Hopefully I can tell this story and do it justice without it getting confusing. I want to tell the back story as we saw it happening on our end but also what was happening on Anthony's end at the same time but that we only found about later. So let's see how well I can do. This will be a long love story....
So this is Eler Beth and Anthony (I won't publish his last name here).
This picture was taken only twelve days after they had decided they considered themselves a "couple."
Anyone still reading my blog from the old days knows my daughter and the type of person she is. She is careful and smart and gives a lot of thought to any decision she makes. She turned twenty-one in January and has never really dated anyone. She has had a few crushes over the years but has let them all die a natural death either because she considered herself too young to do anything about them or because she realized that the object of her crush would NOT make a good mate -- and her self-proclaimed purpose for dating is marriage. Neither Thomas nor I ever dated casually, and Eler Beth feels the same way about it. She is a one-man woman and has stated her intention from way back of only seriously dating the one man she would want to spend the rest of her life with. That seems old-fashioned to many people; I know it does, because at least a dozen of them have told Eler Beth or me so in the past couple of months! So I guess we're just old-fashioned. lol But what's wrong with knowing that you want ONE person and are willing to fight when things get tough (as they will) to keep that one relationship going?
Anyway, over the years Eler Beth and I have discussed dating and marriage, of course. The subject would come up naturally between us when a friend of hers began dating or became engaged or when someone had asked her out. When she was 16 her response to a good friends' romantic woes was, "She's too young to be seriously involved with anyone anyway. She should just get herself a good dog!" She kind of had a plan for herself that she wouldn't even think of dating until she was in her twenties and probably wouldn't want to marry until she was 23 or 24. After all, she is a very busy young lady with lots of hobbies and interests and didn't want to take any chance of not enjoying her single-hood while she could. Well, the best laid plans, and all that -- (She jokingly said that Anthony was not on her schedule for this year!)
But, back to the discussions we've had over the years -- Each time we talked about it -- and I mean every single time over the past three years or so -- she would say to me, "Of all the guys I know at this time, the only one I could ever see myself dating is Anthony Y-- ." And I would have to agree with her. Of all her male friends (and she has always had more male friends than female) at any given time, Anthony was the only one I could see her with and would have no misgivings about. They have known each other for more than seven years, ever since his eldest sister married the son of a friend of ours who was also a friend of Andrew's. Eler Beth actually became good friends with Anthony's other sister, who is a year older than him and Eler Beth, and she used to spend a lot of time with her and their family. But there was never anything but friendship between her and Anthony.
The sister with whom she is good friends married a couple of years ago and moved further away (Anthony's family lives an hour from us), so she and Eler Beth haven't seen a lot of one another for quite some time. But because Anthony is also friends with others of Eler Beth's friends here in Jeffersonville, we would see Anthony several times a year, either when he would come down to visit friends or at parties or get-togethers of one sort or another. Each time they would gravitate to one another, but, again, out of friendship and not in a romantic way. He AND Eler Beth battle social anxiety, but they have always been comfortable with one another. And Eler Beth gets along better in groups of males more so than groups of females, with very few exceptions. They have a lot of interests in common, so it has always been natural for them to hang out together, in their "group" of friends, if that makes sense.
A little over a year ago, though, she admitted to me that she had had what she considered a serious crush on Anthony for quite some time, but was not ready to marry and so didn't want to act on it. Besides, she said, she didn't want to risk losing the friendship. Well, unknown to us at the time, for about the past year Anthony has also been interested in Eler Beth but didn't want to risk losing the friendship and really didn't think she would be interested in him. Besides, he is SO VERY extremely shy. And that brings me to something else. If you met Anthony you would not realize he is shy or has social anxiety. He is SO outgoing, but it is because he MAKES himself be outgoing. He is also a dancer. He has been dancing since he was a little guy, and he is very, very good. (The pic above is from when he was about 14, I think.) Both his sisters danced, and he is good at it and found that it is a very good outlet for his anxiety. He still helps his local dance academy out when they need a male lead, and he volunteers for them, teaching special-needs students.
And Eler Beth, despite battling anxiety and depression since she was twelve, really goes out of her way to be outgoing and meet new people as well. I like that they have that in common.
So there they were, being friends all these years, admiring one another but not daring to even hint at any romantic interest -- until this year. (He told her that he has always thought she was such a cool and interesting person, but that he thought she was too "insanely beautiful" to be interested in him romantically, and she told me she always thought he was such a cool and interesting person but "out of her league." And each is so self-deprecating that when they told each other these things, they were amazed that the other felt that way.)
Some good friends of ours host formal dances every year for the young ones in our congregation and their friends in nearby congregations. Eler Beth has been going since she was fifteen. In going back through photos from those dances I discovered a good many of her and Anthony either dancing together or near one another (or Anthony being goofy). It is still a little strange to me to see pics of them as young as fifteen and then to see them now, all grown up and "smelling of April and May." These are a few pictures from 2013 that show the two of them in close proximity to one another.
So... back in the spring these friends hosted a dance, and Eler Beth almost didn't go. She reasoned that she would be one of the oldest ones there -- it's really more for the younger teens --, that so many of her friends wouldn't be there because they've moved away or gotten married, or whatever. I said it was up to her but that she always ended up having a nice time, and she could always leave early if she wanted. I also reminded her that her cousin, Jordan, would be there and that B-- (her and Anthony's mutual friend) would be there and that "Anthony Y-- will probably be there." She had got a dress and decided on accessories, etc., just in case, but she was literally undecided up until two hours before the dance. But she went.
When she got home I knew "it" had happened. She'd decided! Anthony had asked her for the first slow dance, and she told me later that she knew right then that he was perfect for her and that she was ready. She wanted to ask him to dance again but was afraid that it might "freak him out" and she didn't want to risk losing him as a friend. He told us later that he had tried to get up the courage to ask her for another slow dance all evening but that he really didn't think she was interested in him in that way and that he was afraid it might be "freaky or creepy" to her and he didn't want to risk losing her as a friend. Yeah. They are both just like that! Isn't it amazing?
Anthony spent the night at B's house (whose mother was one of the hostesses of the dance) that night, and we knew we'd see him the next day. I told Thomas my suspicions and suggested that we ask Anthony and B to go to lunch with us. We had already made plans to join some other friends of ours for lunch, and Jordan and her family were joining us as well. So the next day we did just that. Eler Beth actually asked me if we could invite Anthony and B to go to lunch with us, and I told her we'd already decided to do that. She looked at me keenly and said, "You know I like him, right?" And I said, "Yes, I'd kind of figured that out." And she said, "And you're okay with that, right?" And I assured her that I knew she'd always kind of kept Anthony at the back of her mind and that I was perfectly happy with her pursuing Anthony if that was what she wanted; that he was the one crush I knew she had never let die a natural death. She told me that it had suddenly occurred to her that "what if I decided I was ready to date and someone had already snatched him up?" We were to find out later that Anthony had Eler Beth on his mind all that night as well and was trying to figure out how he could spend some time with her the next day. It's a good thing Eler Beth's parents were all ready on the job, isn't it? :)
So the next day we met our friends for lunch. There was a large group of us, and the restaurant wasn't able to put enough tables together so that we could all sit together, so I suggested that the "young adults" (Eler Beth, Anthony, B and Jordan) sit in a booth next to us, and there would be room at the tables for us old folks and the little ones. Anthony was to tell us later that his eyes kept straying to Eler Beth and that he even took "a snapshot of the occasion" unknown to her. We old folks were having a wonderful time catching up, but Jordan wasn't feeling well. Her dad wasn't really ready to leave, so B said he and Anthony could take her home. Well, Eler Beth had some things to do that afternoon before going to work, so I -- ever the helpful intercessor -- asked her if she needed to leave as well, and if she did, would the guys want to drop her off at home, too, since it was on their way to B's house anyway. That suited them just fine.
Then later that afternoon, before she went to work, Eler Beth took Remiel over to B's house so Anthony could meet him, and she stayed and visited for quite a while. I dropped by there to speak to B's mom on my way with Thomas to run an errand, and I was able to observe the two of them for several minutes. I told Thomas later that I was pretty sure each of them was pretty smitten with the other and didn't even know that the other one was feeling the same way. That night Eler Beth told me she was going to be staying in touch with Anthony and would probably go up to Columbus to visit him in the not so distant future.
Beginning that night she texted him once a day, not all day, not long texts, nothing involved, just a hello and maybe talking about something of mutual interest. For example, Anthony likes to mountain bike, which is something that Eler Beth has wanted to do. So she began asking him what kind of bike she should get and how much she should spend and things like that. After a few days she didn't text him at all one day because she was afraid she might be bothering him. That night he texted her. And that night he told her that he'd wanted to tell her, but hadn't because he was so awkward (his words), just how pretty she had looked at the dance. (And yes, I know all this because my daughter tells me these things. lol) She showed me the text and asked if that was an opening. I said that that was most certainly an opening. For the next little while, then, they texted about everything under the sun.
Now, shy my little girl might be, but! -- like her mother and every one of her aunts and her grandmother on my side, once she has made up her mind about something, she goes with it and there is no holding her back. So one Saturday she told me she'd decided to visit Anthony's congregation in Columbus the next day if I didn't mind. She wanted me to go with her, but I was really not feeling well that weekend. I wasn't sure if she'd go by herself, but she did. I told Thomas that night, "Oh, by the way, Eler Beth is going to Columbus' meeting in the morning, if that's okay." "Sure, that's okay." "You know she's not just going to visit other friends up there; she's going to see Anthony." And Thomas said, "Yes, and all I have to say is, 'Phew!'" And he wiped the back of his hand across his forehead. You see, both of us really, REALLY like Anthony, and of any young man she could possibly have fallen for, we were very, VERY glad it was he. (Anthony is smart and funny and sweet, with the same kind of sense of humor as ours. He is quick-witted, with a high IQ, and is a very responsible and conscientious young man. He is a hard worker and has run his father's business for him when his dad had to be out of town for several weeks to care for an ailing parent. He is respectful, down-to-earth, and doesn't have too high of an opinion of himself. I think of him and Eler Beth as equals in so many ways.)
So she went to his meeting that morning; then they went out to lunch together, and then she went to his house and sat and visited with him and his parents for a while. She didn't stay late, as she had to work that night, but not long after she left his house she pulled off the highway and messaged me that she was just going to come right out and ask him out. She texted him something to the effect that she hoped it wasn't too weird, but she figured she'd just come right out and ask him if he'd be interested in going on a date. And he immediately texted back, "Can I call you?" Unknown to us at the time, (but told to us by Anthony at a later time because he and Eler Beth are just so extremely open and communicative with each other and with us) he had called his favorite sister, Eler Beth's friend, right after she had left and told her he was going to ask Eler Beth out but that he was so nervous about it, she (his sister) was going to have to really boost his nerve. He was still talking to her when Eler Beth's text came through. He called her and said, "Yes, I would LOVE to go out with you." (And he still loves telling people that SHE asked HIM out first.)
Now here's where the "old-fashioned" part comes in again. He wanted to come down to ask Thomas' permission. This isn't something that is required. This isn't something that is sexist. This is Anthony being the respectful and mannerly young man that he is. He thinks highly of me and Thomas, and he knew, even then, just as Eler Beth knew, that deciding to date, for the two of them, was more than just "going out" together. And he knew that we would know that as well. So in effect, he wanted assurance that he would be approved of by Eler Beth's parents, and he wanted to show respect to Thomas by asking him personally if he would have no problem with that. Well, I thought that was charming when Eler Beth told me, and I told her not to assure him that Thomas couldn't be more pleased, even though that was the truth, because this was something that obviously meant a lot to Anthony and should be between him and Thomas. So on Tuesday he came down to see us, told Thomas that he and Eler Beth had been talking, and that they'd like to start dating if he had no objection. Thomas put him out of his misery pretty quickly. (Told me later that he had always looked forward to making a young man sweat if he started looking at his daughter, but that he couldn't do that to Anthony.)
So, since then, they have been a couple and getting on like a wildfire. So much has happened. Anthony came to Andrew and Alexandria's wedding with us (pics at left, right, and below), Eler Beth is now an official employee of his family's business, he has showed up on our doorstep with a dozen, long-stemmed roses and two boxes of her favorite candy, he calls me Mamma, he has gone fishing with Thomas and Eler Beth, and Thomas has bought him his own climbing tree stand to use during deer season IF he decides he wants to go hunting with them, his dog, Molly, has fallen in love with Eler Beth and pouts and mopes when Eler Beth leaves their house, and Bryant, Eler Beth's dog, treats Anthony like he has always been one of the family. Andrew has always liked Anthony and thinks he and Eler Beth make a good couple, and after the first time meeting him and observing the two of them together for a while, Alexandria declared that they "mesh well with each other."
Some people, not knowing the whole story, have said that this is very, very sudden and have advised caution and that they take their time, but I have been putting it out there among our acquaintance that it isn't actually as sudden as it might seem, since they've been friends for many years. Seriously, what better foundation for a relationship than to have known and liked one another as friends for years? And thankfully, Anthony's parents adore Eler Beth and are supportive of the couple as well.
Thomas actually proposed to me after we'd been dating only two weeks, so perhaps our view of such a sudden romance is a bit skewed. lol I actually made him wait a month before I gave him an answer, and then we were engaged for 10 months before we got married because I wanted a June wedding, but still! They have already discussed just about everything that can be discussed by a couple contemplating marriage. They are not officially engaged. They do consider themselves engaged. I am pretty sure there will be no announcement until he presents her with a ring, but I expect that at any time now. (He has already got all the pertinent information out of me -- size, favored stone and metal, etc.) And I am so okay with it. I've been asked how I can be so okay with the suddenness of the prospect of losing my cherished daughter, my best friend, probably within the year, and all I can think to say is that it is because it is Eler Beth and because it is Anthony. They are so perfect for one another. They are still amazed with each other and with the whole situation, because in many ways it was sudden. But it is seriously as if they had been waiting for one another.