At the end of the day, it’s all about the love. And I for one am a major lover of romance novels, my favorite recreational reading. Some love stories are tender and sweet, some are hard-won, others are rolling-on-the-floor funny. And of course, they all have a happily-ever-after (or HEA) for the couples. With every author whose work I read in this genre, the first question that comes to my mind is, “What road will the couple travel to reach their HEA?” After that, I fasten my seat belt for the journey.
When it comes to writing my romance novels, I love the quote from the late E. Lynn Harris: “Write the books you want to read.” Of course, they are about Black male couples, with my own particular flavor. For those who are also writing these stories, more power to you. They need to be told.
June, of course, is Pride Month. This month has significance to me on a personal note, since last Friday was my wedding anniversary. Online, I have seen photos of Black male couples and some during their weddings, which is a welcome change. It’s also great to see such men as they raise their children together. What I wish to add to the mix are representations of brothas of a certain age, those of us seasoned individuals whose marriages have stood the test of time. That being said, I would like to share my story of the road to an HEA.
Eleven years ago, I was a single father with an 8-year-old son. It was imperative to set a positive, authentic example for him as an LGBT man of color, hence by that time he knew. The dating game at 56 is somewhat different than it was at 26, especially when one has a child. In prayer, I examined what I had to bring to the table as well as the qualities I looked for in a spouse. Not that I needed someone to complete me–God already took care of that. Someone who adds to the happiness I already had–that was the ticket. Shortly afterwards, my son came up to me and said, “Daddy, I’m going to find you a husband.” What can one say to that?
Interestingly enough, my little matchmaker did play a pivotal role in the events. Almost a year later, after church service ended, I walked downstairs to Fellowship Hall–and there he was. That moment when you lay eyes on your soulmate, and you know that you know that you know. As it turned out, he had seen my son before he saw me, but hadn’t made the connection.
From there, it was introductory conversation, mingling with other church members while exchanging looks across the room, and a long phone call that evening. Two months later, with my son/co-conspirator, I proposed to him in church, which was accepted. Back then, there were only a handful of states where we could be legally married, so we worked out the logistics.
The weekend before our wedding was also the weekend I first met my in-laws (go figure), and the equality state decided upon fell in between. My fiancé had already been smoked out by my family. Meeting his family was a whirlwind, and they fell in love with my son. Before we left the next day to tie the knot, my mother-in-law and I had a beautiful heart-to-heart.
The planning for this event had gone without a hitch, but for one little thing: when we left home, we forgot the ring! Upon arrival to get our marriage license, and an hour to go before meeting our justice of the peace, my family made a mad dash to K-Mart for a pair of rings to tide us over.
Trust and believe, we videotaped this journey, and our son videotaped our marriage ceremony. The biggest lesson we learned from the experience was the importance of having faith. One of the parts of the ceremony, in addition to saying our vows, has always stayed with me: “Marriage is not just having the right partner; it’s being the right partner.” At 57, I could claim both.
Having enjoyed our anniversary at one of our favorite restaurants, I’m here to say that brothas of a certain age can and do find love, one that does stand the test of time, if you are lined up on the right frequency to receive it and committed to do the work (that’s right, there’s work involved). And yes, the things you said and did to get him are the same things you must keep right on saying and doing to keep him. Growing old with my husband, watching our son become a young man, sharing memories and making new ones–it’s all about the love.
Believe in dreams and never give up.