Note: This blog is part of a series on a recent bicycle tour across Austria, along the Danube. To read from the beginning, click here.
The first time Jacques met my family, it was Memorial Day weekend in 2018. My parents, brothers, and sisters-in-law were out on a party barge on the lake we grew up on in New Hampshire—Lake Winnisquam.
I’d been online dating on and off for a few years, and my family had met a few characters who never reappeared on the scene. While we cruised around the lake, my brother Allan got his phone out, snapped Jacques’ picture and said, “Just in case we never see you again.”
On our first evening of the trip, in Schärding, drinking our first tastes of Gruner Veltliner, Jacques hollered across the patio to Allan, “Hey, do you still have that photo you took of me?”
Allan thought for a moment, then laughed. “Yeah. I’m sure I do.”
“Well, you’re not going to need it anymore. I’m going to be sticking around,” Jacques said.
Seated next to me, Jacques then stood up to address everyone. I sucked in my breath. I knew what was coming.
Only my family members and two good friends were gathered at that time—eight of the 16 of us. Jacques talked first about how much he enjoyed my family and how welcoming everyone had been. Then he turned to me, told me why he loved me, and got down on one knee. He pulled out a shiny, red box. Opened it.
“Janice, will you marry me?”
I didn’t speak. I cried. To me, that was answer enough. But not for Jacques. He asked again. “Yes,” I said. “Yes, I will.”
The next day, we rode our first leg of the 250-ish-mile trek along the Danube River. It was a short ride—about 11 miles—to Passau, Germany. As I cycled along, I noticed my half glove covered my beautiful diamond. The next time we stopped, I pulled it out from beneath the sheer material on that finger.
The view of this treasure made me smile many times that day (and since.)
The trip was off to an incredible start.