You never forget the moment you meet the love of your life.
For me, a drizzly June morning three years back turned out to be more than just the day of our company softball tournament. On that particular Thursday, my future changed forever.
Once a year, the Noble Research Institute hosts its Parkway Series, a casual, employee-only day where colleagues swap daily duties for double plays.
Since my athletic ability ranks somewhere between nonexistent and laughable, I serve as the play-by-play announcer. In the midst of worrying about the weather and last-minute preparations, a fellow employee approached me and explained that one of our summer scholars was a singer who had returned to college after a music career. This co-worker then asked (insert thunder clap here) if the scholar could sing the national anthem.
"Right, she's a 'singer' and I'm Babe Ruth," I thought, envisioning some kid warbling her way through the national anthem in front of 350 slightly soggy employees.
"Sure," I said, completely unsure of the situation. "Send her over and let me talk with her." My intention was to hold an impromptu audition. I feared I'd be the first person in her life to explain that she was, in fact, not a singer.
Moments later I met my future wife. The image of her standing there wearing her Oklahoma State University ball cap and a rain jacket with those bright brown eyes staring up at me is one that will never fade. Neither will my first words to her.
"So, Summer, you're a singer?" I asked, hoping my disbelief was obvious. "If this was American Idol, would you get through to the next round or would I make fun of you in a British accent?"
I expected mild shock. I expected back peddling. Her return volley was veiled attitude. Without hesitation, she cocked an eyebrow, smiled and said, "Oh, I'd make it through."
Bowled over by her confidence, I handed her a microphone without another word.
A few minutes later – in front of the entire employee base – she took a deep breath and belted out "The Star Spangled Banner" like Whitney Houston at the Super Bowl. Everyone was blown away, and I melted. She'll tell you that she played hard to get, but six months later we said, "I do."
Three Parkway Series have come and gone since that day. Each time we play "The Star Spangled Banner" from a prerecorded track, and each time I think about that day and my sweet wife.
And then I think about this place and all that's happened in my decade here, and all that will undoubtedly happen in the 10 years to come.
Each of the stories held within this issue of Legacy are focused on tomorrow, on what's next. These are the people, projects and programs that will shape the future of the Noble Research Institute.
We make these plans and chart our course fully aware that we do not own tomorrow nor can we bend it to our will. The road of life is going to pitch up and down and take the unexpected turns. Trials and mistakes are inevitable, but as I look ahead, I'm filled with hope.
I believe that tomorrow is going to be better than today, and if it's not, then we'll wait another day. I believe that failure means we tried something daring, and we'll learn from the experience and be better for it. I believe in the men and women who fill the Noble Research Institute's farms, laboratories, and offices with energy and eagerness that will undoubtedly find success.
And I believe in the miraculous because one moment the love of my life didn't exist and the next she was singing in the rain right in front of me.