A couple of years ago, I was driving down Highway 34 on a hot, muggy, typical Nebraska summer evening.
The van was filled with dirty dishes from a catering job and sitting next to me, in the passenger seat, was my longtime co-worker/employee/friend/sort-of-little-sister/sort-of-pseudo-daughter, Bob.
Now, her name isn’t really Bob . . . when she first started working for my husband many years ago, for some reason no one could ever remember her real name, Lorinda. So one night, she said everyone should just call her Bob.
And we have ever since.
So Bob and I cruised between Aurora and Bradshaw, in our catering uniforms amongst the smell of ranch dressing and what had been cheesesteaks in the back.
Bob seemed down. She wasn’t being her enthusiastic self. When asked what was going on, a conversation ensued.
Bob was a young single mom, working two jobs to pay the bills. She has a wonderful family and a great circle of friends. But something was missing.
She was just missing that special love from that one special person who up to that point had been invisible.
Bob was in the end stages of a relationship at that time and was sad, even though she knew that situation wasn’t one she needed to be in.
We talked about how she had stayed for too long, because she hoped maybe love and respect would be the result, although it wasn’t.
She also knew she couldn’t have a relationship with a man unless he was able to commit to both her and her little boy, while building a real future and a family.
Just as we were driving through Bradshaw, the song, “When It’s Love” by Van Halen came from the radio. I instinctively cranked it up and yelled at Bob to listen to every word.
Of course, she’d never heard the song because she wasn’t even alive back in 1988 when the song was unleashed to the world.
I yelled over the blaring music, explaining to her that this song was one of my favorites of all time – it was released the year I realized I was desperately in love with the guy who became my husband.
I belted out the words, “How do you know when it’s love? I can’t tell you but it lasts forever. Oh! How does it feel with it’s love? It’s just something you feel together. When it’s love. You look at every face in a crowd, some shine and some keep you guessing, waiting for someone to come into focus, teach you your final love lesson. When nothing’s missing . . . We’ll make it last forever . . .”
Van Halen lead singer, Sammy Hagar, and I sang our hearts out to Bob, to convince her that yes -- real, lasting love can and does happen.
Suddenly, I had this feeling come over me and I turned down the rock ballad. We were going past Klute Inc. right at that point.
“Bob, you are going to find the right person, the real person, the one you are supposed to be with, not just tolerate,” I told her as she laughed because I was acting like a crazy person. “I’m not kidding! I feel like he’s right here already, he’s nearby, you just haven’t met him yet. I’m not kidding!”
I even had goosebumps as I proclaimed the love of Bob’s life was already in our midst – we just didn’t know who he was yet.
“And you will meet him when you are supposed to!” I proclaimed, cranking up the volume so we could enjoy the end of “When It’s Love.”
Time passed by and Bob was content in her life.
I don’t remember exactly when, but we started hearing some rumblings that maybe Bob had met a nice young man. When she came to work one Saturday afternoon, we had no choice but to interrogate her to the full extent – because we are a family and that’s what families do. She was actually shy about answering the questions – which is rare for Bob because she’s typically quite forthcoming with the details of her life.
What we got out of her was that yes, she met a guy; he was one of her son’s coaches at little kids’ wrestling, “so it probably wasn’t anything more than him being nice to one of the moms.”
Yes, they had spoken a couple of times and I guess even “hung out” a little bit.
“I really like him,” she said, almost nervously and oddly evasive. “That’s all I’m going to say right now.”
A few weeks later, a friend of hers (who also works with us) provided me information that Bob and the “wrestling guy” had gone on a few dates, and her son loved him.
When I finally got to question Bob alone, pleading for details, she said yes, they were sort of dating. But she didn’t want to call it anything yet . . . he seemed to be too good to be true.
A little time went on and one day, Bob said they were a couple. It was time for him to meet me and my husband, I insisted, to see if he passed the test.
The day we met him, he was introduced as Dallas. He made eye contact with my husband and firmly shook his hand – something a past boyfriend had woefully neglected to do. He passed the test with flying colors as he was engaging, funny, thoughtful, respectful, gentle and manly all at the same time.
We chatted about his past, where he came from, how he moved to York County for work . . .
What kind of work does he do, I asked (because inquisitions are what I master).
When he said he worked at Klute Inc., I suddenly had a flashback of that day Bob and I talked about lasting love and sang with Van Halen, right before I proclaimed I had a feeling the right guy was “already nearby, you just haven’t met him yet,” right as we drove past his place of work.
It was fantastically ironic and fabulously coincidental, don’t you think?
Their lives melded into one and they eventually became an official couple. He loved her child, respected her, they loved each other, they were a team in everyday life and best friends.
Time passed by and we started calling Dallas a nickname – Tex, of course – and it just stuck. He, too, became part of our wonderfully dysfunctional, dynamic, awesome work family.
Last year, right before the pandemic started, Tex secretly told me he had purchased an engagement ring and was trying to decide when to give it to Bob. His big eyes twinkled as we hashed out when would be the perfect time.
But then the pandemic began and the family gatherings he had been envisioning, during which he’d pop the question, could no longer happen.
He decided to wait until gatherings were once again allowed.
Then, during the pandemic, as many people were looking for things in life to celebrate, Bob and Tex walked into our business one night where her son excitedly took off his jacket to show my husband his new shirt – which proclaimed he was going to be a big brother! An incredible surprise had come their way and they were so excited! I don’t think I could have hugged either Bob or Tex any harder. And I couldn’t help but whisper in her ear, “See, I told you.”
Tex still secretly had that diamond ring hidden away – now he wanted to wait some more before giving it to her because he didn’t want her to think he was only asking because they had a baby on the way. I begged him to put me out of my misery and put the ring on Bob’s finger because I couldn’t stand the anticipation – he just grinned at me because I was acting crazy per usual.
Eventually, Tex asked. Bob accepted.
They had a beautiful baby boy join that other special little boy in their lives.
We cater weddings every single weekend, we’ve seen every version of nuptials known to mankind. And each Saturday, I say to Bob, right between the wedding party exiting the party bus and our opening the buffet line, “Pretty soon, you get to be the bride.”
As I write this, tears are in my eyes because I’m so happy we get to witness Bob and Tex standing at the altar in just a few days. This coming Saturday, they will take the plunge and their “happy ever after/life journey/triumphs and challenges/rich and poor/sickness and health/never to part” will officially begin.
I’m channeling my inner Sammy Hagar and Van Halen as I sing/write those lyrics: “Everybody’s looking for something, something to fill in the holes. We think lot but don’t talk much about it, ‘til things get out of control. How do I know when it’s love? I can’t tell you but it lasts forever. How does it feel when it’s love? It’s just something you feel together.”