Today, Tom & I celebrate 20 years of marriage. Looking forward, 20 years seems like such a long time. Looking back, it’s like the blink of an eye. This is true of almost anything in life…and certainly of death. When we lose a loved one, time flies by and before you know it…they’ve been gone how long?? It seems like yesterday that they were here. Trying to imagine living without them for another 20 years seems impossible.
It seems like yesterday that I was living in mobile home in Clinton Twp (East side of the State) going through a divorce as a single mother of two; spending every other weekend alone, passing my time chatting online in an AOL Chat Room on my daughter’s school computer. I’d been dating online for a little less than a year by that time & I can tell you that even back then, before all the dating sites and before online dating was socially acceptable, people were really good at blurring the line between truth & flat out lies. I was 5’8″, weighed 127 lbs (divorce diet) and measured 36-26-36. The only way you could get a picture of someone back then was to ask for a picture – so I got all kinds of attention until I sent a picture – then the conversations would usually come to an end as I wasn’t exactly beautiful. I’d had my heart ripped out, I’d been lied to and I’d kissed quite a few frogs. I was not in a good place in my life…but I was trying my best to have fun. Then I received yet another private message from yet another guy who was going to tell me what a great guy he was. We chatted for a minute then agreed to exchange pictures. I sent mine expecting him to bail on our conversation. He sent his and I tried to download it but it caused my computer to crash so I told him I’d look at it in the morning and kind of blew him off thinking anyone who was still interested in me after seeing my picture can’t be too much to look at himself. But he was funny & something about him caught my attention. I told him I’d email him in the morning.
The next morning I tried to download his picture again & it worked. And there he was…my dream guy! And he already saw my picture & was interested! Holy cow…I needed to wrap this one up! I immediately fired off an email apologizing for cutting him short the night before & invited him to call me…which he did. On his break. During a frost delay. From a golf tournament. Yup…I was well aware of what I was getting into right from the get-go.
We talked every day for the next week and discovered we had been leading parallel lives. We grew up about 11 miles apart. We both had cottages outside of Gladwin (which was about 165 miles North of where we grew up), that were about 11 miles apart (in fact my parents almost bought a lot where his parents ended up building their cottage). We went to the same community college & he played college golf with my mom’s best friend’s son (the only person on the planet who knew both of us before we were married)! Keep in mind that when I met Tom, he had been living in Grand Rapids for about 10 years already. Given all this information & the fact that this just seemed to be destiny…I decided to drive out & spend the weekend with him. This was totally against my online dating rules & a decision that prompted my friends to warn that he was probably a psycho killer & they were certain they were going to find my head in a Burger King dumpster. His friends (I learned later) told him I was going to take him for everything he had (he owned his own home & had a very good job). Our decision to meet certainly met opposition from both sides.
Fast forward 6 months. We’d been dating long distance very successfully; we spent every other weekend (when I didn’t have the kids) in Grand Rapids and he would come stay with me in Clinton Twp on the other weekends he didn’t have a tournament scheduled for. He’d met the kids and most of my family as well. During a weekend of dog-sitting for my brother at his place in Clarkston, we sat one evening on a dock overlooking Mill Pond when he popped the question, “will you move in with me?” [thought bubble over my head: Um. Yah. I’m a newly divorced mother of 2 with a great job and you want me to just move to Grand Rapids]. I loved this man more than anything…but I wasn’t stupid. I made a case telling him there was no way I was moving my kids 160+ miles away & quitting my perfect job without some sort of commitment! In true Tom Werkmeister fashion, after giving it about 30 seconds of thought, he said, “Okay, do you want to get married then?”
We embarked on our union much the way we’ve made many of our important decisions it seems. With a lot of heart & very little brain. We had been talking about how he’d been to Vegas & I hadn’t and how neither of us wanted a big wedding…when it dawned on us. Let’s get married in Vegas! After a whirlwind year long courtship (6 months of dating followed by a 6 month engagement) we got married at The Little White Chapel with our parents, his brother and my 2 best girlfriends at the time there with us. It was perfect. He was perfect. We were perfect.
I’m sure over the past 20 years, especially the first few while the kids were young & my relationship with my ex was (at times) challenging, he wondered what he’d gotten himself into…who wouldn’t? He took on a family and a responsibility after only 1 year of consideration. I will admit that the first year was a challenge even for me. We both came into this marriage with baggage, but we have a weapon to battle through that is far greater than any challenge we faced; we are not just spouses, we are the bestest of friends (I don’t care that it’s not a word). We truly enjoy each other. We are different in a lot of areas; but we balance each other emotionally and compliment each other’s weaknesses with our respective strengths. He’s made me a better person in so many ways – he taught me to see the good in people instead of picking out their weaknesses and faults. He showed me that you can achieve anything through hard work & perseverance. He demonstrated an unconditional love that I thought was reserved for mothers or fathers. He is simply unwavering in his devotion and commitment to me. To us.
This man I married could not be loved by anyone like I love him. This was and is our love story. I look forward to the next 20 years…and I pray another 20 after that.
I hope you enjoyed our story…if you’re reading this then you’ve probably committed to watching Toms success on the golfcourse. My promise to you is to do everything in my power to make your investment in him worthwhile and to help him see his dreams come true. I have to. He’s made all of mine come true. ❤️