Nancy is my mom. She was in Miami Beach celebrating her 40th birthday when she met Ben, the love of her life.
It was a weekday – Thursday, at the Fontainebleau hotel and the pool area was a scene out of an 80’s era Austin Power movie. Lots of beautiful people, decked out in designer beachwear drinking alcohol in the afternoon under the blue Florida sky.
Newly forty, Nancy could still rock a swimsuit. There were four of them at the pool with my mom that day. They were in town from Atlanta for the girls weekend that would make history. Janet, a realtor. Debbie, pharmaceutical sales rep, and Laurie, wealthy recently divorced housewife who was footing the bill for the first class shindig.
Nancy had just walked up the stairs from the beach and was standing at the foot wash. She was balancing a paperback copy of The Joy Luck Club, and a drink, trying to rinse the sand from her legs.
There was a lot of apparatus on the fancy foot shower with buttons to press and levers to turn. Nancy chose the wrong one. A jet stream of water came out in full force five feet in the air, bypassing my mom’s throat and dousing an unsuspecting person five feet in height who happened to be walking behind her fully clothed.
She heard a gasp, turned around, dropped her drink, and held on to her book, as she saw the results of her foot bath faux pax.
There stood in front of her a very small man. It was a conscious assessment that told her he was not a child, only because of the full black mustache on his very youthful face.
He was soaked to the skin. Her water blast pierced several layers of his expensive clothes. Gucci loafers, white slacks with a once crisp pleat, open neck light blue collared shirt, gold jewelry and a navy blazer with a crest at the pocket that screamed “MONEY$!!”
That’s how Ben and my Mom met.
Understand this: The attraction wasn’t Ben’s obvious wealth. It wasn’t a perverse pity for his extremely small stature. It wasn’t even the poor puppy dog smile he gave her when she asked him if he was all right.
The attraction was an instant stirring of her heart and a warmth that came over her from the inside out when he touched her arm as they talked. She describes their first conversation as being swallowed up in his eyes. She talks about his charm and good nature. By the time his clothes were dry they were in love.
If you’re a skeptic like me, you’re “pooh-poohing” the whole story so far. You’re probably thinking “it’ll never last.” But it did. And wait, it gets even more unbelievable with the details.
This all happened in the eighties. My mom was widowed for nine years by then. She raised me on her own. I was a junior in college, when Ben came in to our lives. He was twenty-seven to my Mom’s forty.
So yes, I too, thought the age difference too much, and I doubted at the time.
Nancy and Ben had more than a few issues to sort out as their relationship developed. The biggest one was Ben’s profession.
He was a career thief.
More like a consultant for thieves.
Yes. There is such a thing. Ben is wickedly smart. A young genius who dropped out of college and became a millionaire at nineteen.
Unlike the Steve Jobs and the Bill Gates of the time, Ben didn’t do tech in a traditional way. He solved complicated security puzzles. He could figure out how to open safes, get past security cameras and generally outsmart the smartest security systems in the world. His services were generously rewarded.
Ben was looking for love when he met my Mom. Finding a good person who loves you for you, is harder than you’d think – when you’re filthy rich.
As it became more certain that theirs’ was a forever love, Ben and Nancy talked seriously about having a life together. Ben’s unusual career was front and center at the discussion table.
“Can you be more selective with the clients you take on and give up the illegal ones?” Nancy asked.
“It’s possible” he replied. “Or I don’t have to work at all. Ben said.
“Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.” Ephesians 4:28
For a man as talented and ambitious as Ben, not working could never be the right option. And so Ben went about the task of saying goodbye to his old ways and re-inventing himself.
Which he did flawlessly.
Flash forward to today. Ben just turned sixty and my Mom is stunning and sharp at seventy-three. They are happy. They laugh about how they met. They thank God for second chances.