By David Aspinall
This is the tear-jerking moment a romantic boyfriend proposes to his girlfriend at the same school bus stop they first met at 35 years previous.
Love-struck Eric Cardwell knew there was only one way to propose to the girl who had stolen his heart on a school bus all those years ago in Trussville, Alabama, USA.
With Traci Self’s family and friends all aboard the yellow vehicle, Eric pulls up at Sage Circle and invites the love-of-his-life onboard who instantly starts welling up.
After explaining how even 35 years ago how Eric saw her and knew he ‘was done’, the old romantic pulls an engagement ring from the seat behind Traci and gets down on one knee.
Eric said: “Traci was pretty emotional about the proposal, particularly since I had our kids and her parents all on the bus to be a part of it.
“After running over about a hundred different ways to ask her to marry me, nothing felt right, so I decided to bring it all back around full circle to where it all began.
“Traci calls our time on that school bus ‘the beginning that I didn’t’ even know was our beginning’.”
Having decided where he wanted to propose, Eric was determined to locate the very same bus they had first laid eyes on each other.
More than three decades on, this task proved much harder than anticipated leading this besotted boyfriend on a wild goose chase.
Eric said: “Our high school had broken away from the county system so I had to ring a different transport department.
“After a few phone calls, they advised me our bus had been sold to Mexico, which led to a dead end.
“Following extensive Google searches, I asked local drivers, but despite wanting to help, they couldn’t because of insurance liability.
“A very helpful vehicle hire company put us in touch with a woman who asked her drivers if they had the correct insurance and would be willing.
“Fortunately, one lady driver squealed with excitement and agreed.”
Because the bus was brand new, Eric managed to persuade one of Traci’s co-workers to cut vinyl numbers from their original bus to cover the rental number.
The happy couple have been together for 17 months and share four children – Jacob Self, 19, Abbie Self, 10, Laura Cardwell, 16, and Chelsea Cardwell, 10 – from previous marriages.
Eric said: “Traci and I had both moved on from school and married other people, had children, gotten divorced and resigned ourselves to focusing on raising our children.
“Then, I had an epiphany to go after what I really wanted and had always wanted.
“I sent her a private message on Facebook on New Year’s Eve and she replied.
“That led to, save for a few hours of sleep, about a full day and a half of near constant messaging back and forth.
“Facebook messages led to texts and a phone call which led to a wonderful first date and we haven’t looked back since.”
The couple have already set their date for June 9 2018 at the historic Alabama Theater, Birmingham.
Eric said: “We have based and built our relationship on a commitment that our children will always come first.
“There was no way that this could ever happen unless everyone was on board.
“I’m pretty old fashioned about things like this, so I had asked for and received the blessing of her parents as well as her son and daughter.
“My daughters had already told me in no uncertain terms that they were definitely on board and Jacob is going to be my best man.”