Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Journey to Phil, Part 6, The Finale

{Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5}

I was back home for the summer on Cape Cod, working in my parents ice cream shop just like every other summer, but this time was different. I was lonely. I was missing Phil, and my parents, being the witty people they are made sure to rub it in by asking me to fill the spoons, fill the napkins, fill the candy toppings, fill..fill...PHIL! I couldn't get him out of my head all summer.
It's called Katie's now...but it was Maggie's when we owned it.

Meanwhile Phil was at home in Maryland working a crazy job in a factory that required 12 hour shifts, including many overnights, but then also gave him a week off each month. We talked every single day, unless his work schedule didn't allow it. We bought phonecards and talked until the wee hours of the morning. Man, having cellphones back then would have been so much easier and cheaper!

Remember my ex-boyfriend, "Zach"? Well, he was also home from college during the summer, living at his parent's house about an hour away. He would call me and make excuses why we needed to hang out...he wanted to talk, he had some old things to give me, he was in the area, etc. The first night we met up (I have a really guilty complex, and breaking up with him made me feel awful) we met at a location in between our houses, and I got in his car so we could drive and talk. We drove around looking for a place to eat, and he started crying and became a little hysterical, and started driving really really fast. I got scared watching him lose it while driving and began begging him to pull over. But he kept going faster and started talking about how his life was worthless. I burst out crying out of pure panic for my own life and he finally snapped out of it and pulled over. I ran out of the car away from him, and he followed me and apologized profusely. I eventually got back in the car (what else could I do?) and he drove me back to my car and I went home. That night was a great insight into his insanely jealous personality, and I was so glad to be away from it.

Another day, I was home getting ready to go to work, and he just showed up at my house. He had things to drop off to me (like gifts I had given him in the past) and was just "in the area". Stalker, much? And still there was another night that he walked into the ice cream shop at closing time just because he wanted some ice cream. He lived an hour away! He was beginning to creep me out, and yet kept me feeling guilty by telling me he was never going to find anybody else, and then he started drinking once back at college. I tried to play nice and told him we could be friends, but he said I wouldn't want to be friends with the person he had become. That was the last time I heard from him. But before he was out of my life completely, he managed to make me feel so bad that I even began questioning my relationship with Phil. Zach had almost suicidal tendencies and I felt compelled to help him by staying with him. It was psychological abuse, and I couldn't tell anyone about it. Least of all poor Phil who didn't want to (or deserve to) hear about my ex boyfriend. It was a hard summer, but I never did break up with Phil (thanks be to God!) and things got better with each passing day.

On Phil's three weeks off that summer (one each month) he flew up to visit me. He worked in my parent's store just so we could be together, and we were able to do some "touristy" things on the Cape.  We went over to Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard, swam at the beach, and went on little dates.  We were falling more in love, absence does make the heart grow fonder, and started talking about marriage in a more personal tone this time...as in our future marriage :)

{As an aside, when I was a little girl, my brother Brian (9 years my senior), used to come into my bedroom at night and read a story of a Saint to me and my little sister. One night, he read the story of St. Therese and I was so touched by her story. I heard tales of people who would pray to her and in response get a rose, or be able to smell a rose when there weren't any around. I decided that I would tell God that the man I was supposed to marry would bring me one white rose. How I wish my prayers could continue to be so confident. All my life, I prayed for that one white rose, and never told a soul about it. I wanted to make sure it would truly be Heaven sent through my future spouse.}

OK, back to the story at hand...

Getting back on campus in the fall of 2000 was so wonderful. I was a senior and moved into off-campus housing (literally in the projects) with my little sister, and Phil (a junior) returned to dorm life on campus. Phil was in a household, and had a lot of weekly household commitments (Rosary, Mass, Lord's Day, etc) but the rest of his free time was spent studying, working, or with me. By God's Providence, his household actually had an off-campus house directly across the street from mine, so he would hang out there a lot. We even got a dog together, named Cupid, that I was able to rescue through a co-worker. We were very disciplined, getting up early to meet at morning Mass (around 6am) then work out at the gym, then begin our school/work day, and each evening we tried to eat dinner together and take Cupid on a walk while praying the Rosary. I long for those peaceful walks together now, but we're in a different season of life at the moment :)

One night, after a particularly long day of work and school, I went home to my bed and found a teddy bear and a white rose laying on my pillow. I called Phil right away, and asked him what it was for, and he said it was just because he loved me. There it was, my sign! Good thing too, because I was pretty determined to marry Phil without it!

That year flew by, and with spring approaching, I decided to stay an extra year to get my MBA while Phil finished his undergraduate degree. He decided to stay on Campus that summer to work and take a couple courses so that he would be able to work more once his senior year started. Oh, and the fact that we could be together all summer probably influenced our decisions a little bit!

Just before my undergraduate graduation, we had Spring Formal dance that we wanted to attend. On the day of the dance, we went to lunch and then he asked me to take Cupid on a walk with him. I didn't want to go because it was drizzling outside and Cupid hated the rain. But he pushed for it, and we decided to go and just leave the dog inside. We walked all over campus and ended up at the Portiuncula, or “Port”, a replica of one of the first churches near Assisi that St. Francis repaired after Jesus commissioned him to “Go, rebuild my Church.”

Phil took me behind it to the Marian Grotto.

He bent over to pick up a pink rose, which were all over the place in Mary's honor, and gave it to me saying: This is because my love for you is true. Then he picked up a white rose, saying: This is because my love for you is pure. And finally he handed me a red rose saying: And this is because I'll love you forever. At that point, he got down on one knee and proposed to me! I said "Oh my gosh" about 1,423 times before finally saying YES!! Then I went home and called my mom, who already knew it was coming because Phil had called home and asked their permission for my hand. Ahhh, my Prince Charming! We went to the dance that night, and I truly felt like the Belle of the Ball with my handsome date at my side and a gorgeous ring on my hand.

That summer, we rarely saw each other during the week, despite the fact that Phil now lived across the street from me. We both worked a lot to save for our future together, while maintaining our course loads. Phil was able to work 30 hours a week doing landscaping at the college, and I worked full-time during the day as a bookkeeper for a medical office while taking all of my classes at night. We would try to squeeze dinner and a walk in after class, if we were lucky. It was a rewarding, hard-working period of our lives and I'm so glad we did it because we were able to save up money for our wedding, which was being planned for May 17, 2002 on beautiful Cape Cod.

We got through that final year at Steubenville together, Phil was finishing up his undergraduate degree in Theology, while I completed my MBA in April 2002.  I moved back home for the month before our wedding to get everything ready.  My brother Brian was also getting married (8 days before me) and Phil and my sister drove home for that wedding, before we all returned to Steubenville to watch Phil graduate.  Then we both drove back to the Cape for the last time before our wedding which was only a couple days away!!

Our wedding day was just beautiful, and Phil and I were joined in the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony at the tender ages of 23 (me) and 21 (him).  When I see the pictures now, I can't believe how young we were, but how old we felt!

We went to Punta Cana, in the Caribbean, for our Honeymoon and stayed at an all-inclusive resort that was amazing.  It was a wonderful way to complete my journey to Phil, and begin our journey together.

And we're still enjoying the ride!!


  1. What a great story! I love hearing how people found each other!

  2. AWESOME!!!
    thanks for sharing.. i have thoroughly enjoyed this!!!

  3. Great story!! Love how he proposed (similar to the way my hubby proposed to me). And, I bet we were at the gym at the same time that year. Mary Dalton and I would hit the gym every AM around that same time!

  4. I loved reading your guy's story! Thanks so much for sharing it!

  5. Sigh.... what a wonderful and lovely story! Thanks for sharing it! I've also had to deal with crazy ex boyfriends... not fun! I also kept saying, "Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh!" when Ryan proposed! He had to ask me again before I finally got the words YES out!

  6. what a nice story. I got aunt flo on wedding day too.

  7. You have a wonderful love story.
    Love your wedding photos too.
    Wishing you both a lifetime of love and joy!

  8. Thanks for sharing your journey to Phil!! I've enjoyed it so much each week. How beautiful!! You two were def. made to be together. So sweet :)

  9. Ah yes - the Port! Very classy proposal!!! And I love hearing stories about the roses. There are so many girls who have has success praying to St. Therese!!! I never gave it a try but after hearing all these stories, it's had not to think about praying to her in the future!

  10. I FINALLY had time to finish reading your story, Colleen! What a beautiful story and perfect ending to your journey to Phil, and beginning of your life together! I LOVE the way he proposed... what a perfect spot, in memory of your time in Assisi, and with the roses. I'm so glad he gave you that white rose too. Ahhh...

    I've been so inspired by your story that I'm going to have to start writing Andy's and my story soon... stay posted, cuz I have a few more things on my list that I haven't had time to post before I get to that one!


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