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Love at First Grade

A daughter's all-time favorite love story and miracle–how her parents met.

Diana Aydin's parents.

Valentine’s Day is almost here, and all week we’ve been sharing “how we met” stories on Facebook. So I thought I’d share one of my all-time favorite love stories and miracles.

It’s a tale that goes back to 1955, to the day my parents met in the first grade in Midyat, a small town in southeastern Turkey.

For my dad, it was love at first sight. He was just a kid, but there was something about the brown-eyed girl who knew the answer to every one of the teacher’s questions and always had a joke up her sleeve. He knew then that he was going to marry her.

He didn’t confess his plans, though. Not until the 5th grade. By then, they were friends. One morning, they were sitting on a bench outside, waiting for school to start, when they got to discussing the future.

“When we go to America,” my dad said, “I’m going to be an engineer.”

We? I’m not going to America with you!” my mom exclaimed.

“Sure you are,” he said, “because I’m going to marry you.”

What? Was he crazy? America was worlds away, far from her family. And there was no way she was marrying him–all he did was tease her and compete with her for the best grades in class.

My dad wasn’t concerned by her lack of enthusiasm, though. 

“Just wait and see,” he said.

But, after middle school, the two of them lost touch. They both moved to different cities to attend high school, my mom going as far as Istanbul. Four years later, she heard through the grapevine that he’d gone off to America for college.

Life in the U.S. wasn’t easy for my dad. He struggled to learn a new language and worked multiple jobs to save up money for tuition.

When things got tough, though, he went over his plan and the three goals he’d set for himself back in elementary school: 1) Move to America, 2) become an engineer, 3) marry his childhood crush.

She’d probably forgotten all about him by now, but if it was meant to be then God would make it happen, he told himself.

He graduated college in 1970 with an engineering degree and returned to Turkey for the summer, before starting graduate school in the fall. Meanwhile, my mom was teaching 5th grade at the same elementary school where they’d met.

She didn’t know he was back in town. After all, they hadn’t seen or heard from each other in 10 years. He wondered how he’d find an excuse to see her–he hadn’t told anyone about his interest, not even his parents. He couldn’t just show up at her doorstep.

The day after he returned home, though, his father saw my mom and her mother walking down the street and invited them in for an impromptu visit. My dad walked into his parents’ living room and there she was, sitting by the window. The woman of his dreams. He took it as a sign from God.

That summer, they got engaged. One year later, my mom moved to America, and they were married.

Just like my dad said it would happen.

What about you? Do you have an amazing “how we met” story? Share it in the comments below!

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