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A ‘romance forged from coals’
Couple reunite after 35 years of simmering love
Cindy Hval The Spokesman-Review
February 5, 2015

Terri Reavis and Mick Jackson grew up a block apart in Spokane Valley. They are engaged to be married.
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Love Stories celebrates relationships that are strong and enduring. Whether you’re dating, recently married or have passed the 50-year mark, let us tell your tale. Email your suggestions to correspondent Cindy Hval at dchval@juno.com

You can’t exactly call them high-school sweethearts, since they only had a handful of dates during their senior year at Central Valley High School – but those dates left an impression that lingered through the decades.

Terri Reavis has never forgotten the first time she saw Mick Jackson. It was 1974 and she walked past a trophy case protected by a steel rail. “The Rail” was where the “cool jocks” congregated and checked out the girls, Reavis said.

“Walking by The Rail was always an unnerving experience. I would walk by, wondering if my cheerleading skirt was hanging correctly, hoping not to trip,” she said. “That day Mick, the new kid who’d transferred from U-Hi, was standing there looking like a California surfer with blond hair and beautiful blue eyes. What was most striking was his mischievous smile and great dimple.”

Jackson noticed her as well. “I remember the first day I saw her,” he recalled. “She was wearing her little cheerleading uniform and carrying her books in front of her chest.”

Though Reavis – then Terri Schmidt – had a high school sweetheart, they were in the midst of a breakup. She’d been nominated senior homecoming princess and was without a date for the big night.

“Since Mick was so cute, I gathered all the courage I could, walked up to him at his locker and asked him if he would be my escort,” she said. He agreed. However, the evening didn’t go the way Reavis had envisioned. Jackson was supposed to meet his date and the rest of the royal court in the library, so they could ride out to the football field in a convertible for the coronation ceremony.

The appointed time arrived. Jackson did not. Luckily a friend knew where he was and fetched him. Jackson had been in the parking lot partaking of abundant “liquid courage.”

“She made me phenomenally nervous,” he said. “She’s the only girl in my life who’s made me nervous.”

Things went downhill from there. The couple had their royalty spotlight dance, but when the song ended, Jackson said, “See ya.”

“He left me on the dance floor!” Reavis said. “I went home, crying.”

In their Spokane Valley apartment, Jackson shook his head. “I didn’t know what I was doing!”

Still, Reavis gave him another chance. The following weekend Jackson drove her home from a football game in Sandpoint. “He didn’t say a word the entire drive home,” Reavis recalled.

“She made me nervous,” Jackson said.

Perhaps hoping the third time would be the charm, Reavis agreed to let Jackson take her to Expo ’74. This time the date went well with conversation and everything. But by then, Reavis was ready to return to her old boyfriend. Jackson’s bad boy reputation proved too daunting.

Both attended Eastern Washington University after graduation and Jackson said he was thrilled when he bumped into her. He may have been thrilled. She wasn’t. He sighed. “She wouldn’t even look at me.”

Life moved on and so did they. Both married in 1983. Reavis moved to Texas, Jackson to Montana.

At their 10-year reunion they saw each other, hugged and asked each other if they were married. Jackson asked if she was happy and she said yes she was. Reavis said, “I asked Mick the same question and he replied, ‘Yes, I’m always happy!’ ”

They didn’t see or speak again until their 20th reunion. Jackson invited Reavis to sit at his table. “He told me that he was a special education teacher and he loved this field,” she recalled. “He also spoke glowingly about his two daughters. I thought, ‘Wow! There must be something to this guy after all.’ ”

She was still living in Texas and had a son and a daughter. Once again the questions were asked: Are you still married and are you happy? Jackson replied, “Yes, I am always happy!” Reavis told him that she was still married and was also happy.

As the evening progressed, she began to see Jackson in a new light. The high school “bad boy” had matured into someone she could admire. She told him, “If one of our spouses dies or we happen to get divorced let’s look each other up and see if we can make it work.”

He just smiled in response.

Ten years passed. At the time of their 30th reunion, things had changed for Reavis. “My marriage was on rocky ground and I was extremely unhappy.”

When she saw Jackson he gave the same responses to the usual questions. Yes, he was still married and yes he was happy – he was always happy.

Reavis told him she was still married, her kids were great, but added, “my life sucks.”

They visited for awhile and went their separate ways.

In October 2010, an invitation went out for the class of ’75 to gather at the Central Valley homecoming game during halftime. Reavis was living in Montana, but her daughter was student teaching at CV, so she decided to attend.

At halftime she left the stands to get coffee. There was Jackson, walking toward her.

“We spent the entire second half of the game leaning on the fence, catching up on our lives and discussing what our futures might hold,” she recalled. “He asked many questions about what I liked and what I wanted for my life. Little did I know that he was going through a divorce, as was I.”

Jackson said, “My wife wasn’t happy with me. We’d talked about divorce a couple years before this, but decided to put in a conscious effort.”

After 27 years, those efforts failed. “We were wonderful friends but we just couldn’t be married anymore,” he said.

Divorce wasn’t what either Jackson or Reavis had envisioned for their lives. “For 27 years my focus had been raising a happy, healthy family,” he said. “Now, I needed to think about the rest of my life.”

Reavis had already been thinking about the rest of her life and it didn’t involve another relationship. “My plan was to be on my own, be my own boss, make my own decisions and be happy. I’d put in 27 years to make sure my kids were raised in the most stable environment possible, and it was time for me to relax and enjoy life,” she said.

But that chance meeting at the CV football game became a turning point for both of them. They realized if they were both starting over, they wanted to start over together.

That choice came with painful ramifications.

“Our families and friends had a difficult time with our decision,” Reavis said.

Jackson nodded. “The fallout from the families was the hardest thing – we jumped in so quickly. But we were 54 and life is so short … ”

They often wonder what might have happened had they gotten together in high school. “If I could go back I would have never let her go,” Jackson said.

But they both admit their youthful relationship probably wouldn’t have lasted.

The couple, now engaged, are relishing each day. “It took 35 years to come together. Family and friends have come to see this isn’t a wild rebound, but a deeply committed romance forged from coals that unknowingly simmered for 35 years,” Reavis said.

Jackson said, “It’s OK to start over after 50. I’ve loved her since she was 17. My only goal is to make the rest of her life as happy as possible. We have, God-willing, 30 years to spend together.”

Those years may prove adventurous. The couple plans to spend two years on a sailboat, sailing around Central and South America.

For now they’re basking in the joy of being together. “Mick is positive and happy every day. He knows me. It’s like we’ve been together for a thousand years,” Reavis said. “He’s my everything, I can’t imagine life without him.”