BY JE’DON HOLLOWAY-TALLEY
Special for the Birmingham Times
“You Had Me at Hello” highlights married couples and the love that unites them. If you would like to be considered for a future “Hello” column, or know someone, please send applications to Barnett Wright [email protected] Include the couple’s name, contact number(s) and what makes their romance unique.
JEFFERY AND AMANDA CROOM
To live: McCalla
Married: June 2, 2018
Meet: At Cash Advance in Birmingham, in May 2010.
“I was the store manager and Jeffery’s mother, Mary Blakney, was one of my good customers and he used to bring her in to pay his monthly bill…Jeffery always sat in the car, but one day [his mother] came in and said, “Can I ask you a question? “[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 mom told me to come here and talk to you.’ I thought it was a little cute but a little weird…”
“My mom just hooked me up and gave me the way,” Jeffery said. “I was already interested looking at her through the window, that’s why I went back up there and asked her out.”
At first Amanda refused, but a month later “I told her 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 there and he said it didn’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 neighborhood of downtown. Amanda and her four children all met Jeffery for dinner.
“It was interesting, the kids were looking at me, there were a lot of questions swirling around, asking me what your intentions were with my mother, they were asking the average questions kids and teenagers would ask…” , Jeffery said.
Amanda remembers there was a lot of laughter. “After [my kids] broke the ice that was awesome…i couldn’t [get a word in], my kids took over… The older ones were questioning Mr. Jeffery and told him a bit about my background and told him I deserved to be treated well,” Amanda said. “At the end of the evening, we had had a great time. Mr. Jeffery made them laugh, it was a good date.
Round: In 2012 Jeffery went overseas as a government contractor for two years and in 2014 I knew Amanda was the only one because I missed her and thought of her 24/7 , 7 days a week,” Jeffery said.
“We were always together and when he was gone those two years were the worst years,” Amanda said. “It just seemed like everything bad happened while he was gone. His nights were my days, and my days were his nights, so I missed his calls and just felt lost. And when we spoke, I didn’t want to hang up. So now we’ve sworn never to do anything apart unless we have to.
Proposal: Mother’s Day 2016, at Jeffery’s mother’s house in Fairfield.
“I went down to my mom’s den where everyone was watching TV, and I proposed to her and everyone’s eyes widened, including Amanda’s,” Jeffery recalled. “I didn’t tell anyone, I just went over there and did it. I opened the ring box and gave it to Amanda and said ‘so, hey, are you going to marry me?’ and she said “yes”, and I put the ring on her finger.
“That was really weird,” laughed Amanda. “We hugged and kissed, and everyone started screaming and taking pictures… But I was upset because my kids weren’t there, so we did it again for them. “
“I made it up, got another ring, and 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 was like, ‘Jeffery, really?'” Amanda laughed. “And he said [to her children] “I ruined you all, but I want you all to share in your mum’s joy. She already said ‘yes,’ but here’s another ring’, and their eyes widened. I was overjoyed, I I was satisfied because Jeffery is extraordinary…”
The wedding: At Bryant Chapel AME Church in Grasselli Heights, presided over by their two 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 fiancé’s last-minute wardrobe decision. “When I walked in and saw the whole wedding party out front, I looked for Jeffrey and [saw that] he was in full military dress. We had bought a tuxedo, but he was wearing his “dress blues” and he looked like a real Marine. Loved seeing him in his uniform, couldn’t help but smile as I walked 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 in from Kuwait for the wedding, and he gave me… We had over 350 guests, but I had only sent 150 invitations.
Memorable because the groom laid 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 on the gun and tried to kiss her when she came at me because she looked so beautiful in that white dress, and Reverend Littlejohn had to stop me. He put the Bible between us and he said, “Wait a minute, we’re not there yet and everyone started laughing.”
The couple spent their honeymoon in the Bahamas. “It was so peaceful and quiet overlooking the ocean. The water was clear and it was absolutely beautiful…I love the water,” Amanda said.
words of wisdom“Know your partner before you [plan on] spend a lifetime with them, getting to know that person, embracing each other and knocking out the obstacles in your path,” Amanda said. “Whatever you do, you do it together, there is no ‘I’ in the team. We lead together [because] we decided that was what worked for us because it’s a union. Always make time for each other, I know the days get long and the nights get longer, but spend time even if it’s just sitting at a table eating or talking on the phone.
“Communicate with each other, make sure you know what your partner is thinking, make sure you cover each other’s needs…Communication builds trust, find out what they want from you instead of guessing, that would be a lot easier. Communication in a marriage is the most important tool,” Jeffery said.
Happy forever: 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 from Wenonah and graduated from Wenonah High School. She attended Lawson State Community College, where she earned an associate’s degree in business administration and works as a full-time substitute art teacher in 6th grade at McAdory Middle School.
Jeffery, 56, graduated from Fairfield High School and attended American University [online], where he earned a bachelor’s degree in security management and an associate’s degree in counterterrorism. Jeffery served 20 years and 6 months in the US Marine Corps, where he retired as a gunnery sergeant.