Those were the days when the Internet was young, new and exciting. This new idea of online personal ads seemed like an interesting concept, so I gave it a try. What would it hurt if I tried this new option in dating while things get sorted out? I wasn't looking for anything serious after having been in a couple screwy relationships. So I did. I answered an ad for a young women who, as the ad said, lived in Canton, OH. Canton wasn't that far from where I was living in Kent, so why not. Well, that young women replied. We got to talking over email and that led to phone calls and eventually to meet.
(Sidenote: She lied. She put Canton on there to be general about her location. She lived much further south. Had she not lied, I probably would have passed).
It was a beautiful Friday night, April 25, 1997, when I made the drive down to New Philadelphia from where I was employed near Cleveland. At the time the drive seemed like it took forever. We arranged to meet at the mall near where she lived. We went to dinner, talked, laughed and pretty much feel for each other that night. We weren't looking for that but ended up finding it. An answered prayer. And Klingons. There were Klingons at Denny's when we stopped later that night. They were from the Star Trek convention at the hotel that was across the street. A couple days later, I met Alex for the first time and Denise's mother. I don't know what was scarier. When you date a person with a child, your not just dating the person. You're also dating the child. Sounds weird I know, but go with me on this. For most normal people with their head on straight, you have to realize that if the relationship is going to work at all it must work on all levels. Alex needed to accept me as well. But, I got to a point in our courtship where I got scared. Who am I to step in and be an influence on this boys life when I don't have my own crap together? Was I ready to be a father? I almost ended it, but, we didn't. Lots of talk and tears were involved there. It wasn't too much longer after that when I was leaving to go somewhere when Alex said, "Bye, Dad". No prompting. No anyone telling him to say it. He did it on his own.
Well, the rest as you say is history. Denise and I were married on Saturday, April 25, 1998. Alex was my honorary best man. I asked the Monsignor to do me a favor at the wedding. When it came to the, "I would like to introduce..." part at the end of the wedding, I asked him to say, "I would now like to introduce Mr. and Mrs. Donaldson and son." He did. Alex joined us and we all walked down the isle together. It was a proud moment for me. (And more Klingons again! When we passed that same hotel, there were out and heard the horns honking. I may have even gotten a K'plah!) Even prouder came later that year when I adopted Alex and he took my name. Then in June of the next year, my little peanut Molly was born.
Since then, it's not always been easy. Anyone who says they have a perfect relationship is just plain wrong. Nobody does. But we try. We are each others best friend. We can sit there and make crude jokes to one another and laugh. Lots and lots of laughter. For 16 years and hopefully for many, many more, she has been my wife.
Denise, you made me the person I have become today. You've made me want to make myself a better person, husband and father. You've been my muse for many things. You're the inspiration behind me launching my business. I can never truly put into words what you, Alex and Molly mean to me. I just hope that I show it through my actions.
Happy Anniversary, darlin. I love you.