Simon and I were inseparable once I moved to Texas. There were a few moments where he would not-so-eloquently tell me to go away and give him space. But he was usually just hungry or tired and got over it pretty quick. We all get like that from time to time, amiright? We spent the next three months just living life and seeing if it would be sweeter together. I got a job at a dysfunctional, family run bank (which could be its own novel), he worked at a hotel. We spent our time outside of work trying new restaurants, hanging out with friends, attending church events, and really doing whatever young people do without family nearby, with disposable income, and with time! Sometimes I would just read a book in the hotel lobby where he worked, stealing glances with him in between guest check-ins. One time we contemplated a “quick” 12 hour drive to Albuquerque for a green chile hamburger. We didn’t end up going, but we could have if we wanted to.
By April 2004, after a whopping six months of dating, we both knew it was time to put a ring on it. He thought a simple band would aptly represent our love but I insisted that a diamond, albeit small, would hurt the wallet a little more thus firming up the commitment. Stupid reasoning, but I was set on getting a diamond. C’mon. They’re sparkly.
I knew Simon had the ring in his possession and that engagement was imminent. He mentioned he had known where he was going to propose since he was 14. That felt a little impersonal to me. Simon had been an avid Boy Scout so I was starting to worry that getting that ring would involve a hike, mud, bugs, and tying knots. Still worth it – so I mentally prepared myself to get out of my comfort zone.
On Tuesday, April 6th, 2004, we both took the day off work. He said we were taking the three hour drive from Dallas to Atlanta, his hometown. Note: Atlanta, TX is not the same as Atlanta, GA. Atlanta, TX is a sweet little town of 5,000 that makes you feel like you’ve gone back in time and regained some innocence in the process. Atlanta, GA is a big city where you take the MARTA and eat burgers at The Varsity. Clear as mud? Great. So, we’re driving to Atlanta, TX. He pulls over about an hour outside of the town and goes to pee on the side of the road. Tres romantique. He continued along Highway 77 until we were almost within Atlanta city limits. He pulls over on the side of the road again. Figuring he was peeing AGAIN, I sat there, slightly frustrated, looking at my poor bare left ring finger. He wasn’t getting back in the car so I got out to see what the problem was.
We were on a quiet stretch of the highway shoulder by a large tree and he was staring up into it. I hadn’t noticed that tree before in our many trips to Atlanta. East Texas is close to Louisiana and Arkansas and it’s considered the Piney Woods region. Lots of tall, thin trees and swamp areas. But we were standing under a very sturdy, old oak tree. There weren’t many trees like that in the area. Simon said that tree was special. He explained that his grandparents used to visit the tree over 50 years ago. He said they got engaged under the tree and went on to start a beautiful family. Then Simon got a little teary and a little shaky and said he wanted to start a beautiful family with me. The sparkly ring came out and I said yes. No hike, no mud. Only a perfect tree.
His parents and my parents were already in the loop. His mom had a heart-shaped cake waiting for us at the house and my parents were happy to receive the call that I accepted the proposal (like there was any doubt!). Simon had plucked a few flowers from around the tree before we left. We drove to his grandparents house and he gave the flowers to his grandmother. “Where did you get these?” she asked. “At your tree.” He replied. She responded, “What were you doing there?” He smiled, “Gettin’ engaged.”
Five years later, Simon’s dad’s highway construction company was awarded a job to expand the highway shoulders. Our tree was slated for removal. His dad did the best he could to avoid the orders but eventually had to cut it down and slather that sacred ground in asphalt. But since he had to haul away the tree, he had special plans for that sturdy trunk that was so much more than dead wood. He had rocking chairs carved for Simon’s grandparents and a large hope chest made for us that sits in our bedroom to this day.
How very sweet! Please post a picture if you have one of the rocking chairs and this special hope chest. I am very sentimental Love you
Already knew tgat story, but worth the read all over again! Heck of a guy….and did I mention he comes from a heck of a family?❤️
That is a wonderful sweet story!
Love & prayers,
Another amazing installment in the story of you. (you two, collectively)
I love that story. I remember that tree very well as I drove by it daily because my home where I grew up was only a few miles down 77. I also remember when it had to be cut down. Although I didn’t hear about the chairs and hope chest. That’s perfect!
Wonderful story! Hope you are saving all of these stories for that future book you’re going to have published!!
I would love to see the rocking chairs and hope chest too. Loved the story. What a wonderful life.
This made me cry…..what a special thing. Praying so desperately for Simons miracle . God be ever near.
Thank goodness I had a clean washcloth next to me cuz I’m balling my eyes out. I love you two so much and your stories are so wonderful to read about. Can’t wait to see you guys in a few weeks!
Beautiful story! I love that Simon’s Dad was able to save the tree and have it live on.
Hi Kristy and Simon,
Kristy, I met you at one of Donna and Tom’s Easter Egg hunts. You are a very beautiful and amazing young woman. My family has loved the Stanley family for many years. My daughter and Callie are best friends. I have know Simon for many years and love him dearly. Our family is in daily prayer for all of the family members and of course Simon in fighting a very difficult battle. Your writings are absolutely beautiful.
Thank you very much for sharing such a beautiful love story.
We will continue to lift all of you up in prayer.
Sandy and Dennis
totally made me teary!
My morning commute begins with a check to see how you all are doing, say a prayer for your family, acknowledge that healing is real and that God is in control above all else. Then I relish and tear up at your beautiful love story. Thank you for sharing your journey. I hold your hand throughout the day even though you may not be aware. …..
Like my sister said, I knew the story, but love being reminded of “the tree” that started our family. By the way, all the world’s problems seem a little bit less sitting in those rocking chairs on Mawmaw & Pawpaw’s front porch. What an engagement story to cherish! What an engagement story to pass down for years! You got one of Atlanta’s finest, Kristy. Love y’all!
My favorite part of the story…so far… IF I have to pick a favorite part. Anyway, yes, a picture of the hope chest would be magnificent!! And still praying, of course!!
THAT IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL ENGAGEMENT STORIES I HAVE EVER HEARD. I AM in Tears. ..What A Great Story for the kids to Tell !
Absolutely beautiful!!! Sending love & prayers from England, AR.
Stephanie Johnson Cagle
Kristy and Simon – my thoughts and prayers to each of you and your sweet family.
What an incredible story! Being from Atlanta, I too remember that old tree well.
I have been thinking and praying for Simon daily. Callie was on of my best friends in High School. As a young child, I remember being over at Callie’s from time to time when Simon was sick. Because of my age, I never understood the magnitude of his sicknesses. You, Simon, Mrs. Donna, Mr. Tom, Callie and Sam are all in my prayers for Simon to be healed.
Kristy, with every word I love you more. Whenever I mention Simon’s status Dennis says, “Let’s pray for them,” and we do.
I just wanted to stop by and let you guys know I’m keeping you in my prayers! I absolutely adored yours and Simons love story! You write so beautifully, and I wanted to thank you for all of the updates. God bless the two of you!
What a wonderful story, I’m crying. You write so beautifully. I can see and feel everything you write.