The Power of “Yes”

ahI was late to marry.  As soon as I approached puberty, my father began drumming into me the notion that marriage was most important decision of my life.  He told me to wait until I finished my education and warned me not to pick the wrong woman for the wrong reason.

He said I should find a good woman and suggested I look in the churches rather than in the clubs and bars.  My sense of humor was such that I told him I would do as he said and wait for them outside the confession booth – the theory being the longer they were in there the more likely they were to be worth waiting for.

My mother advised me to follow my heart.  She said I would know when I found the right person.  When I asked her how I would know, she always had the same infuriating response – “You’ll just know.”

As a result, I thought long and hard about marriage and the kind of person I wanted to share my life.  In law school, I even went so far as to make a list on a legal pad of all the attributes I wanted.  I compared every woman I met to that ideal.

Through the years, I found a number of women who met all my criteria.  They had all the qualities I thought I was looking for – and more.  I couldn’t find fault with them; still, something held me back.  It just didn’t feel right.

My friends – many of them married for years – watched from the sidelines with amusement.  Some, like Henri Landwirth, doubted I would ever marry.  Finally, he was bold enough to press the issue.

“Stop all this running around,” Henri said, “and just pick one.  It doesn’t matter whether it is this one or that one.  Just pick one and get it over with.  Pretty soon no one will have you.”

When I told him I had no intention of marrying until I was sure I had found the right person, he laughed and told me to stop kidding myself.  “You don’t even know what you are looking for,” he said.

When I said I did and began to describe the woman I hoped to find, Henri stopped short.  Something I said brought to mind a girl who worked with him at Give Kids the World.  It was one of the few times I have seen Henri at a loss for words.

Henri made the connection a month later.  He asked her to pick me up from the airport in Orlando the next time and I came to visit him and gave her $20 to buy me a drink.

One drink was all it took.  The connection was natural and immediate.  Neither one of us said anything about it for a while, but we both knew we were meant to be together.

When Angie accepted my proposal, twenty-one years ago today, I called Senator Moss to tell him the news.  Senator Moss was responsible for bringing me to Washington and through the years had become a friend, mentor, and second father.  I told him how wonderful she was and began listing her many attributes.  When I took a breath, he reminded me he had met her once.

“You know the package isn’t bad either,” he said.  He was in his eighties by then but there was nothing wrong with his eyesight.

They were all right – my mother and father, Henri and Senator Moss.  My life changed when she said, “Yes.”  Asking her to marry me was the best decision I have ever made.

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12 Responses to The Power of “Yes”

  1. Louise Hamilton says:

    Bill, that is a very beautiful story. Thanks for sharing. Do you ever get back this way? If you and your beautiful wife ever get back this way please call and maybe we can go for a “drink”. Do you have children?
    Nice to hear from you.
    Louise Wooden Hamilton

  2. Tracy says:

    Happy 20th Anniversary Bill and Angie. What a beautiful story!

  3. Tim Tormoen says:

    Much love to the both of you!

  4. Ron and Linda says:

    Congratulations to a great couple, a great example of Mother knows best. Love, Ron an Linda

  5. Julia says:


    I so remember watching you and Angie fall in love! You are both such amazing people and it is an honor to know both of you.

    Love to you, Angie and Will


  6. Hugh H. Jones,Jr. says:

    I love it and will vouch that it is 100%true.And because it we now have Will and I’ll bet anyone $1.00 that he will go to Lafayette College for his future education

  7. Linda Landwirth says:

    OMG!!! I’ve heard the story from Henri so many times, but you said it so eloquently … as you always do!!! Happy Anniversary to the most wonderful couple I know!!! Love you both, Linda

  8. Jill Heath says:

    Bravo Bill! The best decision you ever made…

    Happy Anniversary to you both.
    -Jill, Mike, Stella and Lincoln

  9. Mariele Jones says:

    I agree, happy anniversary!

  10. Tim Brown says:

    Happy 20th Anniversary to one of the world’s truly amazing couples!!! You are both inspiring in your own right, but together the sum of one plus one is so much greater than two.

    Here’s to the next twenty years and all of the ripples of good that will surely follow them spanning generations of grateful souls…

  11. Merry says:

    Happy, Happy Anniversary, Angie and Bill! What a beautiful love story…….and definitely worth the wait. It was just meant to be. Much love to you both!!!!!

  12. Dorothy Clowers says:

    The two of you are truly an inspiration to mankind! Happy Anniversary! May God continue to bless you richly!!!!!!

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