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‘Marriage is like a bank account, make regular deposits . . . then the giver and receiver benefit’

By Anita Debro
Special to the Birmingham Times

“You Had Me at Hello’’ highlights married couples and the love that binds them. If you would like to be considered for a future “Hello’’ column, please send nominations to Ariel Worthy at aworthy@birminghamtimes.com. Include the couple’s name, contact number(s) and what makes their love story unique.

Al and Danika Hickman for You Had Me At Hello. (Frank Couch Photography)


Living: Trussville

Married: December 30, 1994

Met: The two met at Jackson State University in Mississippi. “We lived in the same dorm but we did not know each other,” said Danika. “One day I was with my girlfriends in the cafeteria acting silly. Al had just had his head shaved and it was really shiny. One of my friends dared me to go and rub his head and I did. And that was it. We didn’t exchange names or telephone numbers.”

Said Al: “I had been watching her.” The two eventually got to know each other and decided to go out.

First date: “We didn’t have a lot of money because we were college students so we probably went out to Wendy’s and ate off the dollar menu,” said Al. “Every now and then we would go to the movies. On very special occasions maybe Krispy Kreme,” he joked.

The proposal: “He asked my dad,” said Danika. “I was only 21-years-old at the time.” Said Al: “Her dad’s question was,  ‘Are y’all going to live off love?’”  The couple— still college students preparing for graduate school— had so little money that Danika’s engagement ring was an inexpensive purchase from JC Penney and her wedding band was made from scrap gold that the two had melted down. She still wears that band today.

The wedding: Danika’s home church St. Mark CME Church Edgewater (AL).

Words of wisdom: “Patience and listening is important,” said Al. “To me (marriage) is like a bank account, you have to make regular deposits and then the giver and receiver benefits from that.” He added: “And you just can’t be in a love relationship, you have to work together in partnership.”

Al added: “When we moved to Birmingham so that Danika could attend medical school there were still days when we had to go into the piggybank for gas money. We didn’t linger on those tough times but we had to pay attention to detail and our finances. As far as finances, you really need to prepare for the worst, hope for the best and enjoy the journey.”

Said Danika: “In my profession I see a lot of sickness. So I believe in sickness and in health. When we were dating Al had a bad knee injury and I helped him through that.  A few years ago I went through an illness and he stood by me. I see people throw in the towel when things change and people can’t do the things they used to do. I learned to appreciate the person and to be with someone in the good times and the bad times.  When we met and when we married we didn’t have anything and now we do and that makes me appreciate us even more and I am thankful.”

Happily ever after: Danika is a family medicine physician with a practice in Trussville. Al is deputy director of public works for the City of Birmingham.  The couple has two children, daughter Allison, 18; and son Daniel, 12.  They enjoy traveling as a family.  They have a lake house in Pell City and Danika loves to fish; Al loves to hunt.

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