Ah, this is one of my favorite stories, and I've saved it for the week of our wedding anniversary.
It starts with an old girlfriend, we'll call her Maggie. I had actually thought about marrying her. In fact, I had gone to Wilson's Jewelers to pick out an engagement ring and put a $200 deposit on a nice one that I saw on sale. But things didn't work out as I had hoped, and Maggie turned me down.
Now as if that wasn't bad enough, when I went back to Wilson's, they told me that since it was a sale ring, they couldn't give me back my money. The best they could do was to give me a store credit slip. The salesperson was very understanding though; she told me that I should buy something for myself with the money. Like maybe a nice watch.
Well, I've always been basically a Timex kind of guy. I really didn't need a $200 watch. So that credit slip just sat in my wallet, mostly forgotten - or at least something that I wanted to forget about.
Then, almost a year later I met the person who would change my life. The person that Maggie told me I would never find, because people like that just didn't exist. The person that I was being totally unrealistic to even look for in the first place. This was Cheryl.
Cheryl and I got along perfectly from the start. Much better than Maggie and I ever did. And in the time that Cheryl and I were getting to know each other, she got to hear a good many "Maggie stories" - including the one about the ring and the credit slip.
It became apparent to us rather quickly that we were going to marry each other. In fact, Cheryl brought it up first, saying that she'd marry me if I asked. I told her to hold that thought, because I intended to. And eventually it became time for us to look for rings.
Not engagement rings. She decided that she didn't need one, and that the money could be put to better use for both of us. No, it was time to look for wedding rings. We went to the mall, and as I was all set to walk into Zale's, I felt a yank on my arm, as Cheryl pulled me in the other direction.
"What's going on?" I asked.
Cheryl replied, "You have $200 sitting over at Wilson's, and you're not going to let it go to waste. Just because Maggie was too stupid to want to use it with you doesn't mean that I am. We're using that money for our rings."
They say that you're always fighting the last war, and that's what I had been doing when I headed to Zale's. In the Maggie universe this would not have happened. According to Maggie you didn't buy the new girlfriend something with money that was originally meant for the old one. But Cheryl was no Maggie. In fact, now we joke that a bad day with her still beats a good day with Maggie.
The word redeem has a number of meanings. It can mean something as simple as to cash something in - like an iTunes gift card. And that day, Cheryl and I redeemed that old, worn out, credit slip in my wallet for two gold wedding rings.
But it can also mean to save or rescue, to make right, to restore to honor. And when Cheryl decided that the credit slip in my wallet was not something that belonged to Maggie, but something that belonged to us, she redeemed it in all the other meanings of the word.
It also proved that she was exactly the right person for me - and has been for the past 21 years.
Happy Anniversary, Cheryl!