I knew I wanted to propose to Joanna for quite some time, but I wanted the moment to feel right and I also wanted to ask her dad, Frank, beforehand… which is difficult since her family lives in Florida and we live in California. I also wanted to chat with him about it in person, not over the phone.
Last June, Frank was in the hospital awaiting a heart procedure and Jo went to visit him and the rest of her family. I stayed back in Los Angeles for a few days before I met up with them all. I was sitting in my office at work when it dawned on me that this was the perfect time, I can talk to Frank in person. It was Thursday morning and my flight was Friday and I didn’t have a ring. I called a few stores in the LA area and found one place that carried the ring I knew Jo loved. I drove over there right away, but they didn’t have the ring in her size. I convinced them to let me return it and order the correct size later on.
My plan was to arrive in FL, get to the hospital, ask Frank, and propose at our college, Ringling College of Art & Design, in the exact spot where we had originally met about 5 years prior. A couple challenges… how would I get any time alone with Frank in the hospital room and how would I ask him without everyone around, including Jo, hearing about it and spoiling the whole plot? (Frank is hard of hearing and is not exactly the quietest talker.)
Jo and my sister, Jen, picked me up at the airport after the red eye. With Jo in the front seat on the way to the hospital, I took out my sketchbook and wrote, “Frank, may I have your permission to marry your daughter?” I figured this would be the quickest and quietest way to ask Frank. When we arrived at the hospital we all hung out for about an hour or so until Jo finally decided to leave the room and get a drink of water. The window was short so I opened my sketchbook and handed it over to Frank while making the universal “SHHH” gesture. He read it, looked at me with tears in his eyes, grabbed the pen out of my hand and replied, “YES! YES! YES! YES!” signed his name, and shook my hand.
I reiterated, “She’ll be back any minute so we have to be quiet about it!” “Oh, of course!” he said.
Maybe 5 seconds went by before he shouted, “I knew this was going to happen soon, I just knew it!!!!” Luckily
Jo didn’t hear anything. I also asked him not to tell Jo’s mom, Mary, because we would want to break the news to her ourselves.
Frank winked at me as we left to grab a quick lunch. Afterwards Jo randomly said, “We should go back to campus, I haven’t been since we graduated.” Perfect. We walked around on campus for a few minutes, I lead her back to the stairs where we first shook hands and introduced ourselves to one another, got down on one knee, she said “yes” and the ring ended up fitting perfectly.
We brought some lunch back to Frank and Jo showed him the ring and he said, “I told mom, I couldn’t keep it in!” When we left, we went to meet Mary at her work to share the news and called the rest of our family as well.
Frank’s surgery went perfectly. Everything really couldn’t of happened better.