Many years ago when I was a teenager, my family moved temporarily from Sydney, Australia to England. It had been arranged that I would continue to study for my Australian Higher School Certificate by correspondence. But my parents thought it would be prudent for me to attend the local English secondary school too, just in case our stay was prolonged and I wanted to apply to a British university, instead of coming home for my tertiary studies. I protested: was it really fair to make a girl attend regular school in the day and then study correspondence lessons in the evening? I thought not. But that was before I met Andy at that school I didn’t want to attend.
I found myself at M Secondary School, a school that had recently resulted from the merging of the co-ed comprehensive school with the boys’ grammar school. The boys far out-numbered the girls in the final two years of school. And so Andy probably noticed me long before I noticed him. How could you not notice the only girl in the physics class or chemistry class or…?
One day Andy casually asked, “Have you seen the Rocky Horror Picture Show? No? Well, I’m going to see it on Saturday evening. If you want, you could meet me there…”
I didn’t meet Andy there. So he tried again: “Have you seen The China Syndrome? I’ll meet you at your place and we could go together…”
So we went to the cinema that weekend, and the next Monday morning I found Andy waiting for me outside my home. He’d arrived to carry my enormous and very heavy physics book to school for me. I never had to carry that book again.
I introduced Andy to my family and they approved, and from then on my mother fed a family of six instead of a family of five.
My parents ended up staying longer than planned in England but I could have returned by myself. I’d passed my Higher School Certificate and a place, to study science, was waiting for me at the University of New South Wales. All I had to do was get on a plane. But Australia was half a world away and Andy wasn’t. There really was no decision to be made. I had to stay.
We both went off to two different Welsh universities knowing, that at the completion of our degrees, we would get married. For three years, Andy travelled the hours’ long trip from Cardiff to Aberystwyth every weekend to see me. It was a very long three years.
Then two weeks after we graduated, we were married. On the 24th June 1983, we became man and wife. And two weeks after that, we said goodbye to all our friends and family and we boarded a plane for Sydney. I was coming home. Andy was having the biggest adventure of his life.
I think about life and how we can never quite predict how it will turn out.
Did Andy ever imagine he would meet and marry an Australian? Did he ever think, after living in the same street for the first 21 years of his life, he would emigrate to Australia and leave his family behind? It probably didn’t occur to him, when that plane left English soil all those years ago, he wouldn’t be back.
Did I expect to meet the love of my life at that school I didn’t really want to attend? What if my parents had never planned that trip to England… or hadn’t insisted I went to school?
And then after we were married…
I never expected to become a Catholic or for us to marry again in the Church. We didn’t expect to wander from rental house to rental house for 25 years.. and then buy a dream home of our own. We didn’t know we would suffer grief as babies miscarried and Thomas died as a newborn baby. We didn't realise we'd still be blessed with a beautiful large family. Andy couldn’t have predicted he’d be made redundant after many years in the same job… or go back to university and have a second chance at a career. I didn’t know I’d be homeschooling or writing…
God had many surprises in store for us as we set out to share our lives together, both sorrows and joys. And what is still ahead of us? I don't know but I am certain, whatever happens, there will be love and Love.
I thought Andy and I chose each other. I certainly didn’t ask God to find me the perfect husband. But I wonder… Did God have Andy picked out for me all along? Was He looking after me long before I started to think about Him? I could have made a disastrous mistake but I didn’t. Andy was mine long before I knew it, chosen by God who loves me so much.
Happy Anniversary Andy.