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 email@example.com. Include the couple’s name, contact number(s) and what makes their love story unique.
JEFFERY AND AMANDA CROOM
Married: June 2, 2018
Met: At Cash Advance in Birmingham, in May 2010.
“I was the store manager and Jeffery’s mom, Mary Blakney, was one of my good customers and he used to bring her to pay her monthly bill… Jeffery would always sit out in the car, but one day [his mother] came in said, ‘can I ask you a question’, and asked me if I was married, and I said ‘no, I’m not,’”Amanda recalled. “[Jeffery’s mother] gave me his phone number and went home and [told him about me because] he came right back to the store and said, ‘my mama told me to come up here and talk with you.’ I thought it was kinda cute but kinda odd…”
“My mom just hooked me up and gave me the way in,” Jeffery said. “I was already interested from looking at her through the window, that’s why I went right back up there and asked her out.”
At first, Amanda declined, but a month later, “I told him I had [a middle schooler, two high schoolers, and one young adult child] and that I couldn’t go out to dinner unless all my kids went and he said that doesn’t matter, bring them too,” Amanda said.
“I could afford it, I wasn’t worried about her bringing the kids because I just knew she was worth it.,” Jeffery said.
First date: In July 2010, at Mugshots in the Uptown district downtown. Amanda and her four children all met Jeffery for dinner.
“It was interesting, the kids vetted me, there was a lot of questions running together, asking me what are your intentions towards my mom, they asked the average questions kids and teens would ask…,” Jeffery said.
Amanda recalled there being a lot of laughter. “After [my kids] broke the ice it was awesome… I couldn’t [get a word in], my children took control… The older ones were questioning Mr. Jeffery and told him a little about my past and told him that I deserved to be treated right,” Amanda said. “By the end of the night, we had had a good time. Mr. Jeffery had them laughing, it was a good date.”
The turn: In 2012, Jeffery went overseas as a government contractor for two years and by 2014 knew Amanda was the one because I was missing her and thinking about her 24/7,” Jeffery said.
“We were always together and when he was gone those two years those were the worst years,” Amanda said. “It just seemed like everything bad happened while he was away. His nights were my days, and my days were his nights, so I would miss his calls and I just felt lost. And when we did talk I didn’t want to hang up. So now we’ve vowed to never do anything apart unless we just have to.”
The proposal: Mother’s Day 2016, at Jeffery’s mother’s house in Fairfield.
“I came downstairs to my mom’s den where everybody was watching TV, and proposed to her and everybody’s eyes got big, including Amanda’s,” Jeffery recalled. “I didn’t tell anybody, I just went down there and did it. I opened up the ring box and gave it to Amanda and I said ‘so, hey, are you gonna marry me?’ and she said ‘yes’, and I put the ring on her finger.”
“It was real weird,” Amanda laughed. “We hugged and kissed, and everybody went to hollering and snapping pictures… But I was upset because my kids weren’t there so we redid it for them.”
“I made up for it, I got another ring, and I proposed to her in front of her kids,” Jeffery said.
“I was shocked again because he did it when I least expected it, and I said ‘Jeffery, really?’” Amanda laughed. “And he said [to her children] ‘I messed up y’all, but I want y’all to share in your mama’s joy. She already said ‘yes’, but here go another ring’, and their eyes got big. I was overjoyed, I was satisfied because Jeffery is extraordinary…”
The wedding: At Bryant Chapel AME Church in Grasselli Heights, officiated by both of their pastors, Reverend Damien Littlejohn, and Pastor David Craig of Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church in Fairfield. Their colors were military red, white, and blue.
Memorable for the bride was her groom’s last-minute wardrobe decision. “When I walked in and I saw the whole wedding party across the front I looked for Jeffrey and [saw that] he was in full military uniform. We had bought a tux, but he wore his ‘dressed blues’, and he looked like a true Marine. I loved seeing him in his uniform, I couldn’t stop smiling coming down the aisle,” Amanda said. “He and my son were in uniform, my son is a sergeant in the Army Reserves, and they had let him come home from Kuwait for the wedding, and he gave me away… We had over 350 guests, but I had only sent out 150 invitations.”
Memorable for the groom was laying eyes on his bride. “When she walked through the doors and I saw her in her dress, I said ‘daaamn’ in front of the whole church and had to apologize,” Jeffery said. “And then I jumped the gun and tried to kiss her when she got to me because she was so beautiful in that white dress, and Rev. Littlejohn had to stop me. He put the Bible between us, and he said, ‘hold on a moment, we ain’t got to that part and everybody started laughing.”
The couple honeymooned in the Bahamas. “It was so peaceful and quiet overlooking the ocean. The water was clear and it was absolutely beautiful… I love water,” Amanda said.
Words of wisdom: “Know your partner before you [plan on] spending a lifetime with them, get to know that person, embrace each other and get the obstacles out of your way,” Amanda said. “Whatever you do, you do it together, there’s no ‘I’ in team. We lead together [because] we decided that that’s what works for us because it’s a union. Always make time for each other, I know the days get long and the nights are longer, but spend time even if it just sitting at a table eating, or talking on the phone.”
“Communicate with one another, make sure you know what your partner is thinking, make sure you’re covering each other’s needs… Communication builds trust, find out what they need from you instead of guessing, it would be a whole lot easier. Communication in a marriage is the most important tool,” Jeffery said.
Happily ever after: The Crooms have six children from previous relationships; Amanda has daughters, Kecia, 40, Karnisia, 31, and sons, Alvin Jr., 35, and Kristion, 25. Jeffery has daughters, Danietra, 23, and Breonna, 21.
Amanda, 57, is a Wenonah native and Wenonah High School grad. She attended Lawson State Community College, where she earned an associate’s degree in business administration and works as a full-time 6th-grade substitute art teacher at McAdory Middle School.
Jeffery, 56, is a Fairfield High School grad and attended American University [online], where he earned a bachelor’s degree in security management, and an associate’s degree in counter-terrorism. Jeffery served 20 years and 6 months in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he retired as a gunnery sergeant.