By: Dr. Jerry Bergman
One topic often asked when a married couple is introduced is “How did you two meet?” One of the most interesting introductions I have ever heard was told by the husband.
How did we meet? I was slowly jogging toward the auditorium door of the building I was in and saw what looked like a young Mexican girl.
The Mexican girl held her hand out from her body, her palm pointing in my direction. I held up my hand near hers, and as I moved next to her our hands met, we both tightened our grip, and I spun around facing the direction I just came from.
We then both started walking together hand in hand, and she asked me, “Where are we going?” I answered, wherever you want to go.” She was 16 and I was 17, a senior in high school a few weeks from graduation. We have now been together for over a half century.
My father was missing in action and likely died in the Korean War. My mother spent the rest of her life grieving. She was a good mother and took very good care of me.
Mother was just not a very happy person to be around. I do not ever remember her giving me a hug, or saying a kind word about me or anything that I did.
As an only child I felt something was missing in my life. When I met Angelina that day, we sat down together and talked, engaging in some introductions, including our names, where we lived, and why we were at the musical program.
She told me her father was a preacher and her mom and dad lived in Detroit near Six Mile Road. She was with her Black girlfriend, Gabrielle, who was older than Angelina and out of school.
After Gabrielle caught up with us, she offered to take both of us home. I thanked her and mentioned that it would not work out because my car was parked outside. So, Gabrielle suggested I take Angelina home.
She did not know that we had just met that day, and assumed we were good friends. So, I drove Angelina home from the music festival.
I was at the music festival trying out for a small part. My passion was music. I was close to being accepted for a part in a musical play, so I was in a good mood that day. I had always wanted to be a singer, so thought I would try out.
Angelina’s home was in a solid middle-class neighborhood. She opened the door, and we walked in. “Mom and Dad,” she said with a smile, “I would like you to meet someone. This is David, a friend.”
Her father, an African American, looked like a football player, which he was in high school. Her mother was a petite energetic German. I liked them immediately. Their warm smiles and engaging personality shined.
After an hour of visiting, Angelina invited me to her father’s church. I hesitated but as this would enable me to spend more time with her, I accepted. I was not a church-going guy.
My mother insisted I go every Sunday. It was boring. The sermon groaned on and was even worse than school. We had communion about every week, or so it seemed. “This is My body,” the pastor said, lifting up the bread. It did not look like a body to me. It looked like a stale piece of bread. “This is My blood,” the pastor said, lifting up the glass of wine. It did not look like blood to me, thankfully. It looked like a glass of grape juice. I thought, what a waste of time.
The following Sunday, I was at Angelina’s father’s church. I was greeted with smiles and amends and felt at home and warm in the all Black congregation he pastored. The church choir was incredible.
I found what I was missing at home. My life was music, then and now, and I fell in love with this congregation. Angelina’s father gave a dynamic sermon on forgiveness. I walked away, telling myself, I really learned something! When they asked about why I was at the auditorium where I met Angelina, they learned about my love of music.
I was in the center front of the choir the next week. The congregation saw themselves like a dark chocolate cake and me as icing on the cake. So from that day on, I was not David, but Icing.
I married Angelina and her father performed the wedding. I ended up in seminary earning a B.A. in Music and Music Ministry. My mother was surprised that someone who hated church is now a music minister in a large Calvary Chapel church.
I think she was both proud and, for the first time since she lost my father, genuinely happy. She even joined our church, met a guy there and remarried.
One horrible event was when we lost our firstborn who was riding his tricycle down our sloped driveway. The three-year-old ended up in the street, killed by a car. The driver, we found out later, was drunk.
Angelina’s father made it clear that this tragedy, which should bring a couple together, often does the opposite, resulting in a divorce. We consciously kept our lip buttoned about it, and our marriage, as Angelina’s father promised, became stronger. Thank God for the music festival where we met.
Dr. Bergman is a multi-award-winning teacher and author. He has taught in the science and psychology area for over 40 years at the University of Toledo Medical College, Bowling Green State University, and other colleges. His 9 degrees include a Doctorate from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. He has over 1,800 publications in both scholarly and popular science journals that have been translated into 13 languages. His publications are in over 2,400 college libraries in 65 countries. Bergman has spoken over 2,000 times at colleges and churches in America, Canada, Europe, the South Sea Islands, and Africa.