Childhood friends reunite and marry years later
Dickie Lindblom didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to the new girl in third grade at Kitty Stone Elementary School back in 1952. Brenda McAbee had just moved here from South Carolina with her parents, Frances and Ralph.

“I suppose I did what most 8-year-old boys do,” said Dick. “I probably annoyed her.”

Through the years though, first at Kitty Stone and then at Jacksonville High, they found themselves hanging out with the same group of friends at school and at church.

“He was a good friend,” said Brenda. “We were always good friends.”

At JHS, they actually had one date. Brenda remembers it vividly. Dick doesn’t.

“We went to a movie,” she said. “After the movie, we went for a long drive, got lost and ended up in Esom Hill, Ga. We figured we were in big trouble.”

After high school, both went their separate ways. Brenda attended JSU and Brevard College in Cocoa, Fla. Dick went to Birmingham-Southern and JSU.

They found mates, worked, had children and then found themselves single again.

Occasionally, they ran into each other when they were both in Jacksonville at the same time.

Both reluctantly attended their high school reunion in 1987, the first time they had seen each other in over 10 years.

“I hesitated to go,” said Dick, who was living in Chevy Chase, Md., at the time. “My daughter said she wanted me to go, just for her.” Brenda’s former father-in-law convinced her to go.

After the reunion that night, they spent time with their classmates and on Sunday a friend invited them to dinner.

“On Monday, I called Brenda and asked her to go to a movie,” Dick said. “After the movie, I took her home. Her mom lived on Spring Street and we sat on a retaining wall there. I walked her back home, gave her a kiss and went on home. By Wednesday I was a goner.”

Dick went back to Maryland and Brenda went back to Florida.

“I felt like someone had ripped my guts out and stomped on them when we parted for our return to our homes. Being apart was tough,” said Dick. “We paid AT&T’s dividends for a year with our long distant phone calls.”

Their younger children were entering their senior year in high school. Dick had promised his daughter he would stay in Chevy Chase at least until she was out of high school.

On July 1, 1988, they were married in Rockville, Md. Later, they had their union blessed at their home church, St. Luke’s Episcopal here in Jacksonville.

“It’s been an interesting 25 years,” said Brenda. “We’ve had some rough times, but we’ve had more smooth times. One thing we agreed on when we married was that no matter what happened, divorce would not be the solution. So, when anything comes up, we’ve always been determined to work through it.”

“I’m very grateful that I’m married to her,” said Dick. “She’s helped me be a better person, no doubt about that. She’s quiet, gentle, kind, and loving, but things that are important to her, she’s got a backbone of steel.”

Brenda describes Dick as being different from her in that he likes crowds. “We’re very different like that,” she said. “He’s very friendly, likes to visit with people, and he likes crowds. He’s happy as a clam in a room full of people, Two or three people, that’s my pleasure point.”

Dick’s parents are the late Rob and Audrey Lindblom. He taught school two years in Maryland and retired from MetLife Financial Services in 2001. He retired again in 2012 from Westinghouse Anniston.

Brenda worked 25 years for the Episcopal Church in various positions, retiring from Grace Episcopal Church in Anniston a few years ago.

They’re pleased that they’ve been able to blend their families smoothly. Their children are Jennifer Baldwin of Douglasville, Ga, Hunter Lindblom of Indian Springs near Birmingham, Duffin McGee, who is on temporary duty with his company in Melbourne, Fla., and Stephanie Eby of Alexandria, Va. They have eight grandchildren.

Dick is a member of the Exchange Club and Jacksonville Tree Commission. Brenda enjoys painting and making jewelry.

Dick said that lately, they’ve doing a lot of grandparenting duty in Birmingham “which is fun. We have a new grandson over there and we’ve been back and forth a lot.”

They enjoy taking day trips and most recently went to High Falls in DeKalb County.

“We like to go museums,” Dick said. “Not long ago we went to the Norman Rockwell exhibit at the Birmingham Museum of Art. We enjoy each other’s company and have a good time together.”

They make time for their children and grandchildren and are looking forward to a visit from their granddaughter in Georgia later this month.

The Lindbloms say that although they don’t have all the answers to a successful marriage, they do offer some tips.

“Definitely get premarital counseling,” said Brenda. “Seriously, premarital counseling.”

Dick agrees with Brenda that premarital counseling is important.

“Understand,” he said, “that there’s going to be ups and downs in any marriage and you don’t have to be right about everything. Brenda and I like spending time together and doing things together. We like each other. That’s very important in a marriage.”
© 2013