If there’s one lesson that almost everyone learns, it’s that the romances we have when we’re kids will almost invariably fall apart as we grow up. With 2 people going through so many changes in their lives, it’s no wonder that they tend to grow apart.
The irony is that for many of us, the romances of our youth are some that we remember the most fondly and with the most regret. We sometimes look back and think ‘that was the one that got away.’ Usually, it’s just because we’re seeing through the rose-colored glasses of memory but, as one couple would find out, there was something to that thought…
Back when they were in school in St. Paul, Minnesota, Kimberly and Ron caught each others’ attention in a special way. Though she was in 8th grade and he was a high school junior, they became very close friends “I would watch him come down the stairs when the high school kids were changing classes and we would wave at each other,” Kim said.
A Couple Of Goofballs
“We ended up taking a picture together and, by fall of the following school year, when I was a freshman and he was a senior, we were dating,” she said. The couple of self-described “goofballs” got along incredibly well but, like most high school romance, it wasn’t destined to last…
Once the school year ended, they came to a crossroads. Ron was graduating and didn’t want to be “that guy,” an older teenager still dating a kid in high school. “I wanted to go sow my oats, so to speak,” Ron said, “so we went our separate ways.” Unlike most break ups, they split on good turns and remained friends.
It’s not that Ron wasn’t happy with his relationship with Kim. He simply didn’t realize how special it was. “I thought women were all over the place and I couldn’t get along with any of them. I thought that was the norm.” But he would quickly come to understand the truth behind those famous lyrics “you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.”…
Never As Good
Over the next few years, as Kim finished up high school, Ron dated a few different women. Unfortunately, he never got along as well with any of those women as he had with his high school sweetheart. He had thoughts about getting back together with her but the timing was always wrong.
Every time one of them was single, the other was in a relationship. Then, a few years after she had graduated high school, one of Kim’s boyfriends proposed and she said yes. “When she got married, I thought, ‘Ah, she’s gone,’” Ron said…
Keeping In Touch
A couple of years after that, he got married as well. Sadly, his marriage wasn’t all that great and he and his wife divorced after 7 years together. At the same time, Kim had 2 children with her husband. Despite their lives seemingly traveling down 2 separate tracks, Ron Palmer and Kimberly Dean always stayed in touch with each other.
“I don’t think 6 months ever went by in all this time that we weren’t in contact,” Ron said. “I’d either get a letter or a phone call every once in awhile. When I was dating other girls and having issues, I would call her and she would help me through those times. It was a super good friendship, and it went back and forth like that for a time.”
After Kim went through a divorce of her own in 1998, Ron became her go-to person when she needed help as well, like the time she called him to “take a dead hamster out of my son’s cage because I didn’t want to touch it.”
One day, during one of their many phone calls, Ron, who hadn’t had any kids “was talking about all his benefits through work and not having anyone to give them to,” Kim said. She threw out a joke, saying by the time she turned 50, “If I’m not married and you’re not married, we’re just going to marry each other.”…
It’s A Deal
“Done!” was Ron’s reply, neither of them thinking anything would come of it. But as the years went by, their friendship only grew stronger. Ron even stepped in to be somewhat of a father figure to her kids, watching them when she needed a hand, sometimes even taking them camping.
Then in 2016, it was like something clicked in their friendship. After they went to Taste of Rosefest, a food and wine festival in Roseville, they started seeing each other more frequently. Then, during a trip together to Ron’s hunting cabin, “It was like a lightbulb went off,” Kim said. “And I told him, ‘Do you remember this stupid pact we made?’”…
At first, Ron was apprehensive about trying to rekindle their romance. “He told me later he worried that, if a relationship didn’t work, we would lose one of the very best friends we ever had,” Kim said. “That was a big risk,” Ron said.
“But I could see we still had feelings for each other,” Ron said. He agreed to give a romantic relationship with Kim one more try. “And it’s been fantastic ever since.” A little over a year after Kim had proposed they try dating again, Ron had a proposition of his own…
On New Year’s Eve of 2017, Ron took Kim to Gooseberry Falls state park to spend a day in beautifully frozen nature. Kim took a couple steps out into the below-zero temperatures then immediately turned to get back in the warmth of the car. When she did, she saw Ron down on one knee with a little ring box in hand. She said yes.
Six months later, they were having a June wedding that was 37 years in the making. With Kim being 51 and Ron being 54, they had only missed the deadline of their pact by a little bit. Kim was walked down the aisle by her son Konner, and her daughter Kayla was the maid of honor…
Their dance during the reception was to the song “Keep on Loving You,” by REO speedwagon. It was a truly fitting song, considering the lyrics “When I said that I loved you, I meant that I loved you forever.”
An Awesome Friend
“I think we both knew, even in high school, that we were supposed to be together,” Said Kim. Ron agreed, saying “I truly did love her back when we were kids. I’ve always loved her. She’s such an awesome friend.”…
No Better Match
Their ending up together didn’t come as a surprise to everyone. “It felt like it was supposed to happen like it was meant to be. I would say there’s no better match in the world for either of them,” said Kim’s daughter Kayla. “People who are meant to be together will always find each other. It may take 37 years but it can happen,” she added.
Later In Life
“The only thing that sucks is that we’re in our 50s. How much time do we have left?” Kim said. “We had to go through all those relationships — the good, the bad, the ugly, the complete heartbreak — to get where we are right now. We’ve even talked about, if we had gotten married all those years ago when we were younger, would we still be together?” They’ll have the rest of their lives together to think that over, if they like.