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Fairchild Air Force Base Back In The Day

 

 

I ABSOLUTELY BELIEVE in an on time God who achieves what He plans. Life has proven to me that the chief ways God works all things together for my good are through His best-laid plans and divine timing. This revealed truth has made all the difference. Intimately knowing and trusting in the One who works all things together for my good has helped me to become physically, emotionally, and spiritually content with everything.

My contentment’s development began as far back as 1971, when God’s divine timing and planning supernaturally revealed themselves to me while I was stationed at Fairchild Air Force Base.

 

My second day on the base, right after Damon Anderson and I entered the Base’s mess hall, we casually approached the closest table to our right. One of the six men sitting around that table leisurely looked up at me. Seconds later my co-worker, Damon, made introductions.

     “My brothers. Meet our newest sister, Chellette—uh” 

He paused then apologetically whispered, “What’s your last name, again?”

     “Wood.”

     “That’s right.”

     “Fellows, this is Chellette Wood.”

     “What’s happening?” They chimed in. 

     “Just checking out the Base before going back to my crib to chill?” In the same breath, I quickly added a cordial inquiry:

     “What’s poppin’?”

They all agreed that there wasn’t much happening. Because Damon was rushing me, I was forced to end the conversation.

     “Well, it was nice to meet you. Check you later,” I said as I gave the fellows a friendly smile.

     “Right on, sister.”

Damon’s hand was in the small of my back, nudging me, so I waved goodbye and moved without delay toward the next table.      

 

My initial visit to the mess hall happened in mid-April. A few weeks later, I had my first dated with Titus Lansing—a high yellow, well-mannered, good-natured, handsome young man of medium build, with alluring brown eyes and tightly curled black hair. This delicious eye candy, as it turns out, was one of the six Airmen Damon first introduced me to—the guy who leisurely looked up at me from their table.

Though so good looking, what actually pleased me most about Titus was his persistent pursuit of me and the fact that—unlike other men, who only cared about my outer beauty—Titus was drawn to my humble confidence and gentle spirit, as he frequently mentioned. As it turns out, his brown sugar was me—a reddish brown, well-mannered, warm-hearted, attractive young woman of slender build, with drowning brown eyes and a shapely black afro.

Once we started dating steadily, for the next three months and twenty days Titus drove his white 1959 convertible Thunderbird to my barracks every morning, afternoon, and evening. No exceptions!

 

Our Base was twelve miles west of Dawson and adjacent to a two-lane highway that stretched across acres of farmland. Since Titus and I enjoyed life’s simpler side, on weekends we amused ourselves by taking scenic drives on the faded, white-lined Route 2 into Dawson, where we cruised Division Street, Riverside Avenue, or North River Drive. 

A few times we ate a picnic in the rustic Riverside State Park—located northwest of Dawson. Zigzagging along this park, which also included a portion of a 37-mile-long all-natural trail, was the Dawson River.

When we had the money, we frequented Zip’s on Division Street in Dawson and pigged-out on a Papa Joe meal—a shake, some French fries or fried onions, and a Papa Joe hamburger with lettuce, tomato, American cheese, grilled sliced ham, bacon, and special sauce. Sometimes, we went to Longhorn Barbecue, which was near the Base, and feasted on this restaurant’s very pricy but tasty beef or pork rib platters. However, after one meal from Longhorn, we had to curb our eating out habit until our next payday.

On Sundays, we worshipped with some of our married or engaged military friends at Mount Zion Baptist Church in Dawson. When the service was over, we either fellowshipped with our friends or we treated ourselves to a Coeur d’Alene day trip.

 

On the fiftieth consecutive day of our whirlwind courtship, Titus changed his weekday routine. When we were in our mess hall eating lunch, he softly whispered into my ear:

     “We are eating at a fine-dining restaurant tonight. Our reservation is for 7:30, so be ready by 5:45. Dress for the occasion.”     

My curiosity piqued. I must have asked a hundred questions, but he dodged every one. He refused to give me any details. 

For the rest of that afternoon, I was bouncing off the walls. I sprinted to my job’s pick-up/drop-off parking area and fidgetily waited. Spotting Titus’ Thunderbird from a distance, my heart raced faster. That was my body’s way of confirming my life would change drastically this very night.

 

By the time Titus pulled into my barracks’ parking lot, I was pacing back and forth in our favorite curbside spot. He stopped his car in front of me, left the engine running, chivalrously walked me to the passenger door, opened it and helped me into his car, then returned to his seat. Apprehensive, excessive energy was bouncing everywhere inside that Thunderbird.

The sun was setting. There was a warm, faint breeze. Though it was early evening, the masses had not begun to run helter-skelter.

The atmosphere was perfect for an intimate conversation, but there was dead silence in the car. We only exchanged smiles, as we watched the farmland’s spring green, wheat gold, cattle black, and foliage pastels gradually turn to Dawson’s leafy green west end of South Hill with its Gothic and English Baroque architectural styles.  

 

Our brief chats during our meal were a bit strained at times, primarily because nervous energy plagued us—him, because he wanted everything to be perfect; me, because I sensed Titus was going to propose. The question was in his flirtatious brown eyes, in his enticing smiles, in his kind hand gestures, and in his rapid breathing. The question was in the Sunday come-to-meeting navy blue three-piece suit he was wearing the heck out of, as well as hidden in between every one of his politely articulated remarks.

Much to my chagrin, I received no proposal during dinner. As soon as I thought that I read him wrong, I became even more disappointed. Then, as I wondered why he let so many wonderful moments go to waste, I became annoyed.

As we walked to the car, my displeasure and irritation suddenly dissipated the moment I sensed he was taking me to some other romantic spot to pop the question. Titus confirmed my intuition seconds later when he whispered,  

     “There’s a special place I want you to see.”

     “For real?  Where is it?”

    “In Manito Park. I found it a month before you came to Fairchild. I am certain that the reason why I’m just now taking you there is because of timing.”

     “What do you mean?”  

  “In my life, God’s divine timing and planning have been responsible for every wonderful and good thing that has happened to me, so I believe He had me save my special place for tonight.”

 

We sat in silence, once again. By the time I asked if he would play some music, we were nearing Manito Park’s entrance.

We must have walked for fifteen minutes before we reached the heart of the park—the Japanese Garden. From the moment I saw this place, I not only knew this was Titus’ special place but also I knew it was Manito Park’s showpiece.

There was something spiritual about our stroll on the Japanese Garden’s meandering gravel path, which actually looped around the garden. The path was lit by granite lanterns, and it was surrounded by exotic, aromatic, breathtakingly manicured plants, shrubs, and trees.

Inside the Japanese Garden were an oriental gazebo, a teahouse, and assorted statues. Framed by colorful foliage that hid a small waterfall was an arched Asian stone bridge. This Japanese footbridge was situated over a stunningly serene Koi pond.

 

After we stopped in the middle of the bridge and watched the koi below us, Titus finally proposed to me. There was more silence, while my wet with tears eyes danced a love waltz. After about ten seconds, I finally mustered my audible loving acceptance.  

Titus wept through a gleeful grin. I swooned with teary-eyed joy. After he held me in a minute-or-so embrace, he stepped back, reached into his right pant pocket, and pulled out a royal purple ring box. Flipping it open, he showed me the symbol of his love—a solitaire engagement ring in white gold—which Titus tenderly slipped on my ring finger.     

 

Suddenly we were transfigured. Stock-still, as if paralyzed by a supernatural spell, we lingered in this state of consciousness, while all about us onlookers passed by in slow motion. 

When the spell broke, we were still oblivious to others, even though we resumed our stroll. Before long we were back in our car heading home.

From that second on, time flew. My last rousing memory of this night’s activities was our passionate goodnight kiss. 

Before drifting off to sleep that night, I took one last peep at my ring and then thank God for His best-laid plans and His divine timing. I had prayed many times to God, asking Him to show me the man He wanted me to marry, and He finally answered my prayers that night. After thanking God, I slept briefly but peacefully.

 

The next few days, in almost every waking hour, my thoughts were held captive by wedding visions. Before the year was out, my visions came true.

 

~ from my Contemplation manuscript, which I composed in 2004. This entire manuscript is based loosely on my life, and that is why the names of some places, people, and events in this opening chapter are fictitious. This is the first time I have edited or revised any portion of my manuscript since 2004, and I have done so this week just so I could turn the opening chapter into a very short story.