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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Include the couple’s name, contact number(s) and what makes their love story unique.
CARLETON AND EDWYNA MACK
Married: Aug. 22, 2015
Met: May 2014, over the phone. Edwyna and Carleton were introduced by Edwyna’s cousin, Cedrick, who was also Carleton’s coworker at US Steel. Carleton said, ‘this was truly ‘you had me at hello’.
“We talked for six hours about previous marriages, relationships, our background, hobbies, church, children, we talked about everything under the sun,” Carleton said.
“And during our first conversation he told me I was going to be his wife and I told him he was crazy and deranged,” Edwyna laughed.
First date: A week later, at Chili’s in Fultondale. “When I first saw her, she had braids in her head and I wasn’t turned on by that,” Carleton said. “Soon as she walked in the door and I saw them I was like ‘oh lord’. But she explained that she had them because she had come back from a family reunion trip.”
“And he was shorter than I thought he’d be,” Edwyna quipped, “but the conversation overrode all the negatives,” she laughed.
Carleton recalled being ghosted by Edwyna two months after their first date, as she had stopped taking his calls. Edwyna said she disappeared because “he was moving a little too fast for me and I kinda got scared.”
When she finally took one of Carleton’s calls in August of 2014, she told him that she had been holding back because of various personal issues, and the fact that they were both twice divorced. And to that Carleton said, “It’s all good, don’t worry, I got you.”
The turn: For Edwyna, it was December 2014. “He began to show me that he was everything that I needed but didn’t know it. We’d both been previously married twice, but he was everything that had been missing in my life,” Edwyna said. “That December it really hit me that this could be something real and could lead to marriage.”
Carleton said he was ready from the gate. When they reconnected in August, 2014 they became exclusive “but I knew she needed time to understand what the Lord had placed in my heart. In December I gave her a key to my house and [reminded her that] I told her she was going to be my wife in our first conversation. I had started picking Chandler [her son, then 11] up from school and we started [bonding]…,” Carleton said.
The proposal: February 2015, at Edwyna’s house in Center Point, in the living room. “We were sitting on the couch, and I turned to her and said, ‘Neither one of us is getting any younger, and I love you and I want to spend the rest of my life with you.’ I didn’t have a ring because I wanted to let her pick it out after she said yes because I wanted her to have a ring that she wanted, not just something I picked out,” Carleton said.
“That’s what the grown folks do, that’s how grown folks propose,” Edwyna laughed. “I felt good, I felt joy, I was happy and felt good about the decision. He had already met my son and they had established a relationship, it was all falling into place.”
The following month, Edwyna was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. “…and I asked him if he was sure he wanted to do this because ‘I know he didn’t sign up to be with nobody sick’, and he said, ‘you didn’t sign up for it either we’re going to ride it out,’” Edwyna said.
Four years later, Edwyna was diagnosed with breast cancer, “and Carleton was there with me through the chemo, the radiation, and everything. So, when he says that God told him I was going to be his wife, I really and truly believe God put us together. The obstacles that we have had to endure have [been big] and it’s only been eight years, so I’m looking forward to what else God has for us because I know we’ll be able to handle it with His help because He is the foundation of our marriage,” Edwyna said.
The wedding: At Avondale Park in the Amphitheater, officiated by Dr. Larry Russell Jr. of Revelation Knowledge Bible Church in Pinson. Their colors were yellow, black, and white.
Most memorable for the bride was watching the rain pour down hours before her outdoor wedding. “I was staying at the Tutwiler Hotel [downtown] and it was raining where I was and I was shaken up by that because we were having an outdoor wedding, but once I got to the venue [I realized] It hadn’t rained at all near the venue, and it didn’t rain over that way until after the reception. I felt like God was smiling on us and had ordained our union,” Edwyna said.
Most memorable for the groom was realizing their photographer, who was also his good friend, had not arrived at the wedding venue. “Our photographer was late and she had forgotten the date of our wedding,” Carleton said. “I called her up and she was at one of her grandkid’s games… and I said, ‘where you at, you’re supposed to be here at this wedding,’ and she said, ‘That’s today?’, and I said, ‘it’s right now!’ So she came on and we got all the pictures, we just didn’t get to get some of the before pictures that we wanted.”
“We had to do our wedding pictures all over again in the park that October,” Edwyna added.
Words of wisdom: “The key is to marry somebody that you like, which means marry somebody that you enjoy being around. That way you won’t have to worry about getting tired or bored with that person because you like them as a person,” Edwyna said. “You can love a person and not like him, but to be married you gotta like them too.”
“Patience– everybody operates on different levels and just because you’re at one place and they’re at another, you have to be patient with that individual while they get to where you are and to understand why you are there,” Carleton said.
Happily ever after: The Macks are a blended family with six adult children between the ages of 41 and 20: Chandler, Breilian, Carleton Jr. [CJ], Ratasha, Carlos, and their late daughter Nicole, who died at age 32.
Edwyna, 56, is a Midfield native, and Midfield High School grad. She served four years in the US Navy Reserves as a medical lab tech and retired from Protective Life Insurance company after 23 years. Edwyna is also a breast cancer survivor.
Carleton, 61, is a Roslyn Heights native [near East Lake], and a Woodlawn High School grad. He served in the US Navy as an aircraft mechanic for 21 years. He retired from the Navy in 2005, moved back to Birmingham and began work for US Steel and retired in 2015 when the plant closed. He then enrolled at Lawson State Community College, earned an associate degree in culinary arts , and started a food/karaoke truck ‘Itz A Wrap.’