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.
TINA AND FREDERICK LITTLEPAGE
Married: January 28, 1998
Met: Tina and Fred met in September 1997 during a cruise to the Bahamas. Fred, a recent widower of two years, was on the trip he had planned to take with his late wife and had been with his adult son, Fred Jr. Tina, a recent divorcee, was on the trip with her mother and recalled being approached by Fred while trying to make a phone call in a hotel-casino lobby. His pick-up line was ‘I’ve been waiting on you’ to which Tina responded ‘how have you been waiting on me? I just came down here to make a phone call’. “I didn’t know what he was talking about, we had just gotten there…” Tina said.
Fred admitted, “My son and I were checking out the ladies…I saw her and her mother arrive and decided I would try to talk to her whenever she came back to the lobby.”
First date: Although his initial attempt at connecting with Tina didn’t go over so well, Fred had another opportunity a few hours later when the two ended up on the same tour bus.
“When we got on the bus he sat across from us,” Tina said, “I really didn’t want to be bothered so I sat on the inside and my mother sat on the outside. By the time we got [to the location], she knew everything about him.”
Once at the show Fred sat at the same table as Tina and her mom and he invited Tina to go with him to the karaoke bar across the street from their hotel.
The two would go for drinks.
“I was pouring my heart out to him because I didn’t think I’d ever see him again,” Tina said, “we talked until 5 o’clock in the morning, he knew everything about me and I knew everything about him. Except that he was an ordained minister. That caught me by surprise on his voicemail when we got back home.
The Turn: Once the pair returned from their vacation, Fred, a Birmingham resident and, Tina, a Los Angeles resident, would meet two weeks later.
“We had run up a big phone bill…,” Fred said “and I was like ‘we’re going to have to write letters or something’, but then she ended up coming here…
“He was trying to distract me from another cruise vacation I was suggesting we go on,” Tina laughed.
“She wanted to go on another cruise, and I said why don’t you come out to Birmingham and check this city out,” Fred laughed.
“We met on a week-long cruise to the Bahamas in September. I came to Birmingham to visit in September, then went back home and went on disability with my job and moved to Birmingham a month later,” Tina said,” just me by myself, my children [stayed with their dad].
The proposal: Fred proposed when Tina came out for her first visit.
“When she came out, I said ‘I got something I want to give you’, and I gave her the ring and asked her would she marry me,” Fred said.
“Yeah, he wasn’t that creative, but I said yes,” Tina laughed.
The wedding: Souls Harbor Deliverance Center, Ensley. The bride wore a cream-colored dress and he wore a suit.
Most memorable for Tina was– “When we got home he took off his suit and put on a police uniform and went to work,” Tina said, “left me at home with my mother and my aunt.”
For Fred, it was “having my dad there to see us get married because he never really participated in anything that I had going. I played sports and he was always working.”
Words of wisdom: A strong relationship with God as the foundation is how you make it through the tough times, both said.
It takes “prayer and Jesus,” Fred said. “There are adjustments that have to be made. Our money habits were different and I had to get up early in the morning to pray about that because I was vexed… and God told me I was looking at the wrong thing. Instead of looking at what was bothering me, I had to look at what I had. I had a beautiful wife and I wanted to stay married.”
Fred said he also learned to control his temper “because we used to argue about nothing…we’ve had moments of glitter and moments of pain, but we stayed going to church and stayed going to the Lord,” he said.
Tina agreed that it takes “lots of prayers. I remember once we were talking about divorce and one of our friends called me up and she and I talked, and she strongly convinced me about not getting a divorce and helped me remember our vows, it’s ‘till death do us part,’” Tina said.
However, it was the birth of their son that became the glue in their relationship.
“Our most pleasant time was when we first had Jeremiah (now 17),” Tina said. “He was my ‘late in life’ baby, I was turning 42 when I had him, and Fred was 48. We planned it, I went to see a fertility specialist and everything.”
“He was not going to be raised in a single parent household,” Fred said.
Happily ever after: The couple enjoys spending time with their
children and families. Fred, 66, a Smithfield native, is a retired police lieutenant for the Bessemer Police Department. He is a father to Frederick Jr., 47, Carol, 45, Jalesa, 24.
Tina, 59, an Akron, Ohio native, is a mother to Sean, 36, Brittney, 34, and daughter Taylor, 29, from a previous marriage. Tina is a Client Service Associate for Morgan Stanley (in Birmingham). The couple enjoys attending Jeremiah’s basketball games and traveling.