“Have you heard…Coach P is dating the French teacher?” That was the scuttlebutt going around the high school where we both taught. I guess, in a way, you could say we had quite a crowd watching the development of our dating relationship in the spring of 1981. There was no Facebook or You-Tube, but there were 2300 sets of eyes on us five days a week that semester.
What an unlikely match we were. He loved the outdoors and camping as well as coaching football and track. His attire included coaching shorts and tennis shoes. He loved math and science.
I, on the other hand, loved fashion and beautiful clothes, trips that included the beautiful outdoors as seen from the window of a lovely air-conditioned hotel room. I loved French cuisine, music and languages.
The French teacher and Coach P? Would such an unlikely match make it past that spring? Was it simply a wonderful time of the year when match-making becomes the prime goal of teacher friends who thought these two single parents should be introduced? Were we only a source of great student gossip?
Thirty-two years later, what began as an unlikely match turned out to be the perfect catch for both Coach P and the French teacher.
We continued to be the hottest love story on campus through the fall semester. Everyone grew accustomed to seeing “us” which included my two small sons and his boy at football games and track meets.
In between late-night track meets and football practice, a summer trip to France with my students, Coach P and I would talk on the phone till late in the night, get up and teach the following day. We discussed everything we could possibly think of. That is, except for one thing that nearly caused a final chapter in our love story.
It happened the afternoon we went to apply for our marriage license. We were filling out the requested information. I looked over at his form and noticed the date he put down as his birthday.
“Honey,” I said, “You put down the wrong year you were born!” He looked at me, by now used to my very honest opinions and replied, “Sweetheart, I think I know the year I was born!”
“But…that means I am three years older than you!.”
“So, what difference does that make?”
“Well, that means I am marrying a younger man…I just don’t know about that,” I said. I could not believe that in all our months of dating, through hours and hours of learning about one another, that had escaped us. Thankfully, his persuasion that it made no difference to him was enough to convince me to make the right decision.
We married December 12th. We had many witnesses. The story and the school room gossip faded from popularity. “Us” now includes our boys, a daughter-in-law, four grandsons, and one granddaughter as well as thirty-five years of stories and history. The unlikely match remains the perfect catch to this day.
Sharon Patterson, retired educator, career military wife, and leader in women’s ministry, has written inspirational encouragement in various forms from greeting cards to short stories, poetry, and Bible studies for over thirty years. She has authored three books, and is a contributing author for several of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. She and her husband Garry live in Round Rock, Texas. They have three sons and five grandchildren.