The Long Courtship
By Judith Walker
Edited by Annie Fuller
I graduated from high school in May 1962, and married that November. A
child of parents who divorced when I was two, I resolved the marriage would not
end no matter how hopeless or difficult life became.
In 1992, what I though would never happen did – D-I-V-O-R-C-E.
Three years later, I moved from Texas to Rogers, Arkansas at the
insistence of my daughter, who thought new surroundings were in order to ‘get
on with life’. She and her husband had three children, so it didn’t take much
to convince me.
I went to work in Fayetteville at the University of Arkansas in the
Department of Printing Services that was 30 miles from Rogers. After a couple
of months, I found the drive to and from work exhausting. In addition, I continued
going to my daughter’s church twice on Sunday and again Wednesday night.
I found an apartment 15 minutes from work and looked for a church in the
phone book. I kept returning to the ad for Christian Life Cathedral, which was
nondenominational and nearby. Their mission statement was: “To Heal The
Hurting”. The first Sunday I walked in and knew I was ‘home’.
I got involved in the Singles Group where singles from area churches
were invited to meals, games and fellowship at the Friday Night Live gathering
at the church.
There came when I would go out with girl friends and notice couples
holding hands and laughing. I thought it might be nice to have a man to go out
to dinner with just for companionship, nothing else.
There is a scripture that says, “Whenever a woman in in labor she has
pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no
longer remembers the anguish because of the ‘joy’.”
So it was then the hurt and loss of divorce went away and so did, “I
have no plans of marrying again, ever!”
I prayed to God for a man who was Christian, who was steady, who would
love, respect and honor me, and one with pretty white hair.
Dwight started coming to Friday Night Live. He went to Springdale First Baptist
Church. Pastor Ernie, the Singles Pastor, would say to me, “What about Dwight?
He is a really nice guy?” I’d shake my head and say, “No”. Later I found out
that Pastor Ernie would say to Dwight, “What about Judy? She is a really sweet
One Friday night as I was leaving, Dwight asked if I would like to go
with him to his church’s Living Christmas Tree the following Tuesday night. I
said yes and this was the beginning of our long courtship.
He began to pick me up for Friday Night Live and when he took me home,
we sat in his old pickup for hours in front of my apartment and talked about
everything. We would take Saturday trips to Branson and Eureka Springs, go out
to eat often, go to flea markets, and generally enjoy being together.
Dwight was the gentlest man I had ever met. He would open the pickup
door for me when I got in and out, also restaurant doors, church doors,
something that is rarity these days. I told Pastor Mark, the Singles Pastor
after Pastor Ernie and his wife left to serve another area of ministry that
Dwight could teach a class to single men on how to be a gentleman. He was a man
who kept his word and who knew how to treat a woman with respect.
Dwight started coming to church with me. When he put his arm around me,
my best friend Carol, would push it away and tell him, “None of that.” (The
rest of that story will be told at a later date.)
I remember vividly the first time Dwight said, “I love you”. I was taken
aback and asked, “What did you say?” He repeated, “I love you.” I started to
cry. I couldn’t believe that anyone could love me. I looked at him and said, “I
love you, too.”
I had always heard that opposites attract. Dwight was so patient whereas
this Texas gal was most impatient since being born on a bridge in Brady on the
way to the hospital. Impatient and get ‘er done versus, I’m thinkin’ about it.
He was a man who did not make up his mind quickly. In fact, he was a man who
took a long time making up his mind.
We dated for two years and every week came the same question from
singles in our group and others who knew us, “Have you set a date yet?”
Finally, this impatient Texas gal said, “It’s time to set a date.” The next
Sunday, I told Pastor Mark I had an announcement to make. I got up and all I
said was, “March 11, 2000!” Everyone there clapped and shouted, “It’s about
God answered my prayer. And yes, Dwight
had pretty white hair!