Here is the story of how I proposed to Krista. I’m secretly a romantic, and I love to create the over-the-top moment. For my proposal to Krista, I really wanted to make it a special surprise. Now, she knew I was going to propose- she’d already picked out the ring she wanted online- so the only surprises I could control were how and when, not if.
My plan was to propose to her at Nanny Yi and Pop Pop’s house (now my aunt Starr and uncle David’s house) in Elkhart, IN on Thanksgiving Day, 2000. Even though the house is on one of the main streets, Pop Pop had made the large backyard into a Secret Garden of sorts. The entire back yard is ringed with old 40-foot high pine trees, with a green house in the back, a brick bread oven, and just a feeling like you’re in a special place. My plan was that God would be on my side and He would make it snow, I’d take Krista on a walk back in to a spot in the pine trees where I’d have set up white Christmas lights, get down on one knee and propose. Magic, Moment, Memories. I called up my mom to tell her my plan, and she thought it was great. I also called up my grandma to tell her as well. However, I made sure not to tell my dad or my brother Frank (who was my roommate at the time) because although they’re nice guys, they have no concept of surprises or keeping secrets. It just doesn’t exist in their brains. Frank’s most famous story was when we were little kids, and each of us went to the YWCA to pick out a present for each other that would then be given to our sibling on Christmas morning. Frank had only made it to the YWCA sidewalk before he turned to me and blurted out, “I got you a surprise…IT’S A CAR!”
There was a jewelry store in Kokomo where both my mom’s original wedding ring and my sister’s wedding ring had been purchased, and although Krista had picked out the band ring itself online, we’d talked about getting the stone from that store for sentimental reasons. However, I just couldn’t figure out how I could bring the diamond-less ring to the jewelry store on Thanksgiving morning, get a stone from there fitted, and then hop back on the highway to get up to Elkhart without it being incredibly obviously to Krista what was going on. I decided to get the diamond from the same online store as the ring, and have it delivered the Monday before Thanksgiving so I’d have it in plenty of time for the trip up to Indiana. I didn’t share this tidbit of information with Krista, which ended up saving me big time, as we shall see.
That Monday arrived, but the ring did not. I got a call from Mondera (the online jeweler) saying that the original stone I’d picked out wasn’t available, but they would give me a slightly more valuable stone for the same price and overnight it to me. There wasn’t much I could do, so I agreed. That night I went home and Krista came over to watch TV with Frank and me. We were deep into the middle of a show, with Frank sitting to my left on the futon, with Krista on my right. No one had said anything for several minutes, when Frank suddenly blurted out, “Dad bought a bunch of film to take pictures when you give Krista the ring this weekend.” The sentence just hung in the air as I sat there in horror. From returned to watch the TV as if nothing had just happened. In hoping against hope, I tried to tell myself, maybe Krista didn’t hear him. This was completely ridiculous, as any woman who is hoping for a proposal will hear the word ‘ring’ through soundproofed steel-reinforced concrete to a width of 30 feet. I just stared ahead at the TV, and Krista did the same, although I’m sure her heart about to explode with excitement. Nothing was said about Frank’s comment, no looks were exchanged, and Krista went home after the show.
I later found out that my grandma had told my dad, who had told my brother, who had unwittingly destroyed my best laid plans.
I arrived at work Tuesday morning in a glum mood, only to find out more bad news. The ring would not arrive that day either. I called up the person I’d been working with at Mondera. He said that it had somehow been mismarked and therefore didn’t go out on Monday, but would definitely, for sure, 100% be there Wednesday. My hopes were not high.
After some thought, I came up with an alternate idea. I called up my mom, who liked the idea. I swore her to secrecy, although I’m sure she would have kept it quiet anyway.
Wednesday rolled around, and finally the ring came. It looked great, the box was cool, everything ring was finally in order. The day before Thanksgiving is always very slow, so I had plenty of time to ponder my next move. We had a half work day that day, and then I would head off to Krista’s parents’ house for Thanksgiving eve dinner with the Darin family, before heading up to Indiana the next morning.
I left work and began the 15 minute drive over to her parents’ house. In my haze I somehow managed to leave the dial on a country station. This twangy guy was sing about how he’d bought his woman a $100 ring. Lucky guy, I thought. Long before I’d started dating Krista back in July, I’d made a deal with myself that as soon as I paid off my car, I could by myself a flat screen TV (they were rare, new, and expensive at the time). Instead, Krista would be wearing that plasma flat screen on her finger.
As I came into the neighborhood, I took the ring out of the box, stuck the ring in my pocket, and hid the box. I knew that a large, square object in my pocket would give me away. However, I was now beset by worry that even though I checked it about 10 times, there might be some hidden hole in my pocket through which I’d lose the very small but very valuable token of my love.
I went into the house and was immediately mugged by her sisters. “So, are you picking up the ring in Indiana? You’re going to be this weekend, right? She’s upstairs, so you can tell us, she won’t hear.” Frank’s little piece of intel had been heard and duly discussed at length in the Darin family. I let my mouth say, “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” but I gave them a look like, “you better believe it, sister.” There was no way I could let them into my current plan. Even if they had wanted to keep it a secret, they couldn’t keep it inside. Eventually Krista came down, and we all gathered in the living room. There weren’t enough chairs, so Krista decided to sit on my lap. I was able to deftly slide the ring to the far inside of the pocket so her dainty derière wouldn’t press the sharp diamond into my leg.
We shared our stories of what we were thankful for, and then got ready to pray. Quickly I handed my camera to Bill, and asked him to take my picture with Krista. In my head, I knew Bill was the only person not likely to faint or otherwise lose his mind in the next five minutes, but I couldn’t tell him why I was really giving him the camera. Instead I said, “Bill, can you take our picture? Its kind of a family Thanksgiving tradition.”
He took the picture and started to hand the camera back.
“Can you just hold on to it for me?” I asked.
He had a confused look on his face, but said OK.
I’d asked Krista’s dad John if it was alright if I said the blessing, and he’d nicely agreed. We all held hands in a circle, with Krista to my side.
“Father, thank you for this food and thank you for this day,” I began. I then thanked Him for my family and Krista’s. And then, with my heart beating as fast as it possibly could, I said, “and Father, please give me the strength to do what I’m about to do.”
Her entire family gasped as their heads shot up and eyes open. I dropped down on one knee, still holding Krista’s hand. And then her mom and sisters did exactly what anyone would naturally do in that situation- they left the room at a dead sprint. They all wanted to capture the moment on film, but I wasn’t about to wait for them, and I’d already thought about that anyway. I nodded to Bill, who understood, and pulled my camera out of his pocket.
I looked to Krista and said something along the lines of ‘Will you marry me’, and I’m pretty sure she said something along the lines of ‘yes’, although by that time I think my brain had gone to mush.