It was 1962, my gramma was a carhop at a little diner in Sherman, TX, kind of like what we now know as Sonic. One afternoon, a man named Ray Morgan Cantwell pulled in to that diner. He took one look at my gramma and it was love at first sight. My gramma tells the story like this: “Your Papa Ray circled that parking lot all afternoon until I got off work and when I did, he told me that he was going to marry me. And two weeks later, we were married.” One year later, my dad, Jeffery Ray Cantwell, was born.
My papa Richard had a crush on a girl named Charlotte. Well, one night, Charlotte and her sisters had a dance at their farm in Rocky Comfort and Richard was invited. When he got there, he said hello to Charlotte but the second Charlotte’s little sister walked in, Charlotte was old news. Richard met eyes with Lilian Jane Hines and knew he wanted to meet this girl. Well, as the story goes, Jane (as she liked to be called) was too young to date, so Richard had to wait. But the second Jane’s daddy, Oren (the owner of the local sawmill) said Richard could court Miss Jane, they were inseparable. They went on to get married and they had five girls–Wanda, Sandra, Roxanne, and the twins, Nelli and Kelli.
Let’s fast forward a couple years. Jeff moved to Missouri from Texas to go to college. He was a sophomore when Sandra started college at the same school. Jeff kinda had a crush on Sandra’s best friend and Sandra thought Jeff’s best friend was pretty hot. When things didn’t work out for either couple, they decided to swap. So Jeff and Sandra started dating and their two best friends became a couple as well. Things were going well for Jeff and Sandra and they decided they were going to get married. Jeff gave Sandra a ring but no date had been set. During their summer break between classes, Jeff went back to Texas to work on an oil rig and Sandra moved back home to the farm. Well, one summer evening, Jeff had had enough. He didn’t want to wait another second to be married to Sandra so he drove all through the night, pulled in to the chicken plant where Sandra was working a summer job, and he marched right up to wear she was in the assembly line. Back then they didn’t have cell phones so he hadn’t been able to give her an ounce of warning that he was on his way. She was shocked to say the least. So there they stood and Jeff looked at her and said, “I’m either leaving with you and the ring or just the ring.” And the next day Jeffery Ray Cantwell married Sandra Jane and they had Rachel (ME!), Jeffery Ray Jr., and Nathan.
I love to look back at the way things were orchestrated. What if my gramma Dodie hadn’t been scheduled to work that day at the little diner in Sherman, TX? What if my Papa Ray hadn’t decided to stop in for dinner? Or what if my papa Richard hadn’t gone to the dance on Charlotte’s farm? What if my great-grandpa Oren wouldn’t have let my gramma Jane go on a date with Richard? That would mean that my dad wouldn’t have been born. My momma wouldn’t have ever walked this earth, either. All I know is I’m sure glad things worked out the way they did. And I can’t wait to look back on my life when I have kids and grand kids of my own and be able to see how every little step was orchestrated and designed for a special reason.
Thanks for falling in love, gramma and papa. ~Rach