When John finally asked me to be his girlfriend in March 2012, I thought everything would be so much smoother for us from then on. After the last eight months of just friends to quasi dating I was sure things would settle down.
And they did, for a while.
The very first thing he did was to introduce me to his family. John wanted me to meet his Mom. She lived just 25 miles from the little town where I was born, and had never been back to since leaving with my family at age two.
So John decided we should go on an adventure and he took me to Hollister, California and then on to the little canyon where I once lived. My cousin, Ann-Marie Sayers still lives and operates Indian Canyon and it’s there we visited on my mother’s birthday, April 6th.
I had no recollection of Ann-Marie, but from the moment she invited us into her log style home I knew I was with family. We stayed for a bit and chatted about my family and I cherished hearing her warm recollection of my mother.
After our visit we asked her permission to go hiking around the canyon.
We climbed hills and traversed over streams and through trees, and then I stopped for a few moments alone to just breathe in and feel the place. It was magical in so many ways.
After saying goodbye to Ann Marie, with promises to come back soon, we headed to John’s mother’s home.
John’s parents are from Ireland and I remember asking him if his mother had an accent. He laughed and said no, neither of his parents did.
But when I met his white haired mother, with sparkling green eyes that looked so much like John’s, the first words out of her mouth told me otherwise. To John she didn’t have an accent, it was just the way she spoke and what he heard growing up.
She was so kind and inviting and we had a lovely visit together.
Our next stop would be to meet his sister.
It was very important to John that his sister approved of me as he valued her opinion above just about anyone else.
So one sunny day in April we jumped on his big yellow beamer, the one he insisted he wouldn’t let anyone ride, and rode to the East Bay to visit his sister.
That meeting went very well and by the end of April I was invited to join John’s family for Easter dinner, where I met his brother and other sister.
I was welcomed with open arms and everything was going so well between John and me.
On the last Sunday in April, the 29th, we were snuggling up together to fall asleep for the night and just before drifting off to sleep John whispered into my ear, “I love you, Loretta”.
I breathed in his words, smiled and drifted off to sleep.
The next day John left, smiling, to go to his home and take care of business and I left, matching his smile, to go visit my best friend in the East Bay.
Little did I know the circumstances that would unfold later that day would change us forever.