”
“Bowl water?” Brent said with a twinkle in his eye. “What’s that?”
“Well, I’m making dinner and need to start with bowled water,” and she was trapped again in her world of thick Southern drawl. Looking into his dark brown eyes, she couldn’t stay focused on her determination to sound like she’d lived in Utah her entire life.
“Do you mean boil?” Brent asked and she knew he was teasing. Her southern grace was quickly dissolving like sugar in bowled, I mean boiled water.
As she shut the door and started walking up the stairs to her apartment, she suddenly knew why Brent had taken an interest in her. She was his new case study and he would probably write his dissertation about the strange girl from the hills of Tennessee, her unusual language and her quirky mannerisms.