Just 10 days to make a life complete

June 21, 2017
Photo courtesy of Warren Potash

Ever dreamed about a singular event changing your life for the better? For me, it took place Sept. 18, 1972, on the steps of my synagogue, just outside of Philadelphia.

It was Yom Kippur, I was 22, and I noticed a beautiful young woman I had never seen before. We stared at each other through the rest of the day’s services.

When we left, I turned to my friend David and asked her name. “Millie,” he said, “but she is close to being engaged.”

Weeks later, I was planning to move out of our family’s home and into an apartment with a friend. As I walked into the house, my mom said Millie had called twice. I said that I did not know a Millie. Mom responded, several times, “You really need to call her back.” Nothing more. (Little did I know that our mothers knew each other from the beauty parlor.)

I called and my first words were, “Hi, but I don’t know who you are.” She replied, “We stared at each other on Yom Kippur. Why didn’t you contact me?”

I told her what happened — that David had said she was close to getting engaged. “That isn’t true,” she said. “He always wanted to date me and is probably jealous.”

We spoke for an hour and I asked her out on a date on Saturday night, four days later. The next day, however, she called and said a friend needed her to drive to State College — a few hours away — but she would go only if I agreed to go out on Monday after work. I said that would be fine.

So, a little more than a month after first eyeing each other from afar, we met. It was the last Monday night in October. While neither of us was a film buff, we decided to see a movie. Too bad it was “Deliverance.”

Despite the unforgettable horror of the movie, I wasn’t thinking about it when I dropped off Millie afterward. My brain was in overdrive. It was like we had known each other for years. It was so easy to talk about anything.

Our next date was two days later on Wednesday night; we grabbed a bite to eat at a diner. That weekend I took Millie, 19, to her first hockey game, the Chicago Blackhawks versus the Philadelphia Flyers. I already had the tickets — the one I gave to Millie was originally supposed to be for a friend, but he understood.

I don’t remember which team won, but I’ll never forget how we sat in the top row at center ice of the Spectrum arena and I explained the game of hockey to Millie.

The following week we saw each other on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights after work. Driving back to Millie’s house on Wednesday, we parked outside and spoke about many important things.

Before I walked her to the front door, I spontaneously said, “I am not afraid of getting married.”

“Me, too,” Millie said.

“Let’s get married.”

She responded: “YES.”

In just 10 days, my life had changed for the better.

I ordered Millie’s engagement ring and gave it to her the Tuesday night before Thanksgiving. We were married on June 24, 1973. (It would have been earlier, but the shul was booked!)

Now, 44 years later, our life together still never gets old.

Millie has made the bad times tolerable and the good times better. We have worked together and I never tire of being with her. She is the love of my life who has been the most wonderful wife, mom and treasured friend.

Last year, some words popped into my head — “Just 10 Days to Make a Life Complete” — and I decided to commission a song for Millie. Lucky for me, I came across a talented folk-rock singer/songwriter/musician, Natalie Gelman, who took my thoughts and turned them into a song that we recently presented to my wife.

It was a wonderful surprise — and a lasting reminder of a quick courtship that has proven everlasting.

Looking back, it still amazes me: The best decision I ever made was also one of the fastest. 

Warren Potash trains athletes and lives in Moorpark.

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