Category Archives: gradual love

An International Love Story: Shanika and Anthony

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Just in time for the week leading up until Valentine’s

Day, Shanika and her husband are sharing their love

story. It began while they were interns at a Cleveland

hospital.

They were ‘study buddies’ and took many different late

night ‘breaks’ from the challenge of learning their

physiology, molecular biology and medical training.

They had ‘all nighters’ and clinicals to struggle

through, depending on each other, learning how to work

together as a ‘team.’

Shanika had come from Sri Lanka, while Anthony had

come from the Philippines. His background, parentage

consisted of Filipino-Chinese. Once they shared their

private conversations for a few years of being close

friends, they knew their commonality in the Roman

Catholic church and beliefs. They also knew both their

families held education and traditions as important

values.

They had good friends that also shared these close

values and philosophies. When they would gather to

celebrate good grades or a successful step in their

futures, they always produced a meal that combined

their different cultures. It sounded like a feast

to me!

When Anthony asked Shanika to marry, he had already

met her father and mother. He had travelled with her

to her ‘homeland’ and made the decision on their next

trip there to ask her father for her hand in marriage.

What a lovely tradition and this is sometimes the case

in American weddings, a focus in romantic comedies, too.

They had started to, unconsciously, show preferences

for some of their favorite foods from each of their

families’ recipes.

The couple had also begun to have premarital counseling

with their priest, who would guide them in expressing

their feelings more easily and helping to choose what

were going to be priorities in their home life and

future family. Both Shanika and Anthony agree that

they hope someday to have children.

Melding the two cultures and the varied customs,

meant so much to this couple!

When Shanika’s father ‘gave his blessing,’ they were

much relieved to be over that hurdle!

When their two best friends and marital role models

accepted the role of being their ‘sponsors,’ they were

relieved and thrilled!

International weddings are even more important to have

understanding of each other’s familial and cultural

backgrounds.

Whenever they attended a wedding together in the past

two years, they came home and started to make lists

of what they had taken part in, as guests. They would

discuss and agree which parts of the ceremony and

reception they enjoyed and meant more to them, too.

Both Shanika and Anthony are very considerate and

almost self-effacing people. If you ever met them,

you would not necessarily guess they were both

doctors!

They were told, in their premarital counseling, that

part of searching their backgrounds would help them

discover what would become part of their own personal

traditions.

While some of us may want as a future bride to have:

“Something new, something old, something borrowed,

something blue.”

One important part of the bride’s wardrobe was her

wedding dress reflected her mother’s own choice of a

white sari. This is traditional of Sri Lankan heritage.

Anthony felt an American tuxedo, like the many movie

stars and actors wear, was his desire for ‘appropriate

attire.’ He chose a black tuxedo, a white vest and tie.

They made compromises on the menu but Anthony wanted

to ensure that his family would be pleased, thus the

appetizers included ’empanadas’ served at the reception.

Their eyes and souls were filled with a lovely vision,

while attending an Eastern wedding. They both knew one

element of the ceremony would ‘have to be part of their

own’ wedding!

When they saw the centuries old tradition of something

called, “Cord and Veil Ceremony.” There was excitement

when this caught them, helping the planning to all fall

into place, after that serendipitous attendance of a

close friend’s wedding.

To explain this, while the couple hold hands and are

on their knees in front of the Priest or Father who

is leading the marriage ceremony, the sponsors place

a long, sheer, intricately designed rectangular veil

across the shoulders of both the bride and groom.

This custom is to represent or symbolize, “Purity.”

Then, once the pronouncement of their vows and the

priest has nearly completed the service, they have

a cord, it can be white silk, that is placed over

their heads, this connects them and it signifies

their “New Bond.”

Having gone through the many steps to reach this

special moment, the beauty in the presentation of

this couple was captured on film. Their silhouettes

of their backs on their knees, with the veil across

both their shoulders and the cord loosely laid

around both their necks shows a different kind of

wedding photograph. I could say it compared to

ones where the couple are on their knees up at

the altar, being blessed by their minister or

their priest.

I studied their photograph, their faces looking at

each other, adoringly, and I believe this marriage

will last.

I know their families, coworkers, patients and their

two sponsors will hold them in their prayers.

I think all the ‘work’ it took to get the complete

ceremony, with their giving and taking, their choosing

special parts, and debating which parts to include and

dismiss became a great beginning to how to overcome any

future challenges. They have created the foundation of

a lifelong partnership and their bond of marriage seems

strong.

When the couple entered the reception, they were treated

to Sri Lankan dancers. They were also led into a pathway

to their table, where there were little tea candles.

These candles, flickering and shining, led their way to

the special places they were to sit for the reception

meal.

I imagine this, more than have seen it. I have only

seen the one photograph, taken by a friend of the

family’s.

It is that of the traditional cord and veil positions

of Shanika and Anthony, heads turned towards each other,

their shoulders together, their hearts intertwined in

love.

It could almost bring tears to my eyes, as if they

had been my own children.

Wouldn’t this make a great fairy tale ending?

Two Wrongs Made a “Right”

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I have known Steve for over five years and his wife, Rachel more like

ten years. It is a great match that I thought was made in “Heaven.”

I taught only one year with Rachel before leaving Mt. Gilead, but was

pleased to run into her husband, not having paid atttention to where

he was working, when I started at Advance Auto distribution center.

I noticed Steve’s last name on his name tag, asked if he was married to

Rachel and once we were “connected” through his wife, have had many

nice conversations.  Having heard for the year I knew Rachel, lots about

his studying first to get his “LPN” and then, more recently, to get his “RN”

from OSU. I had heard a little about their marriage in the teacher’s break

room, during lunch, but never heard how and when they had met.

Steve works in the PDQ room and fills E-Commerce orders sometimes,

too. When he was showing me, the week I was heading to my Mom’s

for vacation, pictures of his son, Alexander I thought I would like to

surprise Steve and Rachel with a “baby” name picture of his now one

year old. Steve was telling me about his son and how he reacted to the

zoo animals recently. I made a mental note to pay attention to the

details of this little one, otherwise know as “Xander.”

Steve told me since going to the zoo,

“Xander growls like a lion now, frequently when he used to shriek

while mad! We have decided to dress him up for Halloween as a lion!”

While at my Mom’s I worked on “Alexander” and “Dondria.” (Darryl’s

newborn daughter) their name pictures. Darryl had mentioned his

wife likes the cats at the zoo, so Dondria has a cheetah, tiger, and

two tall giraffes, with a teddy bear on her name, Alexander has a

big lion, two little stuffed giraffes and an elephant in his picture.

When I got back to work today, I headed to my boss’ office, greeting

her by saying, “I said ‘goodbye’ to Mom and crie; I don’t know if it was

more due to leaving her or having to come back and work here!”

Katrina laughed! I asked her if it was o.k. to leave the two pen and ink

with watercolor pictures for the two men, Darryl and Steve in her

office. She suggested putting them in the next office over, with her

clerk in charge of them. Katrina was going to help us fill orders today.

Anyway, when I saw Steve he was heading to break and picked up

the name picture. He “oohed” and “aahhed” then sat down to eat

his breakfast snack with me. I had my granola bar and iced tea. I

asked Steve, “How is Rachel doing? Is she loving her new school?”

Steve started to tell me about her new school, then backtracked

to show me Xander walking up to a house to “growl” and his Dad

“interpreted” by saying, “He’s saying ‘trick or treat’ and as he

received the candy, Xander growled again, so his Dad (Steve) said,

“He says ‘thank you.'”

The short video of this whole episode at the front door of a nice

house with pumpkins, Xander, holding his Dad’s hand and the

translations was so sweet! I told him, “You are teaching him very

good manners and believe it or not, this year will fly by, soon he

will at age 2 maybe say the words himself NEXT Halloween!”

Steve smiled, then sighed, “I am frustrated, graduated in May, (’13)

and still working here!”

I agreed and told him what I had told Katrina. He said, “Hey, be

careful, she may really think you don’t want to work here!”

I chuckled, “But I don’t!”

Then Steve started to tell me his love story in only 12 minutes. So,

this is a “speed dating,” “speed relatioship,” and finally a “speed

marriage!” Really the love story evolved over ten years covering

this year.

“Robin, remember when you told me your brothers’ rules for

dating? Rachel and I broke every one of them!”

Here is the rest of the story…

Steve was persuaded by a friend in 2003 to go to a Halloween

costume party. He went as a “bum” or “hobo.” I had not shaved

nor did I think I had taken a bath or shower in over 3 days. I was

a “mess.” When he got there, he saw an angel, someone all in

white, he saw her face, it was beautiful in his eyes. He walked

past Rachel, not thinking of her as any kind of possibility. Steve

had just been through a break up and he did not want to be in

any kind of relationship.

Rachel (Steve’s version of her story) was looking around, kind of

helplessly, since she was told by her sister to meet her at an

address, she did know one other person, upon arrival. Rachel

was dressed as a Victorian woman with a high lacy collar and

upon being asked, had planned on saying she was a “spirit

who was not allowed to drink spirits, due to Prohibition.”

Steve paused and said, “Really, that is what she had cooked up,

wasn’t that a smart woman?” Knowing Rachel as a goofy, fun

loving preschool teacher with her Master’s in Early Intervention,

(Special Education age 3 to grade 3) I could not imagine her

wearing such a straight laced outfit! It made me laugh!

“You’re not kidding, are you?”

Rachel had worn our only year we both taught at the same

school, a big pumpkin costume with her face painted orange

and her facial features blackened into three triangles (nose

and two eyes) and a jagged smile for her mouth. She had

waddled around with that huge thing, meant for someone

over five foot two inches tall!

Anyway, Steve said, at some point he collapsed on the sofa,

with a beer in one hand and a couple of pizza slices stacked

up on top of each other. When she sat down with a graceful

landing, she had a Diet Coke can in her hand. He told me

today, “I really did not even consider this woman my future

anything! She didn’t even freaking drink alcohol!”

(Side note: Later he found out, that was all part of her tea-

totaler role and that she had a big shot of Rum in her can!)

When she started to talk, Steve thought, “This woman hasn’t

a clue on how to be cool!”

Steve admitted that Rachel did not have any interest whatsoever

in him either!

“So, how did you end up together?”

Steve said, “We ended up together at the end of the night still on

that sofa, having told each other about both our recent break-ups

and we were deciding to be friends. I exchanged telephone numbers

with her, we said we would be there to listen whenever the other one

needed us.”

“After a year of actually being friends and sometimes we shared the

benefits of attraction, sometimes not, our family expected us to

bring the other one,” Steve continued.

“On the other hand, our friends, especially Rachel’s, could not see

the point, I mean, they kept asking why we were ‘wasting time’ with

each other. You have to know, I had not been very good at working

on my LPN classes, probably was still just acting like a dumb kid,

thinking, ‘I am working at Advance Auto D.C. so what’s the big deal

about getting my degrees?'”

I asked Steve if this sounded okay for the summary, so far, of his

relationship with Rachel. “Your family loved Rachel, they had hope

and patience. Her family liked you, they had patience and love, too.

Your friends were trying to get you to venture out and let go of each

other. After all, you were each other’s ‘rebound’ person and should

have been moving on by now.”

Steve nodded, “Exactly!”

Rachel’s girlfriends had found her a date and wanted her to go out

with a man named Dave. She confided in her “best” friend, Steve,

and also he made me snicker at this revelation she had told him

something like this:

“I knew my friends were right, we weren’t going anywhere, but I just

didn’t want to shave and put my nylons on!”

Steve said, “That made me a little hurt! Here I had thought the reason

she didn’t get dressed up was because she was a ‘natural woman.’ It

made me sit up and say, ‘Hey, what am I? Chopped liver?'”

Rachel repeated a line they had told each other awhile back:

“No expectations means no disappointments!”

Steve said, “My line had always been:

‘This is me! Take it or leave it!'”

Steve stopped and again looked a little sad, “I had let those words work

against us. I had treated her like an old shoe. I knew it and I knew she

had not made any effort to fix herself up when we went out to eat or to

the movies. She wore jeans and a holey sweatshirt. Sometimes she even

wore sweat pants! We still would have ‘relations’ or ‘benefits’ but we

had gotten complacent and lazy!'”

“Guess what I did?” Steve exclaimed excitedly.

“I guess that you decided to give her some roses,” I replied.

“No! I asked her out for a real date where she would have to shave

and get fixed up.”

“She looked at me like I was crazy!” Steve said, he worried

then, maybe she truly didn’t see any potential in him.

Steve explained to her that they had “used each other” and

had “taken each other for granted.”

Rachel admitted to him,

“We complained all the time about our exes, never really looking at

each other or trying to make ourselves work things out.”

Steve said that after they started dating, things fell into place. They

already had learned each other’s feelings, favorite foods, and how

each other wanted to be treated.

Steve explained, “We had already found out what didn’t work out

with our last relationships. We had unconsciously stopped doing

things that irritated each other.

They had become “one” in some ways. By treating each other as dates,

the attraction “doubled” and they were more intensely interested in

finding out things like how many children each wished for and which

kind of church they might attend.

They decided one year after dating, two years after meeting at that

fortuitous Halloween party, to get married. It was not a proposal.

It was a decision made together.

Steve and Rachel went to jewelry stores, chose rings and started to

tell people they were engaged. Their parents started the process

of making wedding plans, her mother especially excited to help with

the plans.

“Both families were ecstatic,” Steve said, “My Dad said, ‘FINALLY!'”

Steve would like to let those lonely hearts out there know:

“When people don’t want to be treated like an old shoe, they need

to step up their game!”

I would like to say, “If the shoe fits, wear it!”