In February of 2003 my parents went to Arizona to visit my uncle and aunt. Any trip to the Southwest, especially one that involves traveling 3000 miles to get there, is not complete without a stop at the Grand Canyon. And so, although it was several hours away, the two couples took some time to go sightseeing.
When they arrived at their destination they came upon a guide service that offered mule rides into the Canyon. These tours typically fill up months in advance, but it just so happened that a cancellation had opened up four spots for a tour the next day. They put their names in, got a hotel for the night, and showed up the next day, ready for an adventure.
My dad was paired up with a mule named Gizmo and Mom was introduced to her companion for the day: Alice, the biggest mule of the bunch. There were a few harrowing moments in the trip (probably having more to do with the four native East Coasters than the mules), but they all managed to stay in one piece and arrived safely back at the top.
Upon my parents return to Maine, however, my mom noticed some neck pain that, even after a couple of months, would not go away. She traced the problem back to her ride into the Grand Canyon and finally decided to visit the doctor. He prescribed some physical therapy and sent her to an office in Bangor called Access Wellness. It was there that she met a nice young therapist named Eric Cormier.
One of the first thing she noticed about him was that he wore Doc Martens, a shoe she knew I was partial to. As she got to know him over multiple visits, she began to notice other things. He shared our Christian faith. He was very close to his family. He enjoyed many of the same activities that my three brothers-in-law enjoyed (fishing, hunting, golf, etc). “Wow,” Mom thought, “he would get along really well with Jeremy, Jeff, and Eric.” And then a light bulb switched on. “He would get along really well with Lauren!!”
Suddenly I began to hear about this physical therapist on a regular basis. But I had just begun my Senior year of college and had things on my mind other than a guy in his late 20’s who my mom thought was a good catch for me. This was my last year of fun before joining the real world and my schedule was full of classes, student teaching, and time spent with friends. Not to mention that Maine, and subsequently the therapist, were 700 miles away. Eventually the PT appointments ended and nothing more was said about Eric.
November 2004. Over a year had passed. I had graduated from school in Pennsylvania, moved back to Maine, and was teaching fifth grade. My days were full of 10 year olds and my nights were full of lesson plans and grading papers. My social life was non-existent and, let’s be truthful, the pickings in Maine in the winter for a single 22 year old girl are slim.
Dad and Mom hit the road again, this time on a shorter excursion to visit family in Rhode Island. Apparently vacationing is a dangerous hobby for Mom, who tripped in a hole at my aunt’s house and severely broke her arm.
After a surgery that added a good amount of hardware to her makeup, she returned home to begin the recovery process, which of course included physical therapy. She contemplated seeing someone closer to home this time around, but ended up sticking with what (or who) she knew. Two or three times a week she’d make the hour-long trip to Bangor and once again I began to hear about her physical therapist. This time though, I was more willing to listen.
Finally, on December 23rd, 2004 (Yes, I remember the date because it was the last day of school before Christmas vacation. I even remember what I was wearing since I was dressed in my Christmas best… red sweater, wool skirt, and a cute necklace made entirely of tiny Christmas lights), I hopped in the car with my mom and headed to Bangor for her appointment. And on that day I met my future husband. Alarms didn’t go off, lights didn’t flash, we didn’t fall into each others’ arms with the immediate realization of what had happened. But I did notice that he used the term, “Eh?” with some frequency. And since I have a soft spot for Canadians (I don’t know why), I developed a soft spot for this County boy (the County is close enough to Canada for me).
One year, three months, three weeks, and two days later, on April 15th, 2006 (Tax Day; nothing says true love like joint filing!), I walked down the aisle and vowed to spend the rest of my life taking care of and being taken care of by a physical therapist who my mom set me up with. So you see, if she hadn’t met that mule named Alice, my life may have turned out very differently.
Happy 7th anniversary Eric Martin Cormier. I love you more each day (although I’m a little disappointed that you don’t say ‘Eh’ as often as you used to…).