For months he had been sending her images of rings to look at and rate. Engagement rings. Did she like solitaires? Three-stone rings? What type of cut did she prefer? He sent hundreds of images to her, gleaned from just about every internet-friendly jeweler out there.
As the weeks, and the ratings, went on he slowly got a feel for exactly what kind of ring she liked. She liked three-stone princess cut with a platinum or white gold ring. She knew he was going to propose to her one day, probably in the spring, but she didn’t know exactly when or how he would do it.
Indeed, he had made it a joke. He had a lot to plan for, he told her. Getting the clowns and circus midgets lined up to be a part of the proposal was no small task. He relentlessly referred to the clowns and the complicated setup so often that she actually began to worry that he might be serious. Worried enough to pull him aside one day and tell him in no uncertain terms that if he brought midgets to propose to her she would be extremely unhappy.
Believe it or not, this led to an actual argument between them. Not a yelling argument, they’ve never done that, but a stern discussion. He told her very clearly that the only thing that was entirely his in a wedding was the proposal. Once she agreed to marry him and they started planning a wedding they were collaborators with him being the junior partner. Weddings, obviously, were for the bride. He told her that all he had was the proposal and if wanted midgets he’d damn well brings midgets! She reluctantly acquiesced.
The midget drama set aside for the moment, he began seriously shopping for the perfect ring for his bride-to-be. After much searching, he found this:
It was perfect. Simple, elegant, and exactly the style she was looking for. He had quality diamonds set into the ring (he had done all his homework on the 4 c’s). It was what he was looking for as well. Yes – he bought that ring.
And he waited.
News Year’s Day. In the early afternoon he asked her to start the new year out right. “Let’s go to Leu Gardens,” he said, “and walk through the gardens; just you and me.” She agreed. Leu Gardens was “their place.” They went there for jazz festivals, picnics, and for date night. It would be a great way to start the new year.
He had the ring in his jacket as they walked through the gardens. He was nervous. He was weak from his extended medical issues. He was looking for the perfect place to propose to her, but nothing seemed right. He knew that it had to feel just right or he would not go through with the proposal. They stopped in front of the plantation house and looked at the gorgeous oak tree in the front yard.
“I’d love to get married in front of that tree,” she said.
He nodded; he had been thinking the same thing. It was beautiful. It would be a perfect place for a wedding:
He was tired, so he led her to the gazebo to sit and rest for a moment. There was no one around. They were alone, in the gazebo, surrounded by roses. It almost felt right, but not quite.
They sat there and chatted for a few moments. Then, she grabbed his arm and pointed, “Look at that!”
Right next to them, not 10 feet away, a beautiful cardinal had landed and was looking at them.
The radiant red of a cardinal is a symbol for us to recognize the gifts in our hearts that we have to give to others in love and friendship.
At that same moment, the sun broke through the clouds and the entire landscape, the roses, and her, were lit up. This was the moment. He knew it as surely as he knew that he could not let this moment slip away.
He dropped to one knee in front of her, in that gazebo, in that rose garden; the warmth of the sun embraced them and the cardinal watched passively from his vantage point a few feet away.
She knew immediately what was happening. Her eyes grew wide and a hand flew up to her lips. She said “ohmygod….ohmygod” as he slowly opened the case holding the ring and presented it to her.
What followed was a very romantic proposal, meant only for the ears of the two lovers and, therefore, cannot be shared here. There were tears, laughter, promises of undying love and devotion. There was an entire lifetime shared in the short moment of that proposal.
She said yes; she would marry him. She would become his wife. He would become her husband. Carey Lynn Dobson would become the wife of Ronald Edward Sparks.
Some time later, as they walked hand-in-hand through the gardens in post-proposal bliss, she looked at him smugly from the corner of her eye and said “And there were no midgets.”