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‘He put his feelings for me over the need to make a living at that moment’

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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 Barnett Wright bwright@birminghamtimes.com. Include the couple’s name, contact number(s) and what makes their love story unique.

PETER AND MEREDITH DAVIS

 Live: McCalla

Married: April 3, 2016

Met:  December 2015, at the Alabama Power building in downtown Birmingham. Peter and Meredith were introduced by her mother, Daisy Thomas. “I was home for Christmas break, at the time I was living in Washington, D.C., I was a school administrator for D.C. Public Schools. We met [at Alabama Power] and then left and went to Dreamland Bar-B-Que on the Southside and had lunch, and my mother went along with us because she thought I was going to mess it up,” Meredith laughed, “. . . and there was just something about him that was very different from other people that I had dated over the years. For the two weeks I was here, we met every day for either lunch or dinner except for the days he was gone to Arkansas to visit his daughter.”

Peter said, “Her mother and I go way back, she knew me as a youngster because our families knew each other and I [ran into Daisy] and we were talking and she asked me if I was married, and when I said ‘no’, she said she wanted me to meet her daughter and that she’s going to be coming into town for the holidays and wants to introduce us . . . and Meredith was beautiful.

First date: December 2015, at the home of the late Judge Helen Shores Lee [daughter of Arthur Shores, an American civil rights attorney who was considered Alabama’s “drum major for justice”] and her husband Bob Lee in Dynamite Hill/Birmingham.

“Peter picked me up and we went to Judge Helen Lee and her husband Bob Lee’s home for their anniversary dinner. Judge Lee (who died July 2, 2018) was more of a mentor to him and I got to meet people that he dealt with at work [in the legal field] and outside of work. It was a fun evening. Definitely one of the most memorable evenings that we’ve had together over these five years,” Meredith said.

“It was an intriguing and laughable time,” Peter recalled. “Bob Lee does a lot of bantering, and he has a very unusual insight on things, and most of us had heard these stories before so we began to exit the dinner table and go into other areas of the house.  And I began to look around for Meredith and she was still at the table letting Bob Lee school her on his [personal theory] of having two birthdays. We acted like we were all old friends, the comradery, we meshed really well.”

The turn: December 2015. “When it was time for me to go back to D.C. Peter offered to drive me back so that I wouldn’t have to be on the road by myself, and I figured if we could make it on the road without arguing for 13 hours, he’s a keeper, and we made it,” Meredith said. “I was impressed that he chose to close down his law office to drive me back to D.C. right before the new year and that he put his feelings for me over the need to make a living at that moment. One thing he kept saying during the ride was that if he was dating someone or planning to get married, he’s going to make sure that his wife knows that he loves the Lord and because of his love for the Lord, he’s going to love his wife appropriately, and that was so impressive.”

After driving Meredith back “she fixed a meal, and it was the best salmon I had ever had. It was the way she prepared and presented the meal, the conversation, and the elegance of it…it’s almost like it was sacred. The meal, the atmosphere, it was just so calm and peaceful, I almost didn’t want to leave and go back to Birmingham.  Sitting there with her just felt right and I felt like I could do this for a lifetime with her,” Peter said. “When I was leaving I said to myself I think I found what I was looking for.”

The proposal: February 2016, in front of Meredith’s mother and stepfather’s home in Bessemer. “We had gone to dinner and had casually talked about being together and spending our lives together. Then we got to her mother’s house and I proposed to her right then and there in the car. She was floored. She said ‘yes’,” Peter said.

“Honestly, I was thinking, ‘yes, I can do this’. Never did I think it was time to pick up and be done with this new relationship, it just felt right. And even though I had to move back to Birmingham [from Washington, D.C.] I was fine with that because it was with Peter,” Meredith said.

The wedding: In Kelly Ingram Park, across from the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in downtown Birmingham, officiated by Bishop David Allen Hall of Temple Church of God in Christ in Memphis, Tennessee. Their colors were cream and navy blue. Their guests did not find out about their nuptials until 24 hours before the wedding.

What was initially supposed to be a private ceremony between them became an impromptu wedding that included their closest friends and family.

“We decided to invite people because we didn’t want to get married and not have [his mom, the late Ollie Davis Robinson who had gotten ill] be a part of it. So, we invited a few guests, our closest friends, and family, and fed the homeless afterward,” said Meredith.

Most memorable for the bride was “when we did the prayer Peter placed his hand on my shoulder as if he was only praying for me, and that touched me because he went from holding my hand to placing his hand on my shoulder during that time of prayer,” Meredith said.

Most memorable for the groom was the reading of his vows. “We wrote our own vows and as I was speaking them, I was really thinking about what I was saying, and the seriousness of the words, and the gravity of the situation. It was just affirmative in my mind, the vows were coming to life as I was saying them,” Peter recalled.

The couple honeymooned in Memphis, Tenn. “He was working and I tagged along,” said Meredith.

Words of wisdom: “Keeping God first is critical, and from a very independent woman’s perspective, I had to learn how to be submissive as a wife. It didn’t mean just giving up my independence, I had to learn to let Peter be the husband and the man of the house; I just couldn’t run over him because I’m used to doing things my way. I had to learn how to talk with him about things and situations that I was used to only having to answer to myself about. I’ve never had to ask someone [to make large purchases], I just went and bought it. I follow his lead 99 percent of the time because I wholeheartedly trust him to make the best decisions for our household. I want him to be the leader of our home,” Meredith said.

Peter said, “Mutual respect. You have to really respect each other as a person and respect each other’s opinion and the whole gamut of the union. When you make a conscious effort to respect each other that sets the tone for how you interact. “Communication is always vital for a relationship,” he said. “You have to learn and understand the strategy of silence. Everything does not deserve or require a response. Everything you’re thinking doesn’t have to be said. That way you don’t have to go back and apologize and try to take back words . . . because in the heat of the moment you both can say some hurtful things.”

Happily ever after: The Davis’s have three children: Dania Davis, 30, from Peter’s previous relationship, and Ashley Miller, 30, and Brea Sims, 28, from Meredith’s previous relationship.

Meredith, 50, is a Bessemer native, and McAdory High School grad. She earned a bachelor’s degree in secondary education at the University of Alabama at Birmingham [UAB], a master’s degree in library science and leadership administration from Indiana State University [Terre Haute, Indiana], and is currently in pursuit of her doctorate degree in education leadership at Liberty University [online]. Meredith is the principal at Midfield Elementary School.

Peter, 57, is an Ishkooda [Powderly/Birmingham] native and a Jackson Olin High School grad. He earned a bachelor of science degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham [UAB] in criminal justice, and a Juris Doctorate from Birmingham School of Law. Peter is a Partner with Davis & Scruggs law firm. He is also establishmentarian and Pastor of Landmark Ministries in Bush Hills [Ensley].