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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Valentine

Happy Anniversary, Sam!

The best thing to hold onto in life is each other. Audrey Hepburn

If you are able to make it to this season of life, you start to adopt new habits. You think about how to make the next half of your life equally or more impactful as the first half. You think about relationships, experiences and your bucket list. I even take a glance at the obituary page, just to see what wonderful accomplishments people have made. It can be inspiring. One of the relationships that I cherish from back in the day involves the young man in this picture. For the purpose of this blog, let’s just call him Sam.

Sam and I met in my senior year in high school. We went to the same church, but I didn’t really notice him until I tried out for the basketball cheerleading squad. This is strange because he was 6’ 4” tall – kind of hard to miss in a crowd. I didn’t live near the school so I didn’t get a chance to stay after school to watch our teams compete. I decided I was going to enjoy more of the high school experience before I graduated. He asked if he could walk me home after a game someday. Thankfully my godmother lived in the vicinity so I quickly made arrangements with her to spend the night. We were smitten with each other at this point…but I had missed one little detail. My girlfriends kept asking me what grade he was in. I assumed because he started with the 4 guys that I knew were seniors that he was a senior too. As it turns out, he was a sophomore. Well it was too late to undo anything at that point but I really walked on eggshells with his mom for a long time. She wondered if I was a gold-digger – Sam had a paper route. We enjoyed a great relationship until the candle burned out, but to this day, I am very friendly with him and his mother. She hasbeen a great cheerleader for me while I was raising my sons. She had three sons of her own and understood the challenge that was ahead of me. When you have support and encouragement from people who are looking forward to you succeeding, it is very empowering. Even better than that, she is a woman of faith.

Sam and I ended our relationship amicably. His mom and I continued our relationship. We’d formed a bond that would not be broken. She sent cards for the children’s birthday and presents for Christmas. She and my first child have the same birthday. Sam didn’t come to my wedding. We talked beforehand and discussed him being too conflicted. Mom came and my every day dishes are the wedding present she gave me. When she comes to Atlanta to visit her other son, we spend some time together. When my father died, they were both there for my family. It is a very special bond that I have really enjoyed down through the years. She has asked me if I would speak during her funeral services. What an honor. I keep saying I need to write out what I am going to say, because she will be the only one who can’t hear it. She is the one who taught me about cooking or starting my Sunday dinner the night before and always having a warm dinner ready for your family. One year I rode with the family to Virginia to visit her cousin who she considers her daughter. I slept in the bed with Sam’s mom so she could make sure there weren’t any night time visits. It makes me laugh just to think about it now.

One lesson I have learned well is that sometimes you have to be content with your memories. Being melancholy for what you thought should have happened doesn’t get you were you need to be. People grow and mature to be the adults they were meant to be. Sometimes we hold on so tightly to right now, we are reluctant to trust our tomorrows.

Next week marks 37 years that our families have known each other. Happy Anniversary Sam!

Sam flashback.jpg

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