“I was driving the route 14 my first day when Terry relieved me in front of the yard,” Debbie recalls. “Because I was brand new, I was all nervous and didn’t pay any attention to him. I just wanted off that bus! The second day when he climbed aboard, he asked ‘Are you doing this every day at this time?’ I remember thinking oh my goodness what a voice! Then I looked up and saw his face and that was it. He was so nice and very good-looking. The following week, we kept running into each other at lunch time. There were about five of us that used to meet for lunch every day. Then, before we knew it, it dwindled down to just the two of us.”
Terry nods. “We just clicked, you know?”
Debbie smiles. “Anyway, we went out to lunch together for about a year, and we found out we had a lot of things in common. We got to know each other pretty well. He was just a very gentle, soft-spoken person. I saw that he was kind-hearted and very giving. I liked that.”
“It started off as a good friendship for us,” agreed Terry. “As I got to know her, I could see she was real—there was nothing fake about her. And I noticed that she was a very good parent to her kids. That sort of clued me in as to who she was.” He shrugs. “She also laughed at my jokes.”
“Some of them I laughed at because I thought I’d BETTER laugh.” points out Debbie.
“Uh huh. She chased me for months,” Terry teases. “Finally I just said okay. I’m yours.”
“I did pursue him,” Debbie confesses. “It took him a long time to ask me out on a date, so I finally invited him to come over to my place for dinner.”
Terry laughs. “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach right?” He leans back in his chair and adds more seriously. “Nah. She was fun. She enjoyed the same things that I did. We were best friends, got to know each other, and it just blossomed from there.
Debbie arches a brow at her husband. “But I didn’t know quite everything. I didn’t realize that he had had a fiance until I was moving in with him and cleaning out the cupboards.”
Terry knows what’s coming. He looks sheepishly at his wife, who has a mischievous sparkle in her eye. They both start to laugh.
“Terry kept the old engagement ring in his sock drawer, and I found it when I was putting laundry away. Anyway, about a week later he says ‘So what are you doing for lunch tomorrow?’”
“I just looked at him and pointed out that we usually go out for lunch together. He said ‘No, I think we’ll go look for a ring for you.’ And I said oh really? The next thing I know, he’s bringing me over the ex’s ring to try on and asking if I like it.”
Terry groans, “I had no idea she knew about it.”
Deb continues gleefully. “I put on the ring, looked and it on my hand and told him no, actually I don’t like it. We ended up taking that ring back to Zales, and I got to pick out a ring that I wanted. But he never asked me to marry him. He just said ‘What are you doing for lunch tomorrow?’”
“And you never said yes,” Terry grins.
“So here we are,” says Debbie. “We were so close and so connected. And all three of my kids love him. They just adore him.
“It was the same with my two kids,” adds Terry. “They just blended and are all close. It worked out well. But it was tough sometimes when they were younger because we wanted to be fair and treat them all the same.”
Debbie nods. “Like on Saturdays I would say okay before you watch cartoons go in the bedroom and make your beds. They’d all look at me like really? You’re not my mom. Stuff like that. And Terry would say don’t worry, Deb, they’ll all be grown up before you know it. And it happened just like that.” She snaps her fingers.
Her husband leans back in his chair. “It was like overnight they were all gone. Now with the new grandbaby, we can do it all over again.
Debbie’s face lights up at the thought of the new addition to their family. “Madison is beautiful. I really like that we get to help raise her together as grandparents. Did you know we’ll be married 18 years in October? And we’re comfortable together. We love to travel now that the kids are gone. A lot of nights we just stay in, snuggle and watch TV.”
“ Communication is really the key. And we never take work home,” says Terry seriously. “If we have anything to say about work, we talk about it here or in the car before we get home. We keep it separate.”
Today, Debbie is an sbX coach operator, and Terry is a Fleet Safety and Training Instructor.
“We like working at Omnitrans,” Deb says frankly. “I don’t think I would want to be in an office with him. But because he’s here and I’m on the road, we do fine. When we do our ATCR classes I look forward to having him as an instructor. I get to see the way everyone reacts to him. People really like him as a trainer. He keeps it fun. It makes me proud to be in there when he’s doing his job.”
“You have to be that way,” Terry explains. “Some people go in there, and they’re straight by the book. That’s just not who I am. You have to bring a little bit of something in with it. You get to know each other better that way.”
I ask what their plans are for Valentine’s Day.
“We’re going to San Diego to get our taxes done,” Terry says promptly
The two look at each other and burst out laughing.
“Our tax man called us and said he had one open appointment but that we wouldn’t want it because it was on Valentine’s Day,” Debbie explains. “Terry said no we want it.”
“We’ll get there early and spend the day and maybe go out for dinner or something afterwards,” he adds.
Debbie smiles. “We’re looking forward to it.”
– Juno Kughler Carlson