“If at first you don’t succeed … try, try, try again.”
While Glendon Seal didn’t coin the phrase, the story of his relationship with Jenna Sage certainly proves his belief in the adage. And is evidence that persistence pays off.
Though Jenna wasn’t always as quick to move their relationship forward as Glendon would have liked, she couldn’t help but fall for a guy who made her laugh as hard ― and as frequently as Glendon.
The two, both who graduated from Bloomington Jefferson High School, met in the spring of 2010 while working for the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.
But it wasn’t until a June training session for the summer program that Glendon made his move.
Yes, there was flirting ― and Glendon showing his trademark sense of humor, cracking jokes about how boring the sessions were.
Finally, Jenna agreed to meet him for a drink. Each, they agreed, would bring some of their colleagues and head for the Eden Prairie TGI Friday’s.
Jenna showed up with two other guys. Glendon came alone. Yes, on purpose.
“We pretty much ignored the guys,” said Jenna, laughing at how the evening played out.
Their interest in each other was apparent, they now recall, remembering how their friends left the restaurant fairly early while Jenna and Glendon closed the place down.
Their first real date was the Saturday after their TGI Friday’s meeting. And while Glendon tried to impress Jenna, he now admits he didn’t have a plan other than taking her to see comedian Aziz Ansari at the State Theater.
He was going to take her to dinner, but Jenna insisted she wasn’t hungry so they opted for drinks and a walk around downtown Minneapolis.
Afterward, the city boy decided to show Jenna the Mill City’s sights ― the historic Kenwood neighborhood and its jewels: The lakes.
“I wanted to show her what she was missing living out in the suburbs,” he said.
They laugh about it now, but even as their friendship grew, Jenna continued to keep Glendon at bay.
“She kept saying ‘no’ any time I’d ask her out,” he said.
“We always hung out, always had fun, but I wasn’t sure I wanted a relationship,” she said, adding that she had just finished her master’s degree and didn’t feel ready for couple-hood. “When I met Glendon it was very sudden.”
Jenna’s family had other ideas.
Derek and Jani Sage liked Glendon enough to invite him to the family’s cabin one weekend in late July.
“I was probably one of the funnest weekends I’ve ever had,” said Jenna.
The weather was beautiful, and the company was great. They spent the weekend playing cards and sitting by the water, and no matter what Jenna’s family threw at him, Glendon took it with good humor.
“They were very upfront and honest, but very welcoming,” he said.
It was then Jenna began to see her now fiancé in a new light.
As had become a pattern, Jenna had told Glendon she wasn’t ready to see him exclusively. But after the weekend at the cabin, things began to change.
“It was seeing him with my family,” she said of her new perspective.
Finding time to be together wasn’t always easy. Between their jobs, Glendon’s classes, studying and hockey refereeing, the two didn’t often see each other until 9 or 10 at night.
But by then, Jenna knew how well matched they were.
“After I finally decided this is what I wanted, everything just came naturally,” she said.
“From the first day at (TGI) Friday’s we saw each other’s passion for our field,” said Glendon.
He acknowledges Jenna’s initial reticence, despite their obvious connection.
“We were able to talk so freely and openly. We connected, and from then on we challenged each other, but we have the same goals and ambitions.
“It just made sense.”
"Glendon and I never talked about when we would get engaged, I thought to myself if he would do later, like Summer 2013, but when he hinted at the beginning of 2012 that he was thinking, I thought maybe sooner," she said.
"Glendon would, at times, go back and forth if he was going to do it or not. Sometimes really talking about it, other times stating he wanted to, but being in school made it hard. "Throughout the summer he would talk about it, so when it got to the end of summer, I figured he probably wasn't going to do it.
“When he wanted to go to his grandmother’s I thought maybe he would do it, but then he came down with all his estate paperwork,” she said.
As they drove north, Jenna kept thinking how they’d only been to the cabin once all year and asked Glendon to stop by before going on to Alexandria.
"I didn't think he would propose when we walked down the lake. Once we got to the lake and were just looking out at it, Glendon was acting a bit nervous," she said.
"It wasn't until he put his arms around me from behind and said he had a question for me, that I started getting nervous and then it happened!
“It was just one of those surreal moment you’ve been thinking about all your life, but I was just stunned.”
Glendon’s turn: “I was going to be done with school shortly and I knew I was ready (to pop the question),” he said, recalling how he bought the ring in the spring but a series of roadblocks kept postponing his query.
“I was going to ask her at the cabin, but I worked so much we only got there once that summer. I set everything up, but that week my sister got engaged,” he said.
Not wanting to steal her moment, he waited, only to have his brother get engaged a few weeks after. So Glendon waited a bit longer.
Even then, things didn’t go according to plan. Glendon picked a day to ask Jenna for her hand in marriage, deciding he’d fake her out by asking her to go to his grandmother’s house but instead stop by at Jenna’s favorite place ― her family’s cabin.
But just before the chosen day, Glendon’s grandmother passed away.
“In the past I probably would have thought that it was a sign not to go through with it,” he said. “But every single person who mattered to me kept pushing me, saying ‘When are you going to do it?’’
It was then Glendon revised his plan, telling Jenna he needed to sign some legal papers dealing with his grandmother’s estate. It was the perfect ruse to get her to the cabin.
As they neared the cabin, Jenna played right into his hands, asking to stop at the lake house.
After their arrival, Glendon felt his “heart started beating faster and faster. I checked to see if the ring was still there and we walked down to the water. It was then a large fish jumped out of the lake, breaking the tension.
“She didn’t say yes for what seemed like 10 minutes,” he said, “but it was probably 30 seconds.”
“I couldn’t have asked for a better way to do it.
The cabin means a lot to her mom and grandma and I wanted them to be a part of it. I think that was the way to do it.”