I’ve been telling and retelling this story to family, friends and colleagues for nearly a week now. Now to write it all down.
Four weeks before I proposed, I was out in the country doing some photography. I found a big hill in the middle of this big, wonderful valley and climbed to the top on foot. The view was magnificient. I decided then that I’d found the perfect place to propose, and it was time to set things in motion.
A few weeks later, Morgan’s father and I had a conversation. I asked his permission to marry his daughter. Stunned, he said yes, and I swore him and Morgan’s motherÂ to secrecy while I made arrangements.
First, I needed a ring. I’d went to jewelry shops and browsed the Internet, and even left a few of my ideas out for Morgan to see and judge. I soon realized that I knew very little about jewelry and needed a better plan. I remembered a silver ring I’d made back in school for myself and came up with this plan: I would propose using the ring I already had, and then Morgan and I would pick out her “official” engagement ring together.
Next, I needed to get my mother to North Dakota. I’d promised her months before that, when I proposed, she would be there. I called her up and told her what plan was afoot, and she made quick arrangements to come up.
Fast forward to Oct. 9. My mother, my girlfriend and my girlfriend’s mother were all riding out to the country together. We wereÂ all in on the plan, except for Morgan, and I hadÂ a round, shiny object hidden in a camera case in my pocket.
I’d had two hours of sleep the night before, and the anxiety had only grown since then.
The story we told her was that I found this incredible hill out in the country, and I really wanted to show it to Morgan and my mom. It’s about 200 to 300 feet above the rest of a giant valley and you can see for about 10 miles on a clear day, and we’d decided it’d beÂ the perfect place for a fall picnic. In the back of our vehicle were fixings for curry-chicken-salad sandwiches, chips, fruit, no-bake cookies and a bottle of Champagne.
We picked Morgan’s father up at his cabin in the country, along with a family friend,Â and began the drive out to the hill. The weather outside was perfect; it was 80-some degrees and the sky was a clear blue. We parked our vehicles at the base of the hill and carried our lunch up to the top. It was amazing how small our vehicles seemed to shrink as we ascended.
At the top of the hill, we set down our coolers and sacks. My mom got out a camcorder she’d brought and started recording video for the announced purpose of showing my father –Â who couldn’t make the trip –Â what “the top of the world” looked like.
I took Morgan’s hand and led her out to the middle of the hilltop, while my mom kept recording. I reached up and took off her sunglasses so she could see everything that was about to happen, and said something to her that I can’t remember now.
Almost shaking, I dropped down to one knee and presented the ring. Morgan gasped and covered her mouth with her hands. I said some more words, with “Morgan, will you marry me?” among them.
On the video, it happens rather quickly, but for me, in that moment, the time between my question and her response took so much longer.
“Are you kidding me?!” she demanded.
After all that, Morgan thought I was pulling a prank.
I reassured her that, yes, I really was proposing marriage to her.
“YES!” she said. We hugged. She cried, and so did several of the folks in our audience.
There were group hugs and plenty of laughter. Morgan was especially amazed when she learned that everyone else was also in on the plan. We then started making cell phone calls and sending out text messages to friends and family to share the news, and Morgan’s father handed me the dewired bottle of Champagne to pop the cork.
The cork must have flown 40 yards. We never found it.
Toasts were raised and we ate our homemade engagement dinner right there on the prairie, sitting on a blanket and on coolers and soaking up the wonderful sun and crisp, pure air.
We were engaged, and happy, and that was all that mattered. Morgan was simply beaming with joy and excitement, and I intend to spend the rest of my life workingÂ to keep her that way.