This is the story of two people who were destined to be together nearly 100 years before they ever met. A love story, replete of hometown history and family.
Charlotte, a fiery, petite beauty with dark hair and big, brown, almond-shaped eyes, and Stephen, a handsome Greek, a brave US Marine , met 10 years ago after Stephen had returned from his first deployment to Iraq. Both living in the Dallas area at the time, they were introduced by a mutual friend. Their relationship flourished and when Stephen left for his second deployment, Charlotte waited for him. By the grace of God, he returned. They were reunited and spent much of their time together.
Their story is beautiful, alas, it is a private affair. I will just say that they found out they love each other. And when Stephen asked Charlotte for her hand. She accepted, happily.
Charlotte’s grandparents have almost always lived in Milam County. They had a farm in Cameron during the early years of their marriage, and moved to Rockdale later on. About 15 years ago they decided they would spend their golden years at their nearby property in the country. There is an old school here. They built a nice home on the old playground, amidst a grove of tall oaks.
Charlotte is my daughter. I live here also, with my love, Glenn. We actually reside in the old school. It was built by the local men as one of FDR’s work projects back in the era of the Great Depression. It burned to the ground before they ever held a class and they built it all over again. They carried on the business of education here for many years, but eventually the old school closed down and they began busing all the children to Rockdale. It changed hands a couple of times before my Dad acquired the building at auction about 45 years ago. He converted some of the classrooms into living spaces, and Glenn and I have a comfortable home here.
Charlotte lived in Rockdale until she was four, when our family moved to the Dallas area. But the first time Stephen came to visit and met the family, we learned that he too, has roots in Milam County. His grandfather actually grew up in Cameron. Furthermore, Stephen and Dad compared military records, and found many similarities. Both are marines from the 4th division, who specialized in communications and reconnaissance, and proudly wear the purple heart medal. It was a great visit. We all liked Stephen, and I felt very happy for Charlotte.
Now, Glenn likes gardening and one day he decided to make an asparagus bed. There was a row of huge old piers bordering a flower bed in our front yard, probably 10 of them. Dad had put them there soon after he bought the building. They came from the foundation of the old gymnasium which had been sold off separately and moved before he ever acquired it. That spot is now home to our vegetable garden.
The piers really didn’t look that great in our front yard. So Glenn decided to make a raised bed with them for the asparagus. It required a tractor to move them. So one by one, he picked them up, carried them to the garden and sat them down at their new resting place. He made a rectangular border and filled it with rich, black dirt that he found down by the pond. We bought nice, big crowns and he planted them just exactly how his research told him to, by digging a trench and making hills for them to rest on. We had ferns in no time. And now, this garden produces a lot of asparagus.
Luckily, my Dad is a very observant fellow. One day he was out watering the asparagus, when he looked down and discovered that on the right, front cornerstone of the border that Glenn built, there was something inscribed in the cement. He splashed water on it, as to read it more easily. Written on the stone was “YA Gjeddi 1929”. He thought about this for a minute and recalled that Stephen’s mother was a Gjeddi.
So we asked her about it. It turns out that YA, also known as Yancy Gjeddi, was Stephen’s great uncle! There were eight Gjeddi boys that grew up in Cameron back then. They were all adopted and all went by their initials. My mother went to school with these boys. And Stephen’s grandfather was one of them. It’s been said that the Lord works in mysterious ways, I believe this!
Almost 100 years ago, Yancy must have worked at the place where that cement was poured. I wonder if he knew it was important that he inscribe that stone? Glenn never saw it, he just stacked the stones at random. But this wound up on the right, front corner, facing outward!! And was discovered around the time of Stephen and Charlotte’s wedding, two people who met in a totally different part of the state, and never knew before, of all these amazing coincidences. Perhaps Yancy wanted to express his approval of this union. I find it amazing and beautiful. I wish I had a photo of Yancy. If I ever find one, it will go here.