Two of the saddest words in the English language are "what" and "if." What if I hadn't missed that flight? What if I had met him before she did? What if I hadn't been afraid to take a chance? The question usually goes unanswered. But every now and then someone gets to find out.
When Ginger was 17, her mother married a man with three brothers, so she instantly had three new uncles. The youngest, David, was also 17.
Ginger says: "When I first met Uncle David, I thought he was to die for, but all he ever did was tease me and act indifferent. He made a habit of coming to my school at noon and walking through the halls with different girls. I was crushed because he just didn't seem interested in me."
Ginger and Uncle David graduated from high school and went in different directions. He joined the Marines; she joined the Air Force. Then they both married and started families.
"We saw each other from time to time, and I would look at him and think, 'What if?'" she said.
Ginger became widowed 10 years ago. A few years after that, her stepfather asked her to come home. He had cancer and only a few months to live, and her mother had advanced Alzheimer's disease.
She says: "I called his brothers to give them the opportunity to say goodbye. Uncle David was the only one able to come."
During his visit, David and Ginger had a chance to talk. He told her that he had a huge crush on her in high school. She admitted that she had a "massive crush" on him, too, but was too shy to say anything.
She says: "I knew he wasn't shy, so I asked him why he hadn't said anything. It seems my stepdad had taken him aside when we first met and told him that I was going to be his niece and he had better stay away from me or else! That blew me away! Then, he kissed me."
After the kiss, all the years prior melted away. Together, they took care of David's brother and Ginger's mother. Ginger told David that she had just been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and that her mobility and stamina were greatly reduced. "It didn't bother him," she said.
They married a year and a half later. Ginger credits David with helping her keep the disease under control.
David now has his own health issues. He needed a series of surgeries that resulted in the loss of both of his legs. He is now in a wheelchair, and Ginger has become his care provider. She says: "So it works both ways. I would never leave him because of his new disability. I will stand by his side as he stood by mine when my MS was at its worse."
About their life together, Ginger says: "It just gets better everyday. I regret all those years we might have had, but I also think that maybe this is the right time for us because we appreciate each other so much more."
Did you ever wonder "what if"? Did you find out? Send your tale, along with your relationship questions and problems to [email protected] And check out my e-book, "Dear Cheryl: Advice from Tales from the Front."