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‘I Just Turned Around, Told Him ‘I Love You’ and Fell in His Arms’

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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.

WILLIE AND ALESHA TURNER JR.

Live: Ensley

Married: Aug. 30, 2014

Met: On February 15, 2014, at a tavern in Smithfield [Birmingham].

“This particular night I came in the [juke joint] and I didn’t particularly want to go that night. But I came in and he saw me, and I saw him and we made googly eyes, but another fella asked me if I wanted a drink first, and [I said yes] and went to the bathroom…,” Alesha recalled.

“I’m good at interference because I used to be an athlete, I know how to block and I did a little blocking move when I saw her coming out [the restroom] and he had to pass that glass over my shoulder, and I looked at him and he looked at me and he got ghost,” Willie said.  “…and I knew she was gonna have to get up and use the restroom at some point, and I was standing right there to make my move.”

“I took the drink [from the other fella,], but I went and started talking with Willie and we hit it off, we started showing each other pictures of children and our grandkids and we talked the night away, and we exchanged phone numbers,” Alesha recalled.

First date: The following weekend at Logans Steakhouse on Montclair Road.

“He came and picked me up from my house [in East Birmingham] and he made me feel very special. He opened all the doors for me, pulled my chair out for me, and would hold my hand as I walked up steps, and it just made me feel so special and he still treats me like that till this today. We had a couple of drinks and talked and came back to my house and watched tv and cuddled up on the couch.

“She was a classy woman, kept a clean house, if we used a glass when we finished she washed it immediately. She knows how to cater to her man and I liked that. And when I got home [that night after the date] we were just like little children on the phone saying ‘you hang up, no you hang up’, and I was the one who stayed on the phone the longest because she fell asleep,” Willie laughed. “You could tell she was a ‘grandmama-raised’ woman, and that gave me a natural high.”

The turn: May 2014. “I was washing dishes in my kitchen and something came all over me and I just started crying… he was sitting at the kitchen table right in front of me, and I just turned around and told him ‘I love you’, and he said ‘I love you too,’ and I said ‘no, I really love you’ and just fell in his arms. I still don’t know what it was [that came over me], but I cried and just held me tight and I felt so loved,” Alesha said.

“That was the first time in my whole entire life I had a woman tell me she loved me with tears coming out her eyes (besides my mama) and that was a sign that this woman really loved me. To turn around to me and look me in my eyes with tears falling down meant a lot,” Willie said. “And after that I had to talk with God before I turned my whole heart over to her and asked the Lord ‘was this the woman that I need to marry and spend the rest of my life with?’ and I got my answer.”

The proposal: June 2014, at Alesha’s house in East Birmingham, in her kitchen. “One of her friends, [the late] Wanda Wright, was my go-to person and she got her ring size for me, and I got the ring, and the day I proposed we [Willie, Wanda, and Alesha]  were all sitting there in the kitchen, and Alesha was busy working in the kitchen like always and when she got finished I snatched her up and pulled her in front of me and I got down on one knee and flipped that box open and asked her, ‘would she marry me?’ And she hesitated at first, and I thought she was gonna say ‘no,’ but then she started screaming ‘yes, yes, yes’ and crying,” Willie said. “She was overwhelmed and beside herself, and I was happy. It took me a minute to get up off that knee, but then we hugged and kissed and Wanda was so happy for us,” Willie said.

“I was mind blown, I knew God had sent me my husband, even though I said I was never getting married. I was just so happy,” Alesha said.

The wedding: At Sixth Street Peace Baptist Church in Birmingham, officiated by Pastor Geroid Caldwell, and their colors were purple, lavender, and beige.

Most memorable for the bride was her final look in the mirror before walking down the aisle. “When I was standing in the room in the back and Willie’s sister, JoAnn, was helping me get dressed and I looked in that mirror and saw how I looked, it was just a dream come true because I never thought I’d see myself in a wedding dress, so it was awesome,” Alesha said.

Most memorable for the groom was when he saw her father was bringing her down the aisle “and I’m standing next to the pastor and when I saw my wife-to-be coming down the aisle, I wanted to go meet her halfway. She looked so good, she was like an African queen, and I didn’t wanna let nobody get to her but me, and I tried to take off down that aisle and the pastor said, ‘hold up, you got to wait till she gets to you,’ but I could hardly keep myself,” Willie laughed. “She was so beautiful, and she is still so beautiful to me today.”

Their honeymoon was a staycation in Birmingham. “We just laid in each other’s arms and took in the moment and thanked God for bringing us together, we just wanted to rest and bond,” Willie said.

Words of wisdom: “Always be there for each other. Our relationship is very different because we’re always so joyful and happy that some people call us strange because we’re always laughing and having a good time. We laugh and make other people happy, and when it comes to me, he don’t play about ‘his sugar in his coffee’, that’s what he calls me, the sugar in his coffee, and that makes me feel wonderful to know that he cherishes me like that. Always talk to one another about everything, and never hold anything back. Be the same way you were when you met throughout the marriage, and never go to sleep angry, get everything straight with one another before you lay down,” Alesha said.

“Keep God at the head of your marriage because marriage is a covenant, not a contract. The joy that God gives you, He can give you that same joy in your marriage if you keep Him first. And keep folks and family out of your marriage!” Willie said.

Happily ever after: The Turners attend 37th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, and are a blended family with three adult sons: Kitrick and Anthony from Alesha’s previous relationship, Joshua, from Willie’s first marriage, and four grandkids combined.

Alesha, 57, is a Collegeville [North Birmingham] native, a Hayes High School grad, and worked as a bookkeeper before retiring.

Willie, 62, is a Smithfield/Titusville native, and A.H. Parker High School grad. He attended the National Nursing Institute, where he earned a certificate as a nursing assistant, and carpenter. He worked as a grocery selector at Bruno’s Wearhouse before retiring.

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