Friday, May 29, 2009

It All Started With Jello

Sometimes, the strangest thing brings a family together. 

Mom and Dave knew each other over the years simply by living in the same small town.  They didn't really "know" each other but they were familiar and said hello in passing.  Fast forward many years and both were single-- Mom in her late 50s, Dave in his late 60s.

On their third date, they decided to get married!  When Mom called to tell me she was marrying Dave, I blurted out "Who the hell is Dave?".  Not a terribly joyful response, I know, but come on-- Three weeks?  Was she crazy?

Our whole family was pretty freaked out.  I have four siblings and let me tell you-- We burned up the phone lines the night we all got the wedding news.  I lived in San Francisco at the time and booked a flight to Ohio the following weekend to check this guy out!

You see, my Mom was a great catch-- Beautiful, successful, independent, a fabulous cook, the works.  I thought for sure she'd hit her head and was suffering from temporary insanity. That was the only logical explanation!  And Dave-- well, he must have swept her off her feet in her compromised state and was really looking for a live-in maid-- not a great love.   

Not on my watch!

When I arrived at the airport, there stood my beaming mother and a sweet looking guy I assumed was Dave.  I hugged Mom warmly to send the message I was "protective" of her. Then, while I was giving him the once-over, Dave gave me a big hug like we were long lost friends.  Oh, so that's the way it's going to be, huh?  We'll see about that.

When we got to the parking lot, Dave put my luggage down and opened our car doors, then, dealt with the bags.  The whole 40 minute drive home, Dave was friendly and chatty and well, I thought--  You gotta love a guy for trying-- but I wasn't buying it. 

Mom didn't move when the car stopped in the driveway and told me to "stay put". Dave hopped out and came around to the passenger side, opened our doors and helped us both out.  Then he carried my very heavy bags up the stairs and placed them in the guest room.  Try as he may, it will take more than a few manners to soften me up.

The next day was Saturday and Mom ran the town's Farmer's Market.  She was up at 4:30AM and I heard a car pull in the drive way shortly thereafter.  It was Dave picking her up!  He would help with set-up and keep Mom company at the Market. I'll admit, 4:30AM is not my favorite time of day so I really thought-- you gotta love a guy for trying.

Around noon I walked down to the Market.  While Mom was busy, I cornered Dave and started firing questions at him-- Who, what, when, where and W H Y my Mother? He was lovely and sweet and gracious and funny and, damn-- really, really nice as he answered my questions. And everyone at the Market knew he was my Mom's boyfriend! Apparently my sibs and I were the last to know.  

Later that night, Dave was cooking a big, meet-the-family-dinner to "officially celebrate" their engagement.   My family is a very loud crowd.  In fact, I suspect you might have heard a sonic boom when we're all in the same place at the same time. Tonight was no exception, except for when we said Grace.

Mom has us hold hands around the dinner table to say Grace before each meal.  The difference this time was that Dave led the prayer.  This was Mom's "territory" and I couldn't believe she was cutting her fave part of the meal loose after less than a month! Yikes, she must have really hit her head something fierce.

As soon as my brother took one bite of Dave's pot roast he was sold and suddenly the guy's new best friend.  My youngest sister caved when she realized the biscuits were from scratch.  

My other two sisters and I were holding our ground and playing 20 Questions with good old Dave.  But he won my oldest sister over when she realized he also had 5 kids of his own, and my middle sister folded with his dog lover comment-- the suckers. But not me!  I was there to defend our Mother's honor and get to the bottom of this guy's motives.

Mom played the whole thing very cool.  I caught her winking a few times at Dave for moral support but she didn't bail him out of any tough questions.  Honestly, Dave was going toe-to-toe with me and again, all I could say was-- you gotta love a guy for trying, but enough was enough!  There simply had to be a "catch".

After clearing the dishes, Dave settled us all back at the table so he could "present" Mom with a special dessert. Ha!  There wasn't a snowball's chance in hell Dave would come up with a perfect dessert for our Mom.   He simply had not been around long enough to know Mom's favorite (and unusual) "dessert" foods-- The things she loves the most but you'd never know unless you spent a LOT of time with her.  Mom will finally come out of her crazy, love-stuck spell!

And then he did it!

Dave walked out of the kitchen with Jello!  Not just any Jello either.  Dave found a recipe that used 1) Jello  2) Cool Whip  3) Cream Cheese and 4) Pretzels.  ALL of Mom's favorite treats! Seriously, if she had her way, Mom would live on these four foods alone and Dave had a recipe that used them all at once-- And it was G O O D !

That night, with our very loud family gathered around Mom's dining table, eating Jello Salad, I knew I really loved Dave for not only trying, but for succeeding at making our Mom happy.  

That dinner was more than 20 years ago.

What brings your family together?
Welcome to The Fifty Factor  -  Joanna


  1. This is so very touching and it is wonderful you are so close to your Mom to have been so protective of her.

    Hopefully you share this with your Mom and Dave....I'm sure they would be touched AND tickled.

  2. I loved this story. How wonderful that your Mom has such a caring and supportive family and how equally wonderful that she found this man who obviously adores her.

    As for what brings our family together ~ my parents. We live close to our parents and keep in constant contact with phone calls and visits and vacations together. Most of the time we vacation together, as a family unit. Today, my parents left for New Mexico to visit a cousin and I miss them terribly already.

  3. I loved this story and I loved the way you told it! So sweet and moving... I'm really impressed by Dave!

  4. What an awesome story!!! So glad I read this! :)

  5. A very warm and touching post. It's amazing how protective we can be of our parents. It seems we think they couldn't make a real decision without our assistance.

    I glad she is happy, and found Dave. He sounds like a man that was raised properly.

  6. That is a great story and I will show it to my father - when you read my latest post you will understand.

    I do love how we become protective of our parents at a point in our lives and that is how it should be.

    Dave sounds like a wonderful man and your mother knew that was the case. Aint love grand? No matter what age?

    I agree with Aleta, I think the parents are what keeps the family unit together most often. I have four siblings all with lots of children and we get together relatively often. My baby sister and her husband and family are moving home from London after 10 years and there will be a big celebration. No jello but lots of outdoor BBQs and Mum's renowned desserts. I bet your mother and Dave would just love this post. Thanks for the inspiration too.

  7. What a lovely (and true!) story, you had me just as skeptical as you were right until the jello dessert! Oh, I love a happy ending!

  8. That is a great story...normally I am not a sucker for love at first sight moments, but I found myself softening for Dave at the end.

    After being to hell and back in my own marriage and stepping up to a situation that I didn't anticipate with my children, you start to appreciate the little things on a grander scale...Jello certainly fits into that "mold" :)

  9. Aw, that's so sweet, a well-told story. And another victory for love at midlife! Your Dave sounds like a gem, and I'll bet he's really fond of you, too. How cool that your families have blended so nicely. My mom has been widowed for several years, and I cannot imagine her finding a new love. Thanks for the smiles.

  10. Great story. Glad your Mom found someone who treats her as nicely as Dave does - this is a good thing, a role model in relationships for thoughtfulness !

  11. What a beautiful post. Thank you for making my day. I hope your mom and Dave are still going strong!

    We had a similiar situation with my mom some 13 years ago. We weren't sure about Jim. Long story short...WE LOVE JIM and wouldn't trade him for anything!

  12. Lovely post..enjoyed reading it and hearing about your family

  13. Thanks everyone for your kind comments. My folks are doing great and still very much in love. Dave just celebrated his 83rd birthday and yes, there was Jello at his party! I've told them both this story many times-- Dave throws his head back and roars with laughter, Mom always says what a "good man" he is. They have a happy life :-) xo

  14. oh this story was lovely. I knew the key to love and happiness was JELLO!

  15. Another great post. What brings my family together is good laughs, great hugs, maturity, patience, and some humble pie!

  16. What a wonderful love story! I really loved this but I hate to say that nothing brings my side of the family together and on Hubby's side, only the death of his parents brought the family together. It's really sad and I wish that we had a large family to get together with but we do have wonderful friends and neighbors so that's nice!
    I'm so glad that your Mom and Dave are still together!! I thought that Hubby and I moved fast. We were married 6 months after meeting! Your Mom and Dave moved faster than we did! :)


  17. What a beautiful story. For both of them to have a second chance and then to succeed is only by Gods' grace. Sounds like you are a very blessed family.
    Thanks for the cute story on Thursday. I am still trying to come up with one that is even part way as good.

  18. My late father-in-law had two great wives, and we will always be especially grateful to his second wife for taking care of him through the crappy years of his Alzheimer's disease.

    Great story....

  19. We love Mom and Dave very much as well. By the way.... the Las Vegas couple are still madly in love with each other. Love you :)

  20. What a sweet story! Dave sounds marvelous..
    as for what brings my family together? Shock and in "I can't BELIEVE he/she DID that!" Naturally, no one ever talks to the person involved. no, we'd rather cluck like a flock of wet hens and pretend to that person that everything's just peachy.

  21. What a gorgeous story! Thanks for sharing.

  22. Lovely story and it just goes to show that the kids should stay out of things that they know nothing about - even if they are thirty odd years old. Parents are old enough and (hopefully) wise enough to know their own minds and anyway, it's THEIR business.

    I've always thought that offspring, although they THINK they know their parents, rarely have a clue about what makes them tick and what REALLY matters to them emotionally when the chips are down. First and foremost, they are always gonna be just Mum or Dad and that's a whole different type of relationship!

    Great post!

  23. I loved every single word you wrote !! what a sweet, touching and beautiful story !!!

  24. Great story!
    I have a pretty huge family spread over many states. There isn't much that brings us ALL together at once, as we all can't really afford to travel much. But when we do get together- it's all about the food. Uncle Kerry's homemade salsa and smoked BBQ, my dad's famous grilled chicken, grandma's delicious turkey, and so on.
    I think it's interesting that it's the food that won everyone over. It's amazing, culturally, what food means and what it does.

  25. Great story!!! Amazing how sometimes the right thing happens just because it is the right thing!

  26. This was a wonderful story that I enjoyed very much. You and your siblings remind me so much of my own children and the way they act when it comes to their mother! Dave sounds like a great guy and I am sure he has made your mother very happy over the years.

  27. I loooove that story! Thanks for sharing. At the beginning before I knew it was 20 years ago...I was! You and your siblings are sister and I WISH our mom would get married: ) She has been single for 20 years now!

  28. That is the best story. There aren't many Dave's left in the world. And your mother was so lucky in finding one. What a keeper. Such a gentlemen and an all around good guy.

  29. LOVE the jello salad. Where's the recipe? Do you think Dave would share?

  30. Bravo Joanna! What a completely spellbinding story. xo

  31. So funny and sweet - what a lovely read!!

  32. I stopped by to say thanks for visiting my blog and being a follower. Glad I did, I really enjoyed this post. Everyone should have a guy that knows their favorite dessert. (And is willing to cook it for them).

  33. Ok, so that toilet post was no fluke...and this one ends on such a sweet note.

    Where the heck have you been hiding??


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