Jennifer and Rick, both 36, met as kids while living in New Hampshire. Rick was 11 when he and his family moved into the same apartment building that Jennifer’s cousins lived in. During regular weekend visits with her family, Jennifer and Rick met and became childhood sweethearts. The couple married Aug. 19, 2000, and live in Gastonia. Jennifer tells their story.
Young love: Rick was an Army brat who had lived in Germany and Savannah, Ga., when he moved to New Hampshire. His Southern accent stuck out, and it was love at first sight for me. We loved to ride bikes and play kickball in the backyard. It would be us against the rest of the neighborhood kids, but we would dominate the game as a team of two.
Across the distance: Rick lived in Franklin, I lived 20 miles away in Concord. We didn’t have text messages or emails, so we wrote love letters and lived to see each other when possible. It was so easy to be myself around him, getting a letter in the mail made my heart skip beats every time. In 1990, his dad was still in the Army, and Rick was scared he’d be deployed to Operation Desert Storm in Kuwait. I loved that Rick was sensitive and wasn’t afraid to let me know how he felt about things. Thankfully, his dad never went.
Grow in love: Rick’s first job was at McDonald’s, and he worked all the hours he could to pay for us to go to the movies or dinner. Our first official “date” was in 1993 when we were finally old enough to be on our own. Later, Rick would drive 20 miles to pick me up, and we’d sit on the hood of his car, watch the stars and talk about anything.
Home in N.C.: We moved to Gastonia to escape the rough winters and to own our own home, which we built last January. Our son is 17, our daughter is 14, and we make memories with Panthers games and NASCAR races. Rick makes my life worth living and is my rock and soulmate. Hilary Trenda
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