I had Angela when I was 28 years old. She was my 3rd biological child, and the fact she had Down syndrome was completely unexpected. I was only 28. Why would that happen to me? The fact Angela survived the pregnancy was a miracle, one that I've never taken for granted. We were raising 4 boys under the age of 10, and I always wanted a girl. I was ready for a girl! Angela was beautiful. The fact she had DS was really an answer to so many things that I'd wondered about when I was a teen and new mom to my boys. While her diagnosis was a surprise, I wasn't in shock. Somehow I'd known for years I would have a child with special needs.
Angela's dad and I divorced when she was 5. The boys and I moved to a small apartment in a neighboring town. We lived there for 18 month before moving a little closer to "the cities" so I could access better services to meet not only Angela's needs, but for my boys as well.
I'd been on match.com for a few months. I had certain criteria:
1. He had to be smarter than me. (per my mom's request.)
3. Has to have a good relationship with all of his family members
4. Has to own his own home.
5. Has to have a bike (as in motorcycle)
I never knew when to tell the person I was on a date with that a had a child with a disability. I started using the information as a screening too. Sometimes I'd get an inkling about their attitude and spill it on the first date, like for shock value. Other times I'd go on several dates with the person before mentioning I had a child with DS. It was like, "Well, this person is really interesting, and I hope they stick around, but I need to know this first." None of them had ever been in my house. Then there was K. who I dated for two months when I let him come to my house. While we had both talked about our kids a lot, I'd never mentioned DS. That night we were sitting on my couch and there were pictures of my kids on the way. "You have beautiful kids." he said, "Why didn't you tell me Angela had DS?" K. was a great guy, but he wasn't THE guy.
On August 22nd, 2003, I exchanged emails with a man named Dean. We decided to meet at a place 1/2 way between our houses since we lived 45 minutes apart. I liked to arrive a couple minutes late so I could check out the guy first before sitting down. I'd played the match game for awhile and learned I could see the creeps before I sat down. Anyway, as I walked up to the front doors, there was his bike. I recognized it from his description. I ran my hands along the seat. The butterflies in my stomach started flying.
I walked in and found him right away. We talked for hours that night. So easy. So right.
The next night we met again, this time closer to his place. There was his bike again. I walked up behind him sitting at the bar. He was smoking. I slid onto the stool next to him. "Your profile says you don't smoke." I said.
"No, I think it says I'm quitting."
We laughed and I said "Bummer. I really liked you but I won't date another smoker."
We chatted awhile, enjoying each others company. Somewhere in there he asked how long I'd been divorced. "Hmmm...well...we've been separated for 18 months but neither of us had had the funds for an attorney yet."
He laughed, "Bummer. I won't date a married woman. I don't care what the reason is."
We agreed that we'd hang out with each other, since we really enjoyed one another's company, but that's about it. "Wanna go for a ride?" he said? Riding together takes practice. Every person handles their bike a bit differently. Dean and I fit together perfectly on his bike. He drove just like my dad who I'd rode many miles behind. I already "knew" him based on how he handled his bike.
We rode together, or went out together, almost every night for two weeks.
I don't remember when I told him Angela had DS. I think it was the first date. Do you know what Dean did? He went home and googled DS so he could understand what it was. Still, I didn't introduce him to my kids. I had a rule about meeting family. Nobody meets my kids, and I don't meet the guy's family until I know the relationship is safe and I know they'll be around awhile.
Then one day he stopped at my place. He was so sexy when he got off his bike. Just enough ink on his arms to attract me.
"So my brother invited us over to his house to watch the game."
"NOPE! You know my rule. I don't meet family. I have to know you're gonna stick around before I meet family."
"I promise the only people who will be there are my brother and his wife. That's it."
I didn't like passing up an opportunity to ride behind Dean. I gave it some thought. "Ok fine. But this is the only time."
Dean's entire family....his twin brother and wife, his younger brother and wife, his sister and her husband...and his parents....were all there. He really didn't have any idea. Word had spread that Dean was bringing some new girl so everyone showed up. (You know what they say about payback!)
During the afternoon his dad asked, "So how long have you guys been dating?"
In stereo we answered, "We're not."
To be continued.....