A few months ago, I met Reverend Jesse Hammer at a casual gathering. I was delighted to hear his love story to my friend, Darlene. I asked him if he would share this special love story with my readers for Valentine’s Day. He sent me the following:
What would cause a man to return to South Dakota after 55 years? Why, a woman, of course!
My story begins with my birth in a sod house in Perkins County. My parents named me Jesse LeRoy Hammer. After high school graduation, I joined the U.S. Marine Corps. I used my G.I. Bill to attend college. While in college, I met my wife, Judy, and we were happily married for 49 years.
In 2007 I came back to South Dakota to attend my high school reunion. My wife did not come with me because she was ill. My cousin was pastoring a rural church south of Miller, so I drove down to visit and attend the church (Pleasant Valley).
Now for the Divine Appointment: Teaching the Sunday school class was Darlene Droz and when the worship service started, Darlene played the piano.
I returned to our home in Elgin, Ill. and my wife’s condition had worsened. We celebrated our 49th anniversary August 1, 2007 in the hospital where she was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer and was given three months to live. Almost to the day, the Lord took her home to her heavenly reward.
When I was at my cousin’s church, they had just dedicated the new fellowship hall. I made a pledge for the building fund for Judy and myself. When I sent the pledge each month, we received a receipt, along with a note of encouragement for my wife, from the church treasurer, who just happened to be Darlene Droz.
In September of 2007 Darlene made a trip to Hong Kong. When she returned, she sent a photo of herself with the Hong Kong skyscrapers in the background.
Upon my wife’s death, I placed all of the sympathy cards in a large silver bowl on the table. For some unknown reason, Darlene’s picture was in front of the cards in the bowl.
The first year without my wife was quite difficult, as many of you who have gone through this surely know. The second year was far worse. I had just returned from a two-week visit with my daughter and family in Detroit. When I walked in the door of my home, the emptiness and loneliness hit me like a thunderbolt.
I prayed, “Lord, if there is someone out there that you would choose for me to be with the rest of my life, please reveal that person to me.” I prayed this prayer fervently for two weeks. One morning, sitting at the breakfast table, I looked at the silver bowl and saw the photo of Darlene. God spoke to my heart and said, “That is the woman I have chosen for you.”
It took the next two months for me to get up the nerve to call her. When I did, she said, “I know you’re my pastor’s cousin and I remember you attended the church, but I don’t even remember what you looked like.” I prayed, “Lord, you’re making this match in Heaven. I need all the help I can get now!”
For those of you who may not know, Darlene had remained single all her life. Her life was dedicated to the Lord and her career. She had opportunities for marriage, but there was never “just the right man.” Now you can see why I needed the Lord’s help to win over Darlene’s heart.
Darlene agreed to let me send e-mails to her and I gave her my website so that she could check me out. On the site, she was able to review my life’s experiences, which included many pictures. This personal website turned out to be the best investment I ever made in my life. Darlene approved of my resume, and my good looks.
From that point on, the courtship began. I made two trips from Elgin, Ill. back to South Dakota to seal the deal.
When telling this story, I take the credit for praying and God answering my prayer. Then I am reminded ever so sweetly that Darlene had been praying for a companion all of her life. Now, whose prayer did God answer?
We were engaged in September and married November 22, 2009. On this Valentine’s Day, may all couples, young and old, know the love that Darlene and I now share. Always remember that God answers prayer.
And In Conclusion…A few years ago Darlene, who is a great stand-up comedian, did a skit at the Wessington Thanksgiving Dinner. One of the things she said really tickled me. She said, “I don’t think any woman should be allowed to get married again, till all of us have had the chance to be married once.”
So now that Darlene is married she leaves it open for all of us widows and divorcees to have a second marriage.
DARLENE AND JESSE HAMMER recently returned from an Eastern Caribbean cruise, which was their “loveboat honeymoon cruise” on the Carnival Dream.