VALENTINE'S DAY ESSAY CONTEST WINNERS
Letters and cards fill a ``box of precious memories'' for DiAnne Evans, who won third place in The Herald's Valentine's Day contest. Mrs. Evans; her husband, Patrick; and son, Russell, look at the correspondence from faraway places where Evans was stationed in the military. (Jean Angelo/Herald)
Friendship makes even the bad times bearableDiAnne Evans, Sharpsville, writing about her husband Patrick
OURS was perhaps not love at first sight, but being a romantic at heart, I cannot help believing that our meeting was destiny. Due to an encounter with a lawn mower, I had to use a wheelchair for several months of my fourth grade year. I chose my husband, along with several other fellow students, to push me. There must be something about a woman in a wheelchair, because Patrick swears that it was then that he first fell in love with me. Personally, I think it was just because I was the only girl he knew with her own set or wheels.
Alas, the love must have faded as we continued through our school days ... our first date was not until I was a freshman at Westminster College and he was home on leave from the Marine Corps. We only managed to see each other about once a month, but the time we spent together made up for the time we spent apart. Thousands of letters turned a flame into a fire that still today has seen us through many difficult times. Even now, during those troublesome times, I find myself turning back to that box of precious memories. There is where I find the reasons I first fell in love with my husband.
A year and a half later, we found ourselves married and living in Hayward, Calif., which is about 35 miles south of San Francisco. I believe married life can be a challenge even for the most enduring relationships. However, Dr. John Gray (author of ``Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus'') should have added a whole separate chapter for military couples. Our first couple of years in California as husband and wife were a bit shaky I must admit (and it wasn't just the Loma Prieta earthquake that we were unfortunate enough to experience). However, two years later, we not only celebrated my husband's survival of the Gulf War, we also celebrated the birth of our son Russell. Those two blessings made up for the hardships we would encounter later that year from our car being stolen twice within a four-month period. (I guess the thieves out in California haven't heard of that endorsement for ``The Club,'' hey Mr. Winner?)
July 4, 1992, we flew out of Los Angelas International airport bound for Okinawa, Japan. The three years we spent on Okinawa were probably the best and most trying years of our marriage. We loved Okinawa, but the separation from our family and friends made it very difficult (especially when Patrick was deployed to one place or another). It was there that my husband and I really learned the value of our relationship. Often times, all we had were each other and much of that was via AT&T and the U.S. Postal Service. My husband has been out of the Marine Corps for five months after spending nearly 11 years in. Adversity has strengthened our bond, love has carried us through, but friendship is what makes my husband still call me at work in the middle of the day just to say hello. I could write pages about our love story, but I have to be at Denny's in 15 minutes. I have a breakfast date with destiny ... and his name is Patrick.