BY JE’DON HOLLOWAY-TALLEY
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, or know someone, please send nominations to Erica Wright firstname.lastname@example.org. Include the couple’s name, contact number(s) and what makes their love story unique.
JACQUIS AND ROBERT SPEIGHT
Live: Vinesville (Fairfield area)
Married: June 12, 2010
Met: May 2008, at Imperial Beauty Supply in 5 Points West, Ensley. “My [late mother, Jacqueline] was a beautician, and we were at the beauty supply store the day before my college graduation getting some color for my hair… Robert walked in and my mom saw him and said ‘that’s one of Mary’s [a longtime friend and client] boys. When she tried to introduce him to me, I didn’t pay her no mind,” Jacquis laughed. “I did check him out though, I didn’t make eye contact, but I looked and went on my merry way.“
Robert, a barber, recalled heading over to the beauty supply store between clients to get some supplies: “Mrs. Jackie ran up to me happy to see me and she grabbed me and hugged me up… then she said I don’t think you ever met my daughter, Jacquis, and she pointed her out and I was blown away. Jacquis was beautiful, but we didn’t talk then.”
However, Robert wasted no time trying to make a connection. “When I got back to the shop I called my mom and asked about Mrs. Jackie’s daughter and she told me she didn’t know if she was single… I looked her up on social media and hit her inbox,” Robert said.
First date: Summer 2008, at Sonic’s on Green Springs Ave. The pair picked up food and headed back to Robert’s house in Vinesville [Fairfield community] to hang out.
Robert recalls feeling like ‘Urkel’ [from the 90’s sitcom, Family Matters] after a mishap with his car. “The alarm went off and it was embarrassing because I couldn’t shut it off. I had to pop the hood and unplug the battery to make it stop…that was definitely not smooth,” he laughed. “I had just bought the car a couple weeks before meeting her and I was still getting used to it, but we had a good time talking and getting to know each other.”
Jacquis was unfazed by the incident. “He had almost locked the keys in the car too, right before the alarm went off,” she laughed. “But that was alright. We talked and got to know each other at his house, and I told him I wasn’t a believer in kissing on the first date, but he talked me into it. He said he didn’t plan on this being our last date so we might as well do it and get it over with,” Jacquis said.
The turn: “When we first met, I had a lot of feelings and confirmation [from God] on her. But what mainly got me was her stance on life and being real and genuine. With every month that passed, confirmation that she was the one kept coming,” Robert said.
They met in May and by July, “I knew he was really special,” Jacquis said. “I had just had surgery and ended up in intensive care and when I came home from the hospital he came over every day after work to sit with me. I would get really anxious [about the recovery process] and he knew how to calm me with just a touch of his hand. We really became good friends, and that’s when I know he was the one.”
The proposal: Sept. 1, 2009, on Jacquis’s birthday, at her parent’s house in Forestdale. They were having a birthday celebration. “Her parents knew about it, but Jacquis wasn’t expecting it,” Robert said. “She came home from work, and when she pulled up she saw cars in the driveway [but figured] it was just [a birthday celebration]. At the end of the party, I handed her her present, it was a [re-created] carved wooden picture of her holding a rose when she was a small kid. And I had the artist etch a ring on her finger on the hand she was holding the rose.” At first Jacquis didn’t notice the ring until her dad told her to look at her finger on the hand holding the rose. When she finally saw it she asked why that was there? When she turned around Robert was on one knee with a ring and asked to marry her.
“I was stunned, and elated,” Jacquis said. “Robert’s nieces were there too, and before he proposed they read poems and letters they had written to me telling me I was the best auntie ever, and that had me in tears first . . . So I was just happy. It was unexpected. What I had prayed for all my life, God gave it to me,” she said.
The wedding: Mount Canaan Full Gospel Church in Wenonah, officiated by Pastor Willie B. O’Neal. Their colors were rose petal, champagne and ivory.
Most memorable for the bride was “when I sang to him after the kneeling prayer. I sang ‘Finally I’, by Daryl Coley. Those words meant everything to me and what I felt towards him, I cried throughout the whole song, so it wasn’t really a skilled performance,” Jacquis laughed. “There wasn’t a dry face in the place.
Most memorable for the groom was a moment during his brides’ serenade. “There’s a part in the song that says ‘I’m so glad I waited, now all I can say is, finally, I’, and Jacquis gets choked up, the preacher starts crying, I’m crying, somebody in the audience starts wheezing, and everybody lost it,” Robert said.
The couple honeymooned in Gatlinburg, Tenn. “We had a great time in that cabin and that hot tub, we didn’t even want to leave,” Jacquis said. “And the helicopter ride was a highlight too,” added Robert.
Words of wisdom: Jacquis said “Keep God in your marriage. Remember who and what brought you together, and when times get rough go back to that foundation. For us, it was God who brought us together; therefore, a relationship with Him is what keeps us together. Pray together, communicate, compromise, laugh together, and when you’re tired of praying, pray some more,” she said.
Robert said, “love is worth the sacrifice of time and comfort to be a part of one another for life.”
Happily ever after: The Speight’s have one son, Robert ‘RJ’ Jr. “Happily ever after” for them is “growing old together, swinging on the porch and still grabbing each other butts,” they said.
Jacquis, 34, is an Ensley native and Ramsay High School grad. She attended Miles College, where she earned a bachelor of arts degree in business administration. Jacquis works as a recovery specialist for Cahaba GBA, and is a budding gospel artist who has just released her first single ‘Worship Is My Sanity’ available on iTunes.
Robert, 37, is an Ensley native, Ensley High School grad, and works as a barber at Brooms Barbershop in Birmingham.
The COVID-19 pandemic hit closely to home for the Speights.
“I had actually contracted COVID in March and it was the worst thing ever,” Robert said. “Recovery was hard, I had trouble breathing and was out of work for months. I just returned to work about a week ago because I had complications off and on and just recently got back to feeling like my usual self.”
Jacquis had been working from home prior to the onset of the pandemic but said once her husband contracted the illness, her anxiety shot through the roof. “Trying to work and take care of Robert, and keep our son safe at the same time was rough. My anxiety was high, and I really had to lean on the Lord in prayer,” she said.