On December 31, 1977, I was halfway through my first year in law school at the University of Michigan, and single again after an early first marriage that hadn't worked out. A friend, who had taken a couple of anthropology classes from me at Oakland University, invited me to his house for a small New Year's Eve party.
I got there early and we were chatting when he said, "Uh-oh, Terry, I just realized that everyone who is coming tonight is a couple. There won't be any single women." I told him I didn't mind, but he thought for a bit and said that a couple of teenage boys from a family where he was a family friend, and with whom he and I had been camping, had an older sister who might come over. "She's too young for you," he said, "but at least you'll have someone to talk with"
I was 30, you see, and the girl he was talking about, Sheila Marie Doran, was only 19. Luckily for me, she and her regular boyfriend were on the outs. When she arrived, I was instantly in love, scrambling for the words and common sense not to do anything that would exacerbate our age difference. It was a nice party. We played a drinking game called "Thumper," and everyone else had way too much to drink, so she had to call her mom and say that she would be staying there overnight, as her ride was drunk. (Lucky me!)
We sat up and talked all through the night, while more than a dozen people passed out or slept on the floors around us. The following weekend, her friends took us downhill skiing, which I had never done before. (My instant nickname was "Mad Dog," and you only had to watch one launch to understand why!) We went to Blue Mountain in Ontario, and on the way back everyone else in the party found places to stay (very bad weather) and not travel, but I drove my 1972 Buick Riviera through tunnels of snow in a real blizzard to get her home, not wanting her mom to have a reason besides the age different to dislike me.
We were soon dating weekly, even though she went to Wayne State University and lived at home in St. Clair Shores, over an hour's drive away. The following year, she transferred to the University of Michigan and by the fall of 1979 we were living together in a house we called the "Pink Lady," because it was painted pink and, of the seven inhabitants, I was the only male.
We were married on May 14, 1983, and honeymooned later that summer in the Canadian Rockies. We now have three grown children: Ruth, Ben, and Abby. I celebrate our anniversary, though, on December 31 each year, as I consider that as the date on which our lives permanently merged. I once told her mother that "Sheila is the kind of person who is simply going to get better and better looking as she gets older." I was right.
But not only does she get better looking, she just gets better. Who could ask for more than a very smart, very nice, hard-working, good-looking, disc-golfing (Am Masters World Champ in 2002) partner in life? Consider me thirty years into good fortune!